Written on polling day, May 6 2010.
I’m struggling to find another journalist who thinks it. In truth, I can’t find many politicians — not even in Labour or the Liberal Democrats — who believe it in their hearts and heads. But given that I have said it throughout the long period when so many thought the Conservatives would win by a landslide, it would be eccentric to shy away from sticking my neck out and saying it now.
I predict that David Cameron, having failed to convince an intelligent electorate that he has fundamentally changed his party, will fail to form a government this week and will never become prime minister.
Instead, I believe that Labour will retain office, almost certainly in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, after the two naturally allied parties gain more seats and more votes than the Conservatives.
Nick Clegg is an extremely impressive politician. He has fought a superb campaign. But his one small error — easily remedied — may have been to imply that he can get into bed with a Tory party diametrically opposed to his values and even give up the glittering prize of electoral reform in the process.
Instead, in a hung parliament, Clegg will face demands from his party to seek what would in effect be a blank cheque from Labour. Gordon Brown would be wise to offer it. It may be his only hope.
Saying this is a little gamble. I may well be proved wrong within 24 hours. The polls point to Cameron eyeing the prize, as the Guardian slightly overenthusiastically puts it this morning. But if, by any chance, I’m right, remember that you read it here first.