But they could very well find that they come back to some very nasty surprises. Especially in the economy. The Conservatives got elected because enough people believed that they just might have fixed the economy so it was worth a vote to see if they could finish the job. If the UK roars ahead and ordinary people see their lives improve then they will be in power for a very long time.
But what if they haven't fixed the economy? What if it is about to turn sour on them? If that happens they will quickly turn into the most unpopular government ever.
I happen to think that it is highly unlikely that the economy will continue to grow at anything like the rate the government needs in order to remain popular and that it is even more unlikely that ordinary voters will get the benefits of the growth that does take place. There are a number of reasons for this.
1. There are £30 billion more of cuts to come that will directly impact on demand for goods and services and because the people who received that money won't spend it there will be a multiplied impact of these cuts.
2. The £375 billion of quantitative easing which has counteracted the cuts is highly unlikely to continue. In the past, whilst talking about austerity the government have actually run the printing presses like never before. But instead of investing this money on long term needs such as reduction in energy demand it has been pumped into the banking system where it has been lent out to finance a boom in house prices and a short lived boom in share prices. In other words it helped fuel a financial mini boom instead of repairing the imbalances in the economy. The end of QE means austerity will hit with full force instead of being massively cushioned.
3. Our economy is still badly imbalanced. We depend very heavily on areas of the service industry which could easily come under much stronger competition from abroad now that we have established a reputation for fixing Forex & Libor rates. There has been little investment in developing industries of the future such as low energy production and consumption.
4. The slowdown in global demand is bound to impact on the UK. The Great Fall of China may prove a market correction or a start of another bust but either way it looks very much like the world economy is entering a phase of slower growth. UK exports are likely to fall.
5. It looks likely that we are entering a period of deflation. That tends to act as a major break on growth. Just look at Japan over the last 20 years. It is very hard to get out of deflation and a government that preaches the need for austerity and wants to pass a law forcing balanced budgets onto the government in every single year is unlikely to know how to get out of it.
6. Our major trading partner, the EU, is being led by a German Chancellor who believes in austerity politics. We therefore have slow growth in demand and several major European countries struggling with horrendous rates of unemployment of 25%. They are being asked to cut back expenditure even further. That has to impact on the UK
7. We have not created strong enough international mechanisms to prevent another financial panic like the one that triggered all our problems in 2008. If it does no one can predict how well the world economy will survive but we do know that we are still struggling to clean up the last free market collapse.
There are, of course, a number of positive indicators which could rescue the government. The USA is still growing rapidly on the back of its major $3 trillion QE programme and is unlikely to try and row back on this growth in the run up to an election. Many developing countries are still recording very strong growth rates and are able to buy more from abroad. Low prices for oil and commodities and low interest rates could mean standards of living can hold up despite the cuts. We could have a change in technology that requires major investment and triggers a strong upturn such as when computers first came in. There is also the momentum of the bounce back that any economy normally experiences after a period of contraction. In normal times we would have had a relatively long downturn and be due a strong upturn as part of the natural cycle of the economy.
But I don't think we are living in normal times. And the biggest single thing that could happen to derail the economy is a repeat of the panic of 2008. Unguided free markets are not wonderfully wise things that are always right in every circumstance. They are the product of the actions of flawed individual human beings. When those human beings all panic at the same time and the mechanisms to counteract those panics are too weak then the market is vulnerable to collapse. No one knows when the next collapse will come or what form it will take. Events in the Chinese stock market may very well prove to be a temporary market correction that is forgotten in weeks or they could spread elsewhere and trigger another major crisis. But they act as a stark reminder that there is no real confidence out there. At some stage during the next five years the government could easily find itself dealing with a repeat of problems on the scale of 2008. Having blamed the last crash on Gordon Brown they are going to have some difficulty explaining any crash that happens on their watch.
And then there is the issue of the referendum over Europe. If you think the Labour Party is divided wait until you see the falling out in the Conservatives about whether to stay in or not. One section thinks that it is vital for our business interests that we remain in the EU at all costs. I happen to agree with them. The other section thinks that it is vital that we get out of this super state that is imposing controls on the always super efficient and magical free market. These are not compatible views. They are not views that there can be a compromise over. No amount of pressure from the whips office is going to convince significant numbers of Conservative MPs that they must shut up and support Cameron's desperate last minute campaign to stay in.
So I hope Cameron had a nice relaxed time with his family. I think his troubles and ours are just beginning. If I am right then he is going to become the most unpopular leader this country has ever had so he might as well enjoy himself whilst he can!