British politics back to normal

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I have been observing British politics since the early 1960s, and I have noticed a common pattern: Until the 1990s, the party in power has most of the time been behind in the polls.

It struck me that Brits had some visceral sense that expressing disapproval in polls placed some limits on the prime minister's theoretically dictatorial powers—he (or she) can get practically any legislation he (or she) wants through the House of Commons but is likely to be restrained from going too far by public opinion. Tony Blair and his New Labor Party changed that pattern: From 1997 up through the 2005 election, Blair has generally enjoyed positive job ratings and has been favored over the leader of the Conservative Party.

Now that has changed. The Conservatives' new leader David Cameron is now preferred to Blair. In the same poll, Conservatives lead Labor and the Liberal Democrats 39 to 33 to 18 percent–almost enough to win them a majority of seats. (New Labor manipulated the redistricting process much more skillfully than Conservatives, and so the latter have to win a superplurality over Labor to get an absolute majority in the House of Commons. Those percentages, according to this Web site, would produce a House of Commons with 306 Conservatives, 287 Laborites, and 22 Liberal Democrats. If that were the result, presumably the Labor prime minister would advise the queen to call on the Conservative leader to form a government. That government's fate would depend on some combination of the Lib Dems, Scots Nationalists, Plaid Cymru, and Northern Irish parties (the British parties don't run candidates in Northern Ireland.)