Saturday, September 29, 2007

 

Snap Election Depends on Tory Conference Outcome

Martin Kettle delivers a broadside against an early election today. He argues that:

In a mere three months Brown has gone a long way to recreating the New Labour coalition that Blair built and then squandered over Iraq. This week's 11-point YouGov lead was probably momentary. Yet the hegemonic centre ground project is back in business, with the Tories shoved to the right, the Liberal Democrats eclipsed and the left effectively destroyed. Some may call the result a one-party state on Japanese lines. A few may even whisper about fascism. Yet what was unmissable at Bournemouth was that, absent an electoral reform that it would not be in Labour's interests to promote, the party's prospects of a 20-year stretch in government look brighter than ever

However, noting that Brown lacks any genuinely independent political adviser, Kettle urges caution and goes on to condemn the notion of a snap election as perhaps a bit too obviously 'expedient, vain and immoral'; Brown runs the risk of appearing to 'cut and run'. A welcome new political blogger, Wyn Grant, from Warwick University weighs in with his analysis:

My sense is that the British public do not like unnecessary elections. Calling one now could seem opportunistic. These arguments would be somewhat weaker next May. Many people in the Labour Party think that Gordon Brown should cash in on his poll lead while he can. But in some ways I think that the poll lead is a mirage. There is a 'Brown bounce', but the polls are also recording a 'bandwagon' effect. Brown's lead could easily evaporate in a campaign or he could end up with a smaller majority or no majority at all.

But the siren songs of the polls are hard to resist. The Telegraph flags up another huge Labour lead and Peter Riddell in today's Times hardly offers dissuasion in analysing its Populus poll:

Moreover, the poll suggests that Mr Brown has a clear edge over Mr Cameron on key leadership attributes: by 59 to 30 per cent on having what it takes to be a good prime minister, and by 60 to 45 per cent on caring about the problems ordinary people face.

Finally, that excellent site Political Betting suggests that the polls are now too good to pass up and that Gordon will suffer a backlash if he fails to show courage which has failed him in the past when crucial decisions have come up. Whether or not he takes the gamble depends, I suspect, on how the Conservative conference goes. Any overt wobbling, division or gaffes might just tip the balance for Gordon to tilt for that already mentioned ambition of another 20 years in power. Cameron had better hold his nerve in his biggest test to date.

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