Early Election?

With a poll showing the parties within touching distance, the speculation about an early election have been rife. How likely is it, I really don’t know, but let’s look at the pros and cons.

On the pro side…

1) The economy is likely to get worse. The CBI’s predictions last week had the recession continuing through 2009 and reaching its nadir in early 2010 with unemployment at around 3 million. In other words, if Brown waits until the last moment for an election he will be fighting it at the very worst moment economically, when the public’s spirits have been sapped by economic hardship, they are likely blaming him for lost jobs, lower incomes and repossessed houses and yet, there aren’t quite any tangible signs of recovery.
2) The polls are close enough to stand a chance. On the new electoral boundaries the Conservatives need a lead of somewhere around 10 points for a majority (it depends on how well the Lib Dems do) and Labour can be the biggest party in a hung Parliment even if they are a couple of points behind. So while the polls are still all showing the Conservatives ahead, we are for the first time in months in a position where Labour would have at least a chance of coming out of an election with the most seats.
3) Waiting till the last minute leaves no room for maneouvre. If Gordon Brown waits until the very last minute in 2010 it does leave him with no room for maneouvre at all. Think back to Tony Blair being forced to delay the election because of foot and mouth. If Brown waits all the way to June 2010 he has no such wiggle room, if there is a fuel protest or a major strike or some political scandal he can’t shelve the election for a season.
4) Signs of preparation. Labour are getting on with selecting candidates in unwinnable seats, ConservativeHome reported a rumour of Labour candidates getting all their candidate with Gordon photos done this month, the implication being they are for election leaflets. The NEC has apparently set up a new campaigning fund for future donations to go into. It would be wrong to say that Labour are going onto an election footing, we would have picked up much firmer signs, but the foundations are going down.
5) The cutting and running argument wouldn’t wash. If a big reason against calling an election is how it would look, the reality is that it would be only one day’s news story. Once an election really gets started the media and the political parties will be talking about more important things than the timing of the election.
6) He hasn’t ruled it out. There has been a lot of speculation about an early election, even in September and October it kept cropping up. While Gordon Brown has made coded comments about concentrating on getting on with the job he has conspicuously failed to rule out an early election.

On the other hand…

1) Going for an early undermines Brown’s selling point and the narrative that has got Labour back in the running. Currently Brown’s recovery rests on the message that he is the steady, reliable hand on the tiller at a time of crisis, that the country doesn’t need any risky alternatives, just let solid, trustworthy Gordon get on with the task at hand. Obviously this doesn’t sit well with calling an election that isn’t needed for a year – people would ask why Brown was calling an election rather than “getting on with the job”. The story might pass quickly, but it would be a very bad start to an election campaign.
2) You can do a lot in 18 months. At the moment Gordon Brown is Prime Minister and has a substantial majority in the Commons. If he goes now he might be the biggest party in a hung parliament and cobble together a deal with the Lib Dems, he might even scrape a majority. Then again, he might be kicked out, in which case he can do nothing at all and has thrown away his premiership. It isn’t actually a very good bet, and there is nothing forcing him to take it. Even if he has, say, a 30% chance of winning an election now or a 5% chance of winning one in 2010, if he waits till 2010 he has a guarantee of 18 months of being Prime Minister and running the country. That’s not something to be thrown away lightly.
3) On the present polls he would still lose. There is a tendency to take the most recent poll as gospel and think “only 3 points – it’s really close”. In fact we should be looking at the broader picture of the polls, judging the figures produced by all the pollsters and at present there are still companies producing figures that show a Conservative victory – indeed ICM, who have one of the very best track records, have a 13 point Tory lead. The smallest Conservative leads in the polls are found in polls where the level of Lib Dem support has collapsed to the low teens and it seems unlikely they wouldn’t reclaim some of the support they have lost to Labour in the past few weeks once they had the enforced TV coverage an election campaign affords them. It’s perfectly possible that in the future the polls as a whole will suggest that labour could win an election, but right now, the broader picture still shows that the Conservatives would win the hypothetical “general election tomorrow”.
4) Even considering it risks disaster. Last October’s non-election was a disaster for Brown and he can’t risk repeating it. As Ben Brogan suggests here, if it was under consideration it would have to be kept incredibly quiet, but even so. It’s almost impossible to really keep an election under wraps – advertising contracts and extra staff are necessary, but give the game away. If Brown allowed whispers of another election to start building steam and then was seen to chicken-out a second time the damage to his image doesn’t bear thinking about.
5) Character. Put simply, whatever the arguments, Gordon Brown has shown himself to be rather risk adverse and not someone who relishes elections.


87 Responses to “Early Election?”

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  1. An excellent editorial.

    Still can’t see it happening until 2010 myself even if Labour’s prospects are better by going earlier.
    GB doesnt seem the type of person willing to face the electorate until he absolutely has to – although I could be wrong of course.

  2. In my opinion, if the polls show Labour ahead by Spring, then a June GE is a near certainty. Brown doesn’t like risk, that’s why he backed out of a GE last year and rightly so but this time the risk is rather dfifferent. He knows he must call a GE within 12 months come next Spring and being a man who doesn’t like risk, he’s going to call it for May or June next year. because he won’t risk being boxed in with the unforseen foot and mouth or strikes type of problem.

    I think the key to Brown’s decision will be if the Tory vote falls to around 36-38% for a few months and there is every likelihood of that happening. On those figures the Tories could not win a majority of seats and indeed anything less than 40% for the Tories is likely to mean they would not hold the majority of seats.

    I am sure the Libs will do better than 12%, however if Lib voters see a possibility of a Tory government, some of them will undoubtedly switch to Labour to attempt to keep the Tories out and that could really cause a Lib squeeze.

    Incidentally, in that latest Ipsos Mori poll which was based on those claiming to be certain to vote, the 6-10 level of certainty to vote actuall put Labour 2% ahead of the Tories.

    If the flip flops are back out of the wardrobe then I’d say there’s a close election on the cards in a few months! :)

  3. Like I’ve said before Autumn 2009 is my bet, simply because the election that never was was even better as a dry run for the real thing.

  4. I’m going for an election on April 2nd, 2009. This is the first Thursday after BST commences.

    I don’t believe the stories about Labour contemplating a winter election – I think it would look ridiculously expedient and Labour need better weather for a Poll, as their voters are typically less dedicated than Tory ones.

    Once winter is past though the pressure on Brown to go will be unstoppable if Labour are near parity in the polls or even slightly ahead. Therefore, a date in March or early April beckons. I don’t even reckon they will delay until the Euro elections – Labour don’t want EU relations issues being dragged into the campaign.

  5. Richard, some Lib Dems would move to the Tories if they thought they could win, so even more of a squeeze.

  6. The fact is we don’t know when GB will go but my feeling is that if he does go early, the impression of cut and run will be strong and damaging.

  7. Scoot, I agree – I took that as a given, so they could well be squeezed both ways to 12% ish.

    It will still be extremely difficult for Labour to get a majority, I think the only likely possibility of that happening is if the Tories and Labour tie on 37%ish with the Lib’s on 16% but can Brown really get a higher poll than Blair got at the last GE? Possible of course because it was really quite a low figure at 36% last time but it would be something of a feat for Brown to pull that off.

    If the Lib vote did get squeezed both ways then I can see 2%ish going each to the Tories and Labour which could indeed push that Lib vote down to 12%ish, hopefully that won’t happen though – they don’t deserve to lose 40 odd M.P’s.

  8. A close election scenario isn’t good for the SNP. People in Scotland would rally to labour and turn out in numbers to keep Brown in No 10.

    If Cameron was well ahead the both the SNP and Libdems would probably do better.

    Peter.

  9. Talk of LibDems being squeezed to 12% is complete nonsense . The LibDems are far stronger today than the Liberals were in 1979 following the Jeremy Thorpe affair and the LibLab pact and even then they polled 15% of the vote in the constituencies they fought . Any squeeze would be limited to perhaps 150-200 marginal seats and would be counterbalanced by a squeeze on Labour voters in LibDem/Con marginals and Conservative voters in LibDem/Lab marginals .
    FWIW my opinion is still that there will be no election until 2010 , Labour hoping that unemployment has peaked by then and perhaps started to fall . They will then be able to state that they had followed the right policies and the Cameron/Osborn austerity policy would have led to much higher unemployment .
    Remember it is fear of unemployment that costs governments votes not unemployment itself , even with 3 million unemployed bad though that is for those afected there would be more than 10 times that number in employmwnt or retired or at university .

  10. Let’s not forget there’ll be plenty of elections next June anyway – local and European. So any signs of preparation may just be for those… but then of course they could be a useful smokescreen to disguise any General Election planning.
    I think back to a poll we saw a few weeks ago, believe it was a YouGov one, where people said they wanted Brown & Darling now, during the challenging economic times, but would prefer a change to Cameron after the next election. By that logic, if Brown waits till 2010, and people feels the recession clouds are clearing, his newfound (and surely very fragile) reputation as the “reliable man in a crisis” would probably be his undoing…

    I’m going to guess June 2009. And this coming winter’s tax cuts could be a big part of the roadmap.
    My goodness though, if he does somehow manage to pull off a victory, it will go down as the most extraordinary comeback…

  11. gordon brown come back no chance and with the conservative in fighting moad it would still be hard for gordon to win the next election even with 36% of the vote beacuse as we all know from this year local elections if DC get on TV he picks up votes and during a genaral election he may pick up even more votes than now maybe 45 to 47% or higher

  12. You reckon Stuart? I suspect David Cameron’s TV appearance in which he said the Tories wouldn’t match Labour’s spending plans would have been more likely to cost him votes.

    Some of these contributions are starting to look like whistling to keep one’s spirits up.

  13. Cameron must seriously be hoping for an early election as there is a reasonable chance he could be toppled if he falls behind in the polls.

    Conservatives must be wringing their hands at the prospect of not being frontrunners.

    Reading today’s papers the Conservatives look like they are under threat of losing the support of both the Times and the Telegraph… more anti-Osborne invective coupled with dismay for Hague’s apathy and criticism of Andy Coulson and their small unrepresentative circle of advisers.

    Do I sniff mutiny? It seems there have already been whispered words in the tea rooms in reaction to the sudden volte face over tax policy.

    The PBR is growing in importance by the day.

  14. A few weeks ago I would have said no but now I would say it could happen for several reasons:

    1. Brown could say that four year terms are the norm and now is the time he was going to go for an election anyway.
    2. Inflation may be down to 2% or lower by then.
    3. The fiscal boost may have helped us out of the recession, if we go into recession, I know we will but some people forget we are not in recession yet!.
    4. BOE rate may be down to 1% by then.
    5. Unemployment may be dropping.
    6. The Conservatives may have dropped Osborne and look a bit unprepared for an election.
    7. Labour may be 5 or more points in the lead in the polls.

    Lots of maybes but unless number 7 comes to be then no there will not be an election in 2009.

  15. “the Tories wouldn’t match Labour’s spending plans would have been more likely to cost him votes.”

    This only makes sense if an electorate, who are reducing their own household budgets like crazy,would prefer their Government to stick to theirs regardless of circumstances.

    Mind you-at the moment that appears to be the message from the Polls.

    But lets see how things look when the Private Sector is haemorrhaging jobs & companies like Woolworths & Comet are teetering on the edge of liquidation.

    Will Gordons Giveaway next week still be keeping people happy next Easter?

  16. Gary Gatter’s analysis is a good one I think. The most unlikely of his suggestions I suspect, very sadly, is that unemployment could have started to fall. The others are a bit more likely. We don’t know the effect of the measures to be announced by the Government yet, but an improvement in consumer spending at least has to be a strong possibility, although not certain. Nevertheless Gordon Brown is not the kind of politician to call an election unless he’s pretty certain to win it or at least be at the head of the largest party. We will have to wait & see what the next poll(s) bring but such a scenario is clearly no longer an absurdity as it seemed before Labour’s Conference.

  17. Thanks Barnaby, I admit that unemployment is probably going to rise. Next Monday should be interesting. Wonder if there will be a poll soon after that?

  18. “Gordon Brown is not the kind of politician to call an election unless he’s pretty certain to win it or at least be at the head of the largest party”

    luckily we have maximum terms which will force his hand.

  19. In echos of the US auto industry’s plea for a bail-out, SMMT have asked Darling for a slice of the billions allocated for UK Bank bailout.

    Opel have asked Merkel for State help too.

    Back to the Future and Margaret Thatcher’s failed state intervention to save British Leyland.

    Interesting times.!

  20. Colin,

    I think comparrisons with Leyland aren’t really valid.

    What we have here is in some ways more akin to the airline industry after 9/11 where sound companies found themselves going to the wall because of a sudden shock.

    I don’t have that much sympathy for the likes of GM as they have been making poor products uncompetatively for years, but if you have a sound business, that is normally profitable, has invested and supports thousands of jobs, then a soft loan to help it through a cash cruch is probably a good policy.

    Oddly enough RR were in the news today laying off 2,000. My late father worked for all his life and I remember when they were in trouble.

    When the Tories bailed RR out it was because they had got in to difficulty funding the huge development costs of the then RB211.

    Since then that engine and it’s variants has become one of the all time best sellers in it’s class and put RR in the top two engine manufacturers for almost a quarter century.

    Redwood style “let the market decide” is no substitute for good judgement.

    Peter.

  21. Anthony.

    The 58 comments on the Scottish voting intentionss thread seem to have vanished. is this a glitch or an evil unionist plot….

    Peter.

  22. It’s amazing how volatile opinion is at the moment, here and more generally, on the basis of very little solid evidence. All we can really say with confidence is that when people looked the recession in the face, the Tories failed to pin the global meltdown on G.B. and also failed to provide a convincing alternative. So we have, for now, reached some sort of stalemate.

    After 11 years many voters have got fed up with Labour, but there have been few signs of them becoming positively enthusiastic about the Conservatives. And now many who may have thought of voting for Cameron mainly out of boredom with the “same old faces”, are no longer willing to give the Tories the benefit of the doubt at a time when we need to pull together.

    My guess is that while the future looks so uncertain, poll results are likely to fluctuate around small leads for one party or the other. Only when there is a decisive shift in global economic prospects – for good or ill – will the national mood settle down. That could be by May/June 2009, but it is more likely to be next autumn or later.

    And (ignoring all the daft spin about “bottling out” which the Tories used quite successfully to damage GB) no sane Premier would ever willingly commit his/her party to an unnecessary General Election while the national mood and polls were so volatile. I’m sure no election will be held unless Labour goes ahead – and stays ahead for some months – almost certainly not until October 2009, at the earliest.

  23. The telling time for Brown will come when events require him to step out of the Chancellor role he’s currently playing (and is comfortable in) and again perform the role of Prime Minister. The recent Baby P. issue was a reminder of just how awful Brown is when he’s forced out of his comfort zone.

    He stands the best chance of winning a General Election if he calls it while he can still play Chancellor rather than Prime Minister. But there are pitfalls too, as Anthony’s post shows.

  24. Peter-I wasn’t really making a direct comparison-just a general one of the times & events.

    Actually the car industries problems -certainly in USA-seem as much related to lack of credit for consumers as to reduced desire to purchase ( like you I exclude GM from that distinction-they are a Leyland lookalike)

    Congress have a huge decision to make which will impact globally.

    The more one hears just now the more one feels that Monetary Policy in UK has not yet worked-credit availability is still severely constrained. Brown is making noises about it following Cameron/Clegg’s questions at PMQs.

    You never see commentary on the monetary scale of bad debts on lenders books, and how much has been written off to date.If no one knows I’m not surprised that Banks don’t want to lend to each other…though the government inter-bank lending quarantee was supposed to cancel out this risk aversion.

  25. On The Daily Politics this morning Simon Jenkins said ” in times of crisis, people always turn to the Government”

    I think that about sums it up.

  26. You are forgetting about the ‘shy tory’ factor in the poll interpretation. It’s hard to know how strong that is at the moment, but consider that the polls in the two months following the 2005 election had Labour with around an 8-9% lead when they had only a 3% lead in the election. In the two months after an election it is hard to believe that people who voted against the government would rally behind them.

    Assuming ‘shy tory’ counts for a 4% swing in the polls, the Tories are still comfortably ahead. Of course, Cameron cannot rely on this. The pre-budget report is going to be incredibly important this year.

  27. If the polls show a consistent Labour lead by Spring ’09, then i believe a Summer ’09 GE is an almost certainty. Even though Brown may be wanting to go all the way to ‘010, Campbell and Mandelson will convince him that ’09 is the date.

  28. When Gordon Brown made clear that he would not have an election last year, he more or less promised that he would go the full-term to 2010, on the grounds Labour had a programme to deliver (although it’s legislation is becoming noticeably thin and uninspired). In consequence, if he went early he would be open to charges of opportunism and inconsistency.

    All the same, I think there must be a quite high likelihood that he is intending to hold an election next year. Probably in June to coincide with the Euroelections, which will otherwise raise embarassing issues.

    Brown has apparently done well in terms of popularity out of the economic crisis. In addition, despite contradictions to what I posted recently in relation to Glenrothes, I think that perceived parallels between the US Democrats and Labour give Brown a halo effect from Obama’s success ( and of course the US doesn’t interfere in UK elections, but do you think the incoming Obama administration would prefer a Conservative victory?). On the other hand if, as all the pundits and indicators suggests, unemployment reaches three million by the end of next year, this will clearly jeopardise Labour’s position. Indeed, as I pointed out in previous posts, it leads us into the politically unknown.

    There is another consideration: the Liberal Democrats. For once, they are not piggy in the middle, because all three parties now have clearly distinctive answers to the economic crisis:-
    1. Labour. Spend your way out of trouble by borrowing to encourage short-term consumer spending.
    2. Conservative: Address the economic problems as effectively as possible without increasing the already excessive National Debt.
    3. Liberal Democrats: regenerate economic activity by borrowing to bring forward essential capital projects, specifically on energy and transport.
    I have posted some very negative comments in the past on this site about the LibDem’s outdated, and consequently psephologically ineffective, economic policies, but I think that their response to recent economic policies has given them (presumably at the instigation of Vince Cable) ones which are their own, which it happens I think are the right ones on a very important matter indeed, and which more to the point I think many electors would agree with if they were put forward adequately.
    And that is the Liberal Democrat’s problem. Nick Clegg is coming across as a weak bureaucratic style figure, a pale imitation of Dave Cameron. To be honest, I don’t think Chris Huhne would have been any different. They need somebody stronger. Probably not Vince Cable because he is needed as Finance Spokesman and, to be blunt, after Sir Menzies Campbell they can’t have another older, balding, leader who has made his name as an exceptionally competent subject expert (it hurts me as a strong opponent of ageism to write this). I have recently posted here in relation to Caithness and Sutherland, where the LibDems have the sort of as yet little known MP with a very strong political and personal image who could (if able enough, which I don’t know about) rejuvenate the LibDems quickly for a 2010 election. Realistically, the LibDems only opportunity to change their leader is in Autumn 2009, both because of their Annual Conference and to give the time to distance them from the two changes of leader they have already made in the current Parliament.
    Two comments on this. There are nineteenth and early twentieth century precedents for opposition parties to change their leader repeatedly during one parliament. It did not seem to matter providing they ended up with the right person when the music stops. Secondly, given their current condition in the polls, I think the psephological indications are that the LibDems should change their leadership as soon as possible, but I don’t see it happening. (Sorry, Nick Clegg, it is nothing about you personally, you come across as quite likeable, but bluntly you simply haven’t delivered results according to the opinion polls).
    The point of this is that many electors see both Tories and Blair/Brown Labour as associated with the international establishment which has led the world into crisis, and made it affect the UK particularly because industry has been destroyed for the sake of financial arrangements, notably high interest rates, to support London as a world centre at the core of this unsustainable mess. By 2010, the Liberal Democrats could make themselves apparently distinct as a “new broom”. But if he held an election in 2009, Brown would not give the Liberal Democrats (or any other really different party) time to make a serious challenge.

    The Greens appear not to have the strength (or money?) to make their alternative economic policies stick with electors. Recent events in many ways vindicate them: the current financial crisis and looming environmental problems are not separate but follow from the same political and economic mismanagement. But they are not in line to make a serious challenge in 2010, let alone 2009. Witness their lack of a candidate at Glenrothes, where both the Conservatives and LibDems did so badly that a Greeen might well have come third after Labour and SNP.

    Despite this lengthy post, I have a final point I do not want to leave out. I have repeatedly pointed out that until 1979, when Callaghan’s hand was forced by Commons defeat, it was illegal to hold nationwide elections at different levels on the same day. And so it should be. Thatcher and subsequent Prime Minnisters have repeatedly called elections on the same day as local elections for short-term party advantage. But it confuses electors, undermines debate in local issues and devalues the political process. These effects are highly deplorable and I think that psephologists should point them out at every opportunity.

  29. Frederic Stansfield, I would like to disagree on your last point, I do think people can hold two thoughts in their heads and have a bit more trust that they would not be confused by having two nationwide elections on the same day. I am not a very clever person and I think I can cope with it, I am sure others can too.

  30. Why all this talk of an election now? We are entering a recession – what’s the point of the parties all spending exorbidants amount of money when there are people struggling with their food and fuel and heating bills?

    This country has gone to the dogs….

  31. An early election would be a disaster for the Tories, win or lose

    Tories lose it and are torn apart with another leadership battle

    Tories win it and end up getting blamed anyway for the outcome of a terrible recession. The Brown machine keeps power, constantly undermines Tory economic actions, has a chance of winning a confidence vote in two years, Tories out of power for another generation!

    Yoopers poopers

  32. I’m coming round to thinking that early April 09 is when he’ll go to the polls.
    He’ll have had his tax giveaways, inflation will be lower, and unemployment will be climbing but won’t have peaked.
    He will have just hosted the G20 and will be basking in the glow again.
    Unless the opinion polls show Labour going belly-up I think the first two weeks of April are a good bet.

  33. Can anyone explain why the LibDems are doing so well on the spread markets given their absolutely dire poll ratings at the moment. I grant you that it is normal for them to pick up come an election, but in the past month they have slipped on average another 1.5% in the polls.

    Surely their levels of support now (and if you look at the regional breakdowns in their heartlands of the SW and Scotland it’s arguably even worse there) make them liable to lose a huge amount of the gains they made from the Tories in 97 if a sudden General Election becomes in the eyes of the MSM a clear Cameron/Brown choice?

  34. I think everyones assuming this Brown Bounce is going to be sustained and will grow. I think thats the wrong assumption. Things have been far too volatile this autumn to be sure whats going to happen next. I could easily imagine Conservative support growing through the winter.

    About Jenkins claim that support for governments always grows during crisis’s: How then does he explain three changes of government out of four elections in the 1970’s? ;)

  35. If the polls stay this lose expect an election as soon as Feb 2009.

    Churchill would have won a landslide during the war. Once the crisis was over – he was kicked out.

    Brown is in the same position; a snap election, vote for Brown to handle the crisis? Or wait until the crisis has passed and hope to get thanked?

    Of those two choices, it has to be the snap election.

  36. There are several other signs that NuLab is clearing the decks for an early election – or at least, keeping all their options open

  37. The Liberals could find themselves with a share of vote not much better than in 1979.

    (It’s not out of the question it could be similar).

    It is highly unlikely that any squeeze would be confined to marginal C/Lab seats,
    and more likely that almost all the polls and elections after 2005 are telling us that they are doing worse in general.

  38. If you are in secure employent next year you could do rather well with interest rates, oil prices and inflation all falling to low levels plus maybe some tax giveaways.
    This could be enough to make GB think of going to polls.
    However the plain fact is that possibly 1M people will lose their jobs next year and the Government’ finances will go from bad to horrendous. The tax take will decrease substantially and there will be a lot more benefits to pay.

    Much will depend on how the press report the oncoming recession but as long as the Tories have some sort of lead then I don’t think GB will risk an election.

  39. I’ve just checked this fact out:-

    Since 1945 there have been 17 GE.

    The combined Lib Lab vote has only ever been less than 50% on one occassion. (And even then it was 49%).

    So the (very) least we should expect to see at a GE is, say, Lab 33%%, LD 16%.

    The polls as they stand just now, don’t bear historical scrutiny.

  40. I’ve alwayes thought the election would see a reult of something like;

    Con 42% Lab 32% Lib 18% and a Tory majority of around 40. I still think this will be the case in the end.

  41. but KTL if you lose your job or fear you are going to lose your job would that make you more like to vote Tory? I suspect not as the Tories are generally considered to be better for wealthier people. If you fear you are going to lose your job I think most people would rather be in difficulties under a Labour government which is more likely to be sympathetic to people who are struggling than the Tories. I see the argument that you may blame the Labour government but fear of the dole and a dependency on public services under a Tory government may actually keep people voting Labour

  42. At the moment I feel the timing of the election is very open indeed, and in Macmillan’s phrase is likely to be determined by ‘events’. It does surprise me that so many commentators attach importance to the impact of the likely substantial increase in unemployment – 3 million unemployed did not prevent Thatcher winning landslide victories in 1983 and 1987! Why should it be so very different now?

  43. Interesting in the comments about election readiness of the Labour Party. I am a PPC in a key marginal. I have not been invited for photos with anyone (since the conference when I didn’t manage to get to any of the sessions). No-one is talking to me about elections – last October I was asked to start diarising ministerial visits.

    Election 2008 – absolutely no chance

    Early 2009 – please no too cold and dark

    Spring 2009 – possible perhaps April or May

    June 2009 – three elections in one day would be too much and is unlikely

    July 2009 – too risky if local elections are not good

    Autumn 2009 – possible

    Winter 2009/10 – brrrr

    Spring 2010 – deadline time

  44. “Why all this talk of an election now? We are entering a recession – what’s the point of the parties all spending exorbidants amount of money when there are people struggling with their food and fuel and heating bills?

    This country has gone to the dogs….”

    Your post made me think Chris!

    You make a very good point & pose a very awkward question for politicians about their true motivations right now.

  45. Lots of very interesting posts on this thread with some very valid points!

    I think a very valid point was raised re a possible GE before the June 09 EU poll. Brown can either think the EU vote will be a problem for the Tories (which it may well be) and go for June or he could consider he wants a GE out of the way first. If that’s the case then an April GE would definitely be the best time for Labour IMO. They would have the benefit of more tax reductions coming into play at the beginning if April, interest rates will be at an historic low and inflation is likely to be within the BOE guidelines at around 2%. Rising unemployment will not work against Labour just as it didn’t against Thatcher’s Government.

    A strong opposition is always good for any country and I can’t help thinking that the Tories have made a very serious mistake by reverting back to their old economic policies of the ’80’s and ’90’s which is what Cameron has done. The policies of strong sterling ( not at all what the country needs to get us out of recession), fiscal restraint and attacks on Labours tax plans at this time are exactly the type of policies that Cameron was espousing when he used to stand next to Lamont nodding in agreement during Majors term in office, policies which Cameron has been saying for the past year or so are not part of the new Tory way of thinking. They are flawed policies and irrespective of how flawed Browns policies may be, my point is very simply that the majority (not all, but the majority) of the UK electorate who bother to vote are going to associate the latest Tory economic policy with that which they consider failed them previously. I can only assume that Cameron was under some pressure from the Right of the party to make these changes but it is a mistake at the worst possible time as future polls will show and has played straight into the hands of Brown who IMO, will now undoubtedly call a GE within 6 months.

    The next GE was the Tories to lose, for some crazy reason they may well have just brought it forward and lost it.

  46. Having a Prime Minister who is too frightened to take risks and is indecisive makes it quite obvious that there will be no GE in 2009 – absolutely not.

    You’ve got to remember that Brown waited a long time for his unelected role – he ain’t gonna give it up yet – we are going to see a lot more ridiculous policies coming out before he goes though – which is what we see daily on the news (to pass as many draconian laws as possible & give the impression to the camera that things are under control) – as I predicted months ago.

    Forget about the economy – whoever wins the next election apart from Labour – the new leader will have to spend a lot of time dismantling a lot of crazy “1984” policies & red tape first – bring some sanity back – then the economy can be tackled. – lol.

    Does anyone like me – really see the light at the end of the tunnel ? I can see it, it’s still 18 months away but that light is getting brighter everyday.

    The POLLS are currently a bit of fun – the public have no stomach for an election at the moment, they are all trying to survive like myself and millions and others – waiting for the reckoning day.

  47. Whether Brown calls an election in May 2009 depends on what the polls are saying nearer to that time.

    I don’t think anyone was predicting that Labour would be doing so relatively well in the polls in the first half of November. And indeed, this could easily be a plip.

    The electorate have been given a lot to digest recently regarding the economy and Brown’s intention to boost it through tax cuts and increased public spending.

    If unemployment does rise to 3 million by May 2010 and Brown sets the election for this time then Labour are doomed, and more importantly so is the prospect of economical growth for at least a few years.

    Unlike Blair with Iraq I hope Brown knows what he is doing, and that it is based on real intelligence!

  48. Does anyone else reckon the current unprecedented publicity being given to the BNP might give a dent to Labour in the next poll or two?

    I must admit I was shocked to discover that certain proffessions view membership of a legal and (whatever ones views) perfectly legitamate political party to be grounds for dismissal!

    I suspect a good 4-5% of the Labour vote might be sympathitic to the BNPs mix of traditional socialism and, these days, rather mild xenophobia.

    My guess, next poll says; Con41, Lab34, Libs14…

  49. Peter Riddell in The Times today says forget an early election because :-

    Voters would say “who landed us in this mess”-“rather than Trust Gordon”
    &
    David Cameron is ahead in the Polls when voters are asked who is the best leader after an election.

    When you read the stories in todays papers about the escalation of public borrowing & debt interest-and contemplate how these burdens from a shattered public finances are going to look AFTER the recession, one wonders what sort of platform Brown could put to the electorate which would be convincing.

  50. As many of the poll result to seat number calculators are based on election results that were in part effected by tactical voting the Tories might not need to be as ahead as suggested.

    I wonder if constituency polling matches the models used in these calculators.

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