Monday, 6 April 2009

No election this year?

When I was writing my 2009 predictions (I'm not doing too well so far - though I did call 3 changes on the Scottish Government benches, as well as a struggle to pass the budget) I bit the bullet and plumped for an election this year. I thought - correctly, as it has turned out - that Gordon Brown's handling of the economy would shrink Tory poll leads and that he'd go for an election in June as a result of Labour's less than disastrous showing in English Council Elections in May.

Now we are only in April, but the PM has apparently ruled out calling a snap election, saying:
"I am not going to get into talk about dates."

"Our first priority is jobs, it's homes and it's businesses. We have got to show people how we can take the country through this difficulty."

"I think if you were a citizen of Britain looking at what's happening in the economy you would want our first priority to be exactly what it is."

That, according to The Scotsman, equates with the following headline

"Brown rejects snap election despite Labour's G20 'bounce'"

Hang on a minute though. Is there anything in what he says that explicitly rules out an election? Because I can't see it. He said he's not going to talk about dates. Which means not that he is not considering an election, merely that he is not going public with these considerations at the moment.

And why would he? Labour's position in Westminster polls has improved markedly over the last few months. And the latest YouGov (post G20) poll has them within 7 points of the Tories:

CON 41%

LAB 34%

LD 16%

A far cry from the days of 20-point Tory leads. Now instead of facing down the barrel of a huge defeat, we are probably looking at the prospect of a hung-parliament while if Labour can claw back another couple of points they might even manage to scrape into government for a fourth term.

Far better for Brown to be in with a fighting chance of forming a government after the election than have a small band of MPs to oppose a massive Tory government.

I'm keeping my neck on the line and going with a 2009 election. I think he may go with it on the same day as the European election - though if the polls continue to swing Labour's way, he may hold out until September.

Anyone agree?


Sam 6 April 2009 at 13:22  

I would agree but for two points. Firstly, a polling bounce does not equate to a change in underlying attitudes. People will soon see that G20 helped only the poor nations, and that the industrialized economies still lackna coherent plan to deal with the toxic assets that are what make banks afraid to loan. Until those can be valued banks simply don't kbow their own capital value. And we won't feel safe until we can borrow cheap money and feel secure in our jobs.

The other point is that Brown already screwed up one snap election call. Once burned twice shy and all that. I don't think he'll be brave enough to try it again without a healthy lead (which I think he's unlikely ever to see)

Malc 6 April 2009 at 17:26  

But Sam, isn't that my point?

ie - that people will see through the G20 stuff therefore he better go to the country quickly in order to benefit from it?

And on your second point - again, that's kinda my point too. He screwed up the last time by NOT calling the election. If doesn't call one again - surely that's "twice shy" and not if he does call one?

On the other thing - you are right. There's no way Labour get a lead in the polls, never mind a healthy one. So go when you are as close to the Tories as you can be (7 points is as close as its been for a while) and the messed up electoral system will see to it that Labour might still be in with a shout of winning.

Is there a flaw in that logic?

Anonymous,  6 April 2009 at 18:01  

Malc, now you have mentioned it, when are your seat by seat assessments for Westminster starting again? Last one you did was Coatbridge if I haven't missed any since, and that was ages ago!

Malc 6 April 2009 at 18:24  


Thanks for that. I got a bit bored by it, assuming readers did too.

If you are exceptionally interested, I may well start again...

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