|If this is losing, I'll have a bit of that please...|
The argument goes that Gordon Brown was a terrible Prime Minister, that a solid majority was ripe for the picking for the Tories and Cameron totally screwed it up.
I'm afraid I don't really buy it.
Yes, Brown was dreadful but for all kinds of complicated reasons it was always a big ask for Cameron to get a majority. In 2005 they were still way behind. The way Labour's vote is distributed across the country makes it hard for the Tories to get enough seats even in a bad year for Labour (indeed 2010 was the red team's second worst vote share since WWI). UKIP shaved some of the Tory vote away, enough to perhaps cost them a dozen or more seats by some calculations. The Lib Dems were surgent in a way not seen in previous elections. Etc. etc. etc.
I'm not trying to make excuses for Cameron. I am not a huge fan of his. It's just that the narrative that it was there for the taking and he bollocksed it up does not stand up to serious scrutiny. He actually got a larger share of the vote than Blair did in 2005 (which delivered Labour a solid majority) but it wasn't enough for him to get over the line.
Many across the political spectrum and within his own party really do consider the Prime Minister a loser though because of this lack of a majority. His own side mutter darkly about how if he does not win a majority next time then he will have twice failed the electoral test and will be forced out as leader, even if the Tories are still the largest party and can form a government. They cite Thatcher and Blair with their thumping majorities and highlight how by comparison Cameron came up woefully short, but that wilfully ignores how the political landscape has shifted over the decades.
Other countries where their Prime Ministers and Chancellors regularly have to share power and often go on to win successive election victories (i.e. remaining in power, not having a majority!) must look upon our hung parliament discourse with bemusement. For them, the dynamics of compromise and coalition are completely normal.
Many psephologists now think that hung parliaments in the UK will become the norm despite us retaining First Past the Post for the foreseeable future. The vote share of the two main parties combined has gone from around 97% in the 1950s to around 65% in 2010. The trend is clear, people want to vote for alternatives to red and blue. Whether it is Lib Dem, UKIP, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow and a multitude of other smaller parties, in the consumer and internet age we like to be able to exercise a much wider choice. This is not Cameron's fault and the idea he can somehow reverse all of these trends is completely unrealistic.
I think the analysts are right and we will see more coalitions/minority governments. Politics is now much more volatile and unpredictable than it once was. If I had to put money on it I would wager that in the next 20 years we will see at least half of the governments being led by someone who was unable to muster a majority at the ballot box.
If Cameron is a "loser", I suspect we're going to see many more such losers walking into 10 Downing Street in the not too distant future.