Friday, May 20, 2005

The Arithmetic of Age

Michael (age 63) thinks he's too old, whereas Ken (age 64) thinks you're only as old as you feel. Tony (age 52) is five times a...oh no, I'm feeling bilious again.

DD is 56, nine years off the current pension age.

Hmm...now, let's see...

DD becomes leader, and wins the 2009 election. Actually, make that the 2010 election, because the New Labour fantasy world will have unravelled long before then, and massive unpopularity will force them to cling on til the very last moment, just like Callaghan.

So he becomes PM at 61 (Ken of course would be 69). For comparison, Maggie was 54.

How long does he stay?

Assuming things go well, it's got to be one whole term, for sure. So he'll run again at 65.

OK, that's cool. Winnie became PM at 65.

Assume he wins again. Then what?

Well, it's 2014. David Cameron, the Chancellor, is 48, and George Osborne, Home Secretary, is 43. They've both had good wars, as have Ed Vaizy and a number of other senior Cabinet members.

The script says DD stands aside, proudly taking his place alongside Winnie and Maggie on the pantheon of All-time Party Greats. The man who restored the Tories to being the Natural Party of Government arranges an orderly transition to his chosen successor, selected from the immensely strong team he has nurtured around him.

But...well, successful PMs, you know what they're like...Winnie, Maggie...they all end up thinking they're indispensible.

So maybe he stays, even though it means deferring his pension. But that can't be right can it? He'd be 69 at the 2018 election. Up against a new bushy tailed Labour leader who's still got all his own teeth.

The rumblings begin. David, George and Ed find themselves sucked into a quagmire of speculation and suspected plots. If DD stays too long they might themselves get generation skipped. Those slithery things under the rock wake from their long hibernation. The show-trials and executions follow...

What do you reckon? Sounds horribly plausible doesn't it.

So if you were sitting in Notting Hill today, seriously contemplating the Davis dash, one of the things you'd be asking is whether superfit SAS DD looks the retiring type.

Hmmm.

Maybe Ken would be a better bet after all. I mean nobody wants to be unkind...but, well...in 2014 Ken would be 73...well, that is, if he...well, you know what I'm getting at.

All of which might be true. Except that to be facing such a problem ten years from now, sitting in the back of your ministerial limo, after five glorious years at the controls....that's what's known as a quality problem.
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