Because one of the Coalition Government’s first acts was introducing fixed term parliaments, we know that in exactly two years’ time the nation will be embroiled in a general election campaign.
A meeting took place earlier this year between two people which may have a significant bearing on the outcome of that vote.
Among all the usual Westminster sound and fury about leadership plots, economic figures, alcohol pricing and horse meat, the meeting between Lord Ashcroft and Douglas Alexander went unheralded by most but it was an intriguing episode.
Lord Ashcroft is a billionaire and former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party who bankrolled the Tories for years.
He poured cash into marginal seats ahead of the 2010 election and David Cameron apparently gave him a large office at the heart of the campaign headquarters.
Since then he’s made it plain he has little time for the Coalition and is believed to have quit funding the Conservatives in dismay at David Cameron’s pursuit of “fringe issues” such as gay marriage.
But for him to then call up the Labour party requesting a meeting is entirely unexpected.
Labour were surprised by the approach, too, but in these hard times you don’t turn down dinner with a billionaire even if he was responsible for getting a lot of your MPs beaten at the last election.
And it’s the other side of the equation that perhaps has more long-term implications. Labour sent Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.
It’s a sign of how vital Alexander is becoming to Labour that he was trusted to talk to Ashcroft.
Alexander looks young because he is, but he’s a Cabinet veteran having served under both Blair and Brown in government. That experience earns him respect.
He’s stuck around because he’s blessed with brains, too. The entire family is. His sister Wendy, then Labour leader in Scotland, faced up to Alex Salmond over independence and dared him to “bring it on”.
Her benefactor and boss Gordon Brown quickly put a stop to such talk and, in so doing, brought the curtain down on her political career but also spiked what subsequent events have proved would probably have been an effective strategy by Labour in Scotland.
While Scottish politics is currently littered with half-baked ideas and schemes to counter the nationalist surge, Alexander made a speech in Edinburgh earlier this year arguing for a sort of constitutional convention to be set up post-referendum to look at putting together a permanent as far as that is possible settlement for Scotland.
The speech was short of soundbites but long his speeches are generally lengthy affairs on reason and competence. While other figures like to trail their speeches and puff up their significance, Alexander quietly delivered one of the most intelligent contributions yet to the independence debate.
Again it was a sign of his standing. Scotland matters to Labour they need Scottish seats to win Downing Street.
When not dealing with Ashcroft and independence Alexander is Shadow Foreign Secretary, another role that’s low-profile but vital.
Last week he was in America, making contacts and delivering another speech that didn’t grab the headlines but made it clear that he, and Labour, understand the special relationship and broader international relations.
With the economy essentially busted and the political balance extremely tight, comparisons are often drawn between today and the 1970s.
Then, as now, Labour’s front bench was a mix of imbeciles and intelligentsia but the most brilliant among them was sometime Foreign Secretary Tony Crosland. And there is still a streak of Labour thinking dubbed “Croslandite”.
Nearly 40 years later Labour have another bright spark whose influence spreads well beyond his foreign affairs brief.
What price people talking of “Alexanderist” thinking in another generation’s time?