Sunday, August 19, 2007


Odds on Autumn Election Shorten

So far I've been very sceptical on the chances of an election this autumn. The political case against includes: lack of Labour funds to finance an election-the party is £26m in debt; the steady funding of marginal constituencies by cash from Lord Ashcroft; the strength of the SNP in Scotland which threatens Labour's seats north of the border; the redrawn constituency boundaries which will give the Tories some 20 seats extra; and, it can be argued, Brown has not had enough time for his team to really show their paces. In addition to this powerful case against, Brown will not want to lose an election right now and become the shortest serving PM since Bonar -Law 1922-3.

Nor will he want to be returned with a majority slighter than that gained in 2005- though I guess he'd make do with one of, say, 40 rather than the present 65, but it would appear to be a kind of defeat if he lost any ground at all, even if he gained a mandate lasting until autumn 2012. I've just checked that excellent blog Political Bettingand have to add to the case against the fact that several recent polls have found Conservative voters registering more heavily as certain to vote than Labour.

But the case for going is almost hideously seductive as The Observer explains today.

* Senior advisers feel Brown has been quickly accepted as PM and that the negative fears 'have evaporated'.

* polls- some showing a 10 point lead- indicate Gordon would gain an increased majority if he went now.

* Cameron is suffering a sustained downward blip which Labour would love to exploit.

In addition to this could be added:

* in 1964 when Labour last fought an autumn election, they won- albeit by a sliver- and again in 1974. So history might be seen to be on Gordon's side. Moreover, with a poll lead, if Callaghan had gone in October 1978, he might well have won the contest.

* the economy is still OK, just, but some experts predict stormy weather for it over the next two years or so; better to get the election out of the way now then runs the argument.

* Labour may be broke but if it seems they can win donors, say the cynical experts, will soon come out of the woodwork to back the winner.

* Brown would hate to think he missed his ideal chance to beat Cameron, so soon into his first term.

So which way will he jump? The Observer suggests the decision has virtually been taken:

Gordon Brown has placed the Labour party on general election alert, instructing his campaign high command to draw up detailed plans for a possible snap poll in October, The Observer has learnt. Buoyed by Labour's 10-point lead in the polls, the Prime Minister has ordered a detailed blueprint with 'all options' to give him the opportunity of calling an election within weeks. One source close to the election group told The Observer: 'The brief is to be able to tell Gordon that if you want to call an election in a few weeks' time, this is what we're going to do and this is exactly how we're going to get it sorted.'

Personally I'm still doubtful Gordon's cautious nature will allow him to take such a risk- though I have to say that over the past couple of months, my doubts seem to be becoming less and less by the day.

Yep it has certainly moved from a crazy idea to a serious option.
June 2009. First week. Bet your house on it!!
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