Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The great election conundrum

I've left a few comments here and there on other people's blogs with regard to the ongoing debate over whether Gordon Brown will call a snap autumn election, but not so far specifically blogged on it myself.

So what's my view? Well, at the risk of making an almighty arse of myself if El Gordo announces he's going to the country tomorrow, I don't think an election this year is in any way likely, for two main reasons.

First, Labour has a healthy majority of 66. Given that the polls are still reasonably close and the fact that boundary changes at the next election are likely to benefit the Tories by 20-30 seats, I cannot see why Gordon would want to hold an election which might cut that majority before one needed to held.

Even if he did achieve a mandate of his own, it would hardly look like a great victory if he was returned with a smaller majority than Tony Blair - or even worse, forced into a coalition deal with his pal Ming Campbell.

Secondly, and more fundamentally though, I believe that to succumb to the temptation to hold an election at this time could do irreparable damage to the "Brown brand."

In my view, his whole political appeal rests on him being seen by the public as a man of strong principle and serious purpose - not one who is merely looking to capitalise on what is almost certainly a temporary period of turmoil for David Cameron's Tories.

A snap election would also demonstrate a complete lack of faith in his own ability to sustain the "Brown bounce" - or at least the confidence and trust of the electorate - beyond some vaguely defined honeymoon period.

By next June, Brown will have had a year in which to demonstrate his seriousness of purpose, with hopefully some solid achievements behind him. That will be the time, in my view, to start putting his party in election mode.

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septicisle. said...

On the other hand, the thinking has to be within the Brown camp that this may be the best chance they'll get to stay in power and get Gordon the mandate he doesn't have. By next spring countless things could have gone horribly wrong, while a snap election in October is likely to keep some of the Brown bounce and "the shock of the not so new" fresh. It might of course come down to money, something which Labour doesn't yet have.

James said...

Paul, I think your right and the much more likely option is for spring/summer next year.

But if Brown does want to make a ballsy move this year I think he could sell it to the country. The line should be that he has provided the country with an opportunity to see what a Brown led Labour government is like and that it is now time to let the public decide whether they wish to endorse that. There is also the advantage that the Conservatives will probably be very policy light if such an early move is made, so it could be difficult for them to shake off the slimy toff's tag.

As for the money situation, I'm not sure but a lot of people are saying they could bring forward future donations and squeeze some loans out of some people to cover it.

skipper said...

Yes, the question of Labour's £26m debt would tend to make the spring 08 date more attractive but even then money would be a problem.

nullo said...

i think your argument works against calling an election for october, but i dont know about next spring. your second consideration doesn't apply to next spring. and if the tories continue on this slide, i think it might be next spring

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Anonymous said...

Four points:
Firstly,Brown made a big deal about his government being one of change (he mentioed it 9 times in his Downing street speach),so if we have an election in October where are the promised changes in education,NHS etc.

To have an election in October Labour will need to raise around £35 million in less than 3 months.
£ 17 million of current debt mainly to banks is due for repayment by end 2007 and the rest would be required for the campaign.

Thirdly the electorate may see an election as totally unecessary and opportunistic and vote accordingly,he already has a majority of 66,so why do we need an election.

Lastly the tories would no doubt link their campaign to a referendum on the new EU constitution,this would expose Labour's broken promise for a referendum in their 05 manifesto.


Norfolk Blogger said...

By next year interest rates will have gone up. Food prices are set to rocket with more demand from the far eat and dreadful crops due to flooding and extreme heat in Europe leading to more inflationary pressures. All these things combined would suggest that waiting might be disastrous.

Anonymous said...

Next spring, surely? Before the economic downturn starts to bite?