UK Election Special: Gambling On One Last Roll Of The Tumbling Political Dice

As England football fans have just recently been reminded to their delight and astonishment, it ain’t over until the Bellingham rings.

Or until one has hit a belter through the covers to beat the Australians and win The Ashes on the last ball of a deciding test, as our incumbent–and, it should be noted, unelected–British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fantasised in an interview yesterday.

Such wins and losses, snatched from the jaws of defeat or victory, while rare, are not beyond belief.

Witness Jude Bellingham’s spectacular last gasp overhead scissors kick that re-animated the corpse of English football, dead before our very eyes in Sunday’s Euro ‘24 last 16 match against minnows Slovakia.

And, for good measure, we could mention Manchester United’s famous–or infamous–injury-time victory over Bayern Munchen in the 1999 final of the Champions’ League.

In the political arena perhaps the biggest and surest ‘win’ that went awry was arguably the 1948 U.S. Presidential Election when challenger Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, a Republican, was erroneously hailed as victor over incumbent president Harry S. Truman the morning after polling.


Truman was on a hiding-to-nothing, concurred all the polls and pundits; and Dewey was set to win by a landslide — much as Keir Starmer’s Labour Party here in the UK is being touted to win this Thursday’s election by odds of 1/100 or 99.1 percent.

“Dewey Defeats Truman”, screamed the now-storied morning headline of the Chicago Daily Tribune, a so-called ‘Newspaper of Record’.

Just like Sunak today, Truman was deeply unpopular and nominally managing a savagely-divided party, the Democrats.

And again, just like Sunak, he was an unelected leader lacking the charisma of his predecessor; having inherited the top job through political circumstance: the death-in-office of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for Truman, and the defenestration of Boris Johnson in the case of Sunak — if we ignore the disastrous interregnum of Liz Truss, the Tory leader-but-one, who had the political lifespan of a lettuce.

Given the fatigue of 14-years of continuous Conservative rule, the deracination of Brexit, the terrors of Covid, ‘Partygate’, the infantile political game of leadership musical chairs, the D-Day bomb and ‘Gamblegate’, it seems inconceivable that Sunak will win Thursday’s election.

Surely Friday’s headlines will scream: “Starmer Smashes Sunak.”?

But imagine, if you can, the splash “Sunak Beats Starmer.”

As we’ve just witnessed in Germany, stranger things have happened.

Metaphorically, there’s always a ‘dodgy’ foreign ref to blame or “the pitch may cut-up”.

And our Democracy, they say, gives everyone–even billionaires on their way out of the door–one last roll of the dice.

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