The Observer's IPSOS poll today shows a narrowing lead for the Tories over Labour, giving rise to much speculation in that paper about a hung parliament after the next election. Two articles worth reading on this scenario are Andrew Rawnsley's commentary, which deserves a separate entry really, and a piece by Roy Hattersely, in which the former Labour deputy leader recalls the time that he was a minister in a minority government (James Callaghan's). He doesn't think much of the experience, and ends his article with a clarion call for conviction politics - "What our democracy needs, above all else, is the politics of conviction".
Hmmmm, really? I mean, Nick Griffin certainly doesn't lack conviction. Margaret Thatcher's conviction was one of the most wildly divisive elements of politics in the 1980s. Tony Blair certainly had plenty of conviction about the need to fight a war in Iraq. Adolf Hitler was, in many ways, the ultimate conviction politician, squeezing out all those woolly minded consensualists. Roy's own conviction is the need for ex-Labour ministers to have good square meals and fine wines, and who could argue with that, but I think he looks at conviction politics through rose-tinted spectacles. Most of us just want effective and honest government, rather than the dangerous, arrogant assertions of the eternally convicted.