But that aroma has been strong this year and never more heady than when Boris Johnson defeated Ken Livingstone to be London mayor in May.
Labour, on the other hand, has been reduced to one strategy: the economy – and it is an unpleasant truth that the source of Labour’s recent recovery in the polls is due to the financial upheaval. Global crisis has been enough to save Brown’s job when few thought he would see out the year. But regardless of how impressed people are with Labour’s decisive action on the economy, few people vote out of gratitude. If the slump is recovering by the next election, people won’t feel they need Brown as their economic security blanket.
The PM is clawing his way back, taking two steps forward with a major restructuring of his comms team and then losing ground with the Damian Green affair. It is beginning to look like a Rocky Balboa-style bloody recovery for the underdog and Brown won’t mind how battered he gets as long as he is the victor when the bell rings.
It would be wrong to forget the Liberal Democrats, despite Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party into an abyss of anonymity. To make matters worse, this is counterpointed by the elevation of MP Vince Cable to almost messianic status. It must be frustrating for Clegg to see journalists hanging on Cable’s every word when he himself couldn’t get their attention if he wore a chicken costume. Furthermore, they still do not know if they will have to repay £2.4m donated by a fraudster and they have lost another major donor who disagrees with their tax policies.
In a year dominated by economic meltdown, all the major political parties have had their successes and failures. And looking at Britain’s financial outlook, next year may prove to be remarkably similar.
Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey