So the eve-of-election polls are in, and bar a few out-liers they all tell a similar story: Tories in the mid-thirties, Labour high twenties, Lib Dems just behind. This is firmly in balanced parliament territory, of course, but in the Tories’ favour – Lewis Baston’s piece in today’s Guardian is very much worth reading, since it adds much needed nuance to the of-quoted 326-to-win figure. Not only that, but slightly better performance in the marginal seats – which one would expect – would tip Cameron’s party just over the top into proper overall majority. A slim Tory majority is in many ways the worst of all worlds, binding Cameron as it would to his party’s malcontents and mavericks. Either way, election night will be nail-biting for all involved.
So what might we expect of a Cameron government? Certainly, its central figures plan a bullish character: “David and his team are obsessed with avoiding the vacuum into which Tony Blair was sucked after winning in 1997,” says a senior Tory. “They know that, if we win, this is going to be a deeply unpopular government. They have six months at maximum to create the parameters for how they will implement the tough decisions.” Johann Hari’s dispatch from Cameronland today is required reading, too: “The cost of almost all council services has sky-rocketed, to fund tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy.” Jonathan Freedland, meanwhile, channels Kinnock.
Peter Kellner predicts tonight a Cameron minority government, but our constitution holds out another possibility, however improbably. Mary Riddell: “One certainty in this odd election is that a Lib-Lab pact would better reflect the democratic will than a minority Tory government.” Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Was Gordon Brown’s recital of 55 Labour achievements part of a core vote strategy? Perhaps. But that makes them no less real – and no less of a contrast to the alternative.