Why Falklands oil makes this an election worth losing (probably)

And why Sunny Jim's 1979 defeat was doubly painful.

Perhaps everything will be paid for from Falklands oil, which, it is reported, could be worth £100bn in corporation taxes and royalties, with half going to Britain, half to the islanders.

In the late 1970s, Jim Callaghan's Labour government lived in terror of losing the next election because, ministers thought, the Tories would get all the benefits from the newly discovered North Sea oil and stay in power for years. So it came to pass.

One hopes Falklands oil doesn't work out the same way. It will take at least five years to come onstream, and so Labour's best plan is probably to lose this year's election, but to make bloody sure it wins the one after that.

This item appears in this week's issue of the New Statesman.

Peter Wilby was editor of the Independent on Sunday from 1995 to 1996 and of the New Statesman from 1998 to 2005. He writes the weekly First Thoughts column for the NS.

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