Casually chatting to a friend this week, unsurprisingly the subject of politics cropped up into our conversation, "So, do you reckon Ed will get to Downing Street?"
Hardly the expert, I immediately said it was possible but perhaps more likely in a coalition with the Lib Dems. Following the revelation of Vince Cable's interactions with the Labour leader last month this seems quite plausible, I suggested. But then it hit me. How can anyone know if Ed Miliband will get to Downing Street in 2015 when we are only in 2012? Who knew that Mr Miliband would have become a serious candidate for prime minister following his 'One Nation' speech when only the week before many assumed that he had no hope? Aside from Ed Miliband's new allure, there are numerous questions which will be raised before 2015 that will go some way in deciding which party will next hold power.
Has our economy recovered slightly, or are we still deep in recession? Much will depend on Chancellor George Osborne's address later this year, and that in turn will be a factor in deciding whether the Tories stand a chance in 2015. Let alone that, it is quite possible that David Cameron and Nick Clegg may not even be leading their respective parties into the next general election. If Boris Johnson becomes an MP, or Vince Cable battles for power, the tables will turn.
Ed Miliband now has a great chance since stealing the show at Labour's party conference earlier this week, and Nick Clegg is still standing since his charity single stormed up the charts on iTunes. The forthcoming months, therefore, are crucial for each party to devise a clear strategy of what they propose to do if their party is to take power in 2015. Impressive as Miliband's speech was, we now need to hear what Labour would actually do in government. However, planning such a strategy can take years. Indeed, Tony Blair's rise to power in 1997 had been initiated by his renowned spin-doctor Alastair Campbell since 1994. It's great to hear that he too thinks rail prices are rocketing, but what does Mr Miliband propose to do about that if Labour were to be governing? Now is the time to get thinking.
David Cameron, on the other hand, has his own problems. Despite the pressure of living up to Miliband's speech, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today decided that the eve of the Tory party conference was perfect timing to reveal his controversial plans for child abortion - hardly a promising start to an already difficult week ahead. All eyes will be on David Cameron over the next four days, although they may well drift over to Boris Johnson on Tuesday when the Mayor of London graces the stage with his presence. The important thing for the Conservatives to remember is that if the Lib Dems survived it and Labour miraculously triumphed at it, how hard can a party conference really be when you're running on quicksand? They're about to find out.
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