I'm a Labour Party member, and have been for thirty years. I'm also a life-long Sunderland supporter, so you'd think that by now I'd be used to my fair share of disappointment. So while I'm still waiting for Sunderland's first win of the season, I'm fairly confident that they'll do reasonably well (i.e. avoiding relegation), and may even finish comfortably mid-table. The reason for my confidence is that they've got a good manager, who is well respected, and who many believe should have been canonised after leading the team to safety at the end of last season.
However, I can't be as confident in the abilities of the Labour Party leadership to win the next election, or even in them putting a credible alternative to the bunch of asset-stripping spivs who govern us at the minute. The problem is the party's complete lack of leadership, and the determination not to do or say anything that would spook Middle England. To use another football analogy, it's like when Sven was manager of England, and the team would play for either a draw or a one-nil win, which was boring to watch, and deeply uninspiring. Now Labour are slightly ahead in the poles, it seems that we are being force-fed blancmange, with nothing of any substance reaching the table.
It's not all Ed Miliband's fault - he comes across as a fairly decent wonk - but there just isn't anybody in the shadow cabinet who appears to have any leadership qualities, and is capable of stirring a fire in the belly. The Labour Party is now a party run by back-room boys, seemingly more interested in the opinions of focus groups than it is in the opinions of those it was set up to represent. I've stopped going to meetings - a combination of disillusionment and life being too short - although I still deliver a round of leaflets from time to time (and even that's becoming more difficult).
I fear the worst next year, not just for my party, but for my country. My prediction is that the Tories will win with a working majority, and Miliband will quit as leader. Unfortunately, there's nobody there to replace him who look like they're capable of doing any better.