Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Election: But why would he?

The politics news and blog aggregation site PoliticsHome - still the only pure-play political new media operation which can boast a Lobby pass - sends me a breathless press release stating that most "Westminster experts" think Gordon Brown should call an election in the Spring.

Well, it's nice that I'm on their mailing list....but if that is what counts for Westminster expertise these days, it's perhaps a good thing they are not the ones advising the PM.

The question that no-one has really answered in this latest bout of media election frenzy is why Gordon Brown would or should go to the country with the Tories still comfortably ahead in the opinion polls.

In September 2007 Labour was 13 points ahead he and didn't have an election. Now he's at least 5pc behind even on the most positive polls for Labour and a bunch of "Westminster experts" think he should risk it. Why on earth would he?

The only leading blogger who seems to understand this is Ben Brogan, who, it should not be forgotten, correctly called the autumn 2007 decision a day or two before Gordon himself announced it.

He quotes a Brown aide thus: "Election? No chance. There's more chance of getting Gordon and David Cameron to record a duet of 'Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree'." Bring it on, I say.

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Gareth said...

Because things can only get worse.

At least if he goes to the polls now he can come out with an equal number of MPs (even if he polls 5% less than the Tories).

If he waits he'll be remember as the man who destroyed the Labour Party (hopefully), and it won't be too far fetched if the Tories get in and cap donations from Unions.

But as he's a coward, you're probably right, he'll leave it and hang onto power that's not legitimately his to hold for as long as possible.

Paul Linford said...

It's not how politics works old chap. No PM calls an election knowing they are going to lose, or at least lose their majority. There is always a chance that something will turn up, which is why Brown will play it long.

Ted Foan said...

Quite right Paul. No point leading Labour over the cliff sooner than is necessary. He's still got enough of his finger nails left to tough it out until the last possible moment. But then again "events, dear boy, events....". Another Macmillan quote!

Anonymous said...

You do know PoliticsHome is funded by a Tory right? Their so called panel of experts is useless. Probarbly not even real!!

Verification code: liers

Now there's a thought ...

MatGB said...

Paul, exact same answer I gave to Sunder earlier today: "Really? You really think Brown will do a Callaghan and wait out the full five year term?

I never have, and still don’t. I’ve been saying autumn 2009 to people for some time now, and stick by it—there’s a chance he’ll bring it forward to May/June, which would fulfill his ‘full term’ idea as 4 years is considered full by anyone sane, but I still reckon autumn is more likely.

Going the full 5 years is both unusual and historically not the best of plans—Major pulled it off (just) but mostly by running a completely unexpectedly good campaign.

As it happens, for the exact same reason that Toque gives, Brown's a coward. Staying right to the end risks something really bad happening, odds of things getting worse are probably higher than things gettig better.

Going when you're roughly even in the polls is probably his best bet now, staying to the last will be too big a risk for him IMHO.

Gareth said...


I know that's not how it works, which is why he'll hang on to power for as long as possible under a mandate won for him by Blair. And then he'll loose.

He has no vision for the country, he's not a listening prime minister; he won't allow the public to judge him on his record or what he regards as his vision for Britain, he's just a coward.

Instead he'll just plough ahead with more petty legislation, building on Blair's appalling legacy, with precious little of any value of his own because he lacks credibility and mandate and vision and instinct.

He's not so much a lame duck, more a duck that doesn't even float - he was dead in the water from the beginning.