Saturday, September 29, 2007

Election Fever

Will Gordon go for it? Apparently he will be mulling it over this week-end.

Here is the case for a snap election:

(i) Labour is enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls; the "Brown bounce" seems to be holding.
(ii) It will give Brown an opportunity to obtain his own "mandate" (nonsense in terms of British constitutional arrangements, but probably psychologically important to Gordon himself).
(iii) The Tories are in a stew, with Cameron unable to decide whether to do a Coulson-right-turn or a Hilton-left-turn, with the Tebbit-tendency in revolt and Gordon triangulating like a maniac (Although I find this latter rather gimmicky and somewhat distasteful. Is it really necessary to purloin the BNP slogan: "British jobs for British workers"?).
(iv) It might not get better: house prices (so beloved of Middle England) may take a dip, the credit boom looks like coming to an end, interest rates may rise...some commentators are arguing that the cautious thing to do - and Gordon is judged a cautious creature - is to "go early" on the grounds that it can't get better.
(v) If he doesn't take the plunge it may look like he "bottled it" as - some argue - he did in 1994 by not standing against Tony (when, of course, he would have been beaten!).
(vi) The Tories, with the help of Lord Charlie Ashcroft are pouring money into marginals they think they can win; an early election foreshortens this as the statutory spending limit would kick-in.
(vii) Oh, and did I mention the lead in the opinion polls...?

Here is he case against:

(i) Polls are fickle. Things can change. It's not so long ago that they showed that, if Brown became Labour Leader, the Tories would have a bigger lead than the one they had before Blair departed (Blair? Who he?). In the context of an election, it could be they will shift again.
(ii) The Tories could recover. It may depend on how well Cameron does at Conference. If he decides to robustly confront and "see off" the Tebbit-tendency that could do him a lot of good. It's not all over just yet.
(iii) If he loses Brown would be the shortest serving PM since...well, since who? (Some are saying Bonar-Law and others George Canning. I haven't worked it out, but at any rate he would have served for less than a year, and he must be terrified of that...(How Cherie would laugh).
(iv) Voters don't like unecessary elections, and they may decide to punish Brown for making them endure one.
(v) There is no need to go. He is not in the same position as Callaghan in 1978 (in his fourth year leading a minority government); he has a comfortable majority and can wait until 2010. If it all goes pear-shaped in 2008 there is still time to try to get back on course.
(vi) A "dash to the polls" may look like an (opportunist) attempt to exploit a (temporary?) poll lead; or may look like an attempt to get re-elected before the economy runs into difficulty. Either may boomerang on Brown. "It's about perception, Stupid".

What will he do? Absolutely no idea. Wild guess? He'll go for it.


Blogger skipper said...

Neat little summary here. I think Gordon may have blown it though: allowed speculation to race ahead while Tories have been pegging back the poll gap. Can he row back back now he's so close to the brink of the election waterfall? Not without sever political damage.

9:51 am  

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