27 January 2014

What Would Britain be Like Today if...?

... Neil Kinnock had won the 1992 General Election?

This is what I'd see happening:

Kinnock wins the 1992 election (somehow) and does what he said he was going to do: more taxes, more borrowing, more deficit, more debt... (same old Labour, eh?), and Britain is in ruins.

So, by 1997, Kinnock would obviously attempt to seek re-election. It's arguable as to whether John Smith's tragic heart attack in 1994 would have been prevented had he not been leader, but I still think it, sadly, would have happened. So who would Kinnock's Chancellor have been? Gordon Brown? Roy Hattersley? I just don't know. But I think it would have been Roy Hattersley, with Gordon Brown as Foreign Secretary and Tony Blair as Home Secretary.

The Conservatives, who would have been depressed from the 1992 defeat, would probably not have put up John Major as their leader. But during the mid 90s there was no real contender. Yes, John Redwood did challenge Major in 1995 in real life but that was a walkover. I personally think that it may have been Kenneth Clarke or Michael Portillo. The EU would still have been a divisive point in the Conservatives - and with Labour unashamedly pro-EU, the same way as general public opinion - I'd imagine the Conservatives would go for a Europhile - Kenneth Clarke - rather than a soft Eurosceptic - Michael Portillo or William Hague. I don't know whether John Major would have stayed as Shadow Chancellor, or perhaps given to somebody like Portillo or Hague. The more I type, the more I think it would have been Portillo.

1997: NEIL KINNOCK v KENNETH CLARKE

So, no doubt this would have been an interesting election. Kinnock v Clarke. I can't see which way that one would have gone. I think it may have been a Hung Parliament and another election in late 1997 required, and I think Clarke may just edge it by a nose.

Kenneth Clarke was a man who supported the single currency, and this is where he would fall down in 1997 - 2002. Would he have been ousted by William Hague or Michael Portillo (who obviously wouldn't have had the Portillo moment) before 2002? I don't know. I would presume not and that Clarke would have been Prime Minister until 2002.

Over in the Labour camp, the only reason that Gordon Brown, the frontrunner in the Blair/Brown relationship, did not stand in real life in 1994 for the leader is because the timing wasn't right for him, and it did ruin his career. But with such tight elections in 1997 in this fictitious world, would Kinnock have left? I think it would have depended on opinion polling before the election. If the papers said Kinnock would win, then yes, he would have gone. If the papers said Clarke, I don't think he would have gone. Considering Kinnock's policies and their effect on Britain, I think the papers would have backed Clarke, and Kinnock would have stayed. In 2000 or so I think there would have been a challenge to his leadership - but I don't think Blair and Brown would have stood: in real life after the 1992 failure they supported Kinnock remaining on.

2002: NEIL KINNOCK v KENNETH CLARKE

So 2002 would have been a Kinnock/Clarke rematch, and this time I think Kinnock would have won it quite comfortably.

What Kinnock's policies would have been nobody knows, but I doubt he would have stayed on until 2007. I think, possibly, Kinnock may have done a Blair and given up the leadership (and Prime Ministerial duties) in 2004 or 2005, passing it on to Gordon Brown. I don't think Blair would have had a look in.

Over in the Conservative camp, the rise of the Liberal Conservatives (David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson et al) would have been difficult to predict. Clarke would have gone immediately after 2002, for sure. But who would come in? Would Portillo have still been around and not gone off to do train programmes on BBC Two? What about Cameron and Johnson? What about Hague? If I were voting in the 2002 Conservative Party leadership election, I would have voted for Michael Portillo. Why? Well, I think Hague, Cameron, and co. would not have been 'ready' to be leader yet. In 2005, I still think Cameron was a little unready. But he's perfectly fine now. I don't think David Davis would have a look-in, nor would Iain Duncan-Smith (although they would have stood).

I think Brown would have delayed the election until 2007, rather than go for an early one.

2007: GORDON BROWN v MICHAEL PORTILLO

I personally think this would have been a Portillo landslide. We don't know what his policies would have been, for sure.

Undoubtedly, I think Portillo would have stayed on to try to get a second term in office.

As for Labour, I think Brown would have gone in 2007 and in comes Tony Blair. Well, who else? David Miliband?

Portillo surely would have called an early election here, had the 2011 Fixed Parliaments Act never been put into place.

2011: TONY BLAIR v MICHAEL PORTILLO

As much as Labour supporters will clamour me saying Blair would have smashed Portillo, I doubt he could recover from a landslide that quickly. Surely Portillo would achieve a second term with a sizeable, if not huge, majority - probably around Blair 2005 levels, about 66 or so.

Looking into the future now, would Portillo have stayed on for a third term? I don't think so. But in 2013 or 2014, who would he have handed power to? I think he would have stepped down and the Conservative Leadership Election would have been very interesting. I could see David Davis, Iain Duncan-Smith, David Cameron, Boris Johnson (I don't think he would have gone for Mayor of London), and William Hague standing. This would have been difficult to vote in, so much so I actually didn't do guesstimation here and actually ran the voting procedure through my head! I think Boris Johnson would have nabbed it, with William Hague in second, and William Hague in third. This does not necessarily mean I support Boris Johnson over David Cameron. I just couldn't see Cameron following immediately after Portillo. Hague would have been a serious contender, but I think the Boris bounce may have nabbed it for him.

I don't think Tony Blair would have been replaced.

Boris Johnson would probably have called an early election in 2015 rather than 2016.

2015: TONY BLAIR v BORIS JOHNSON

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