17th September 2006. Not a vital day in UK politics, but crucial for Sweden. It was the day of the Swedish general election when the Social Democrats lost control of the Riksdagen after 12 years in power. I was at Norra Latin in Stockholm for the election ‘party’ of the Social Democrats – not really much fun, but interesting in reflection. Mona Sahlin walked past me up the steps of the building, on the verge of tears. GÃƒÂ¶ran Persson made his concession speech, stating he would resign (Sahlin would eventually take over). And I had a very interesting chat with one of the Social Democrat MEPs. “What can Labour learn from this?” I asked her. “You need something new,” she said. “New? How new?” “Someone that is not associated with the past. Someone that can distinguish themselves from the years you’ve had in government…” “So, Gordon…?” “I said new.” With things looking grim for Gordon, and for Labour, those words ring loud in my ears.
Cameron will be 41 if the general election is in 2009, and Gordon Brown 58. In 2006 in Sweden, Reinfeldt was 41 and Persson was 58. Let’s hope for a better result than Persson managed.