Sunday, 14 November 2010

Fancy a Game of Texas "Oldham" ?

Politics is sometimes like poker -it's possible to win a hand with nothing if you can bluff with conviction. The forthcoming by-election in Oldham East & Saddleworth, caused by the disqualification of Phil Woolas, has become a game of managing expectations and an excuse for the pointless partisans to strut around on political blogs and forums asserting that only they know what will happen.

Of course, a by-election in a three-way marginal like Oldham East & Saddleworth carries huge risks for all three main parties and it's the first real political test for the Coalition.

If Labour wins and wins well, no one will be surprised - the polls suggest that would be the likely outcome.

If the Liberal Democrats win it will be a huge fillip for Nick Clegg at a time when his leadership is under pressure.

If the Conservatives win it would be a big boost for David Cameron and would encourage those in his party who think they can win an outright majority in 2015.

If Labour loses it will be a huge blow for Ed Milliband in his first by-election as leader.

If the Liberal Democrats finish a bad second or third, it will encourage those in the party who see no future in the Coalition and will intensify the fears of many MPs that they will lose their seats in an anti-Coalition backlash.

If the Conservatives finish second to Labour, they will be fairly happy and secretly delighted to have pushed the Liberal Democrats into third. If the Conservatives finish second to the Liberal Democrats, they will be pleased. If they finish third to the Liberal Democrats, there will be some disappointment but nothing more.

It's clear that ALL three main parties have a lot to gain but also plenty to lose in the forthcoming contest.

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