Elections are often decided by the most unforeseeable consequences and this could be the case with the current British National Election.
The classic case of an intervening circumstance propelling a "rally round the flag" factor and assisting an incumbent mightily occurred in the 1956 U.S. presidential election. Underdog Democratic Party nominee Adlai Stevenson had cut to within 10 points against incumbent Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
Just as Stevenson's momentum was at its most impressive peak as his party mounted a shrewd "bread and butter" issues campaign against an Eisenhower Administration it argued was too close to big business and not close enough to the American midstream, an event totally unsanctioned by Eisenhower occurred abroad that provided him with sufficient momentum to secure a landslide re-election in both the popular and Electoral College voting categories.
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion allied himself with British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and French Premier Guy Mollet to launch the Suez War against President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. Eisenhower became infuriated and used U.S. power and influence to terminate the joint enterprise.
The Suez War includes an important historical footnote in that Harold MacMillan, who replaced Eden following his resignation, delivered a short cable to Eisenhower with the key words "over to you" which historians mark as the end of the British Empire and a recognition that the power pendulum had swung across the Atlantic.
During a time of potential domestic crisis based on international events numerous Americans who might have been inclined to vote for Stevenson opted to support the leader and party in power.
Currently an unanticipated international situation carries the potential of influencing what forecasters have predicted to be a very close British National Election. Recent polling data revealed that the incumbent Labour Party headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared to have lost enough strength to be able to win outright victory.
The Conservative Party led by David Cameron, while having made inroads, appeared unable to gain a parliamentary majority. The poll result showed a hung Parliament with Nick Clegg and his Liberal Party holding a key to resolving the impasse amid overtures from the Labourites and Tories.
Then along came a tragedy of nature with the potential to influence the result of the British election with the incumbent party in a position to benefit from a "rally round the flag" factor.
With Britain and the European continent locked into a dark haze, a fog-generated result of Iceland volcano action, the challenging parties are thrust into a distinct disadvantage.
At the very time when David Cameron and Nick Clegg hope that British voters will tune into messages advocating change the people are concerned about being locked in, not being able to fly, and what the overall consequences will hold resulting from unanticipated events generated in Iceland.
Political media professionals know how important each cycle is, how precious every 24-hour period is leading to a national election. Recall also that British national elections are just a little over one month, making those cycles even more precious.
Another factor is also in play that greatly assists Gordon Brown and Labour.
A well known national leader who before becoming prime minister served in the high visibility post of chancellor of the exchequer, the British government's equivalent of the U.S. position of secretary of the treasury, Brown has a built in opportunity to use all the media time he will do all that is necessary to deal with the crisis.
Brown and other Labour spokespersons can, without having to say anything in this direction, assure the British people through actions and statements that the government is on their side and prepared to serve them.
Labour has been in power since 1997 and Brown is in a position to make the case that this is an experienced government of familiarity that is there to serve the people's best interests.
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