Alex Massie

Three Terms are Enough

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Brother Bright gives some of his reasons for hoping that Labour will prevail at the next election here. As a good man of the left, one would expect no less from him. And he's right, I think, to suppose that we'd be facing many of the same problems had David Cameron and Georgie Osbourne been running the country these past five years. In that sense, you can undertsand the frustration some of the Prime Minister's supporters must feel. Not all of this is the PM's fault, but he's the only fellow the public can kick.

But for those of us who aren't automatically attached to any party the calculation is pretty simple: no-one, except in th direst circumstances, shoul ever be entrusted with four consecutive terms. Thirteen years is enough. If you can't achieve your goals inside a decade then it's time to give the other mob a chance. The Tories deserved to lose in 1997 just as Labour deserves to lose in 2010.

(The Tory victory in 1992 is slightly different: for one, voters weren't convinced by Kinnock; secondly Major was so new to the national scene when he succeeded Mrs T that it seemed as though the country was able to get fresh leadership without having to endure the inconvenience of an actual general election. Gordon's not in that position: his term is a continuation of the Blair Years, not a fresh start in its own right. Then again: you can make a case for arguing that it might have been better for the Conservative party to have lost in 1992 anyway. This though is dangerous territory best left to another day...)

The basic point is this, however: Labour have had their go, now it's the Tories turn. These things need to be approached as if there were some kind of unofficial term limit applying to governing parties. I can see why activists attached to any political party might view this differently, but the independent citizenry ought to be terrified of giving any party the best part of twenty years uninterrupted rule...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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