Monday, March 20, 2006

An autumn election?

In today's The Times William Rees-Mogg makes a case for an autumn election.[Source]

Commenting on the widely held view that Tony Blair sold peerages for cash - and also the projected losses for Labour in the upcoming local elections - he wonders whether the Prime Minister might simply resign and so pave the way for the Gordon Brown succession. If this happens, the question then for Mr Brown is when to hold an election:

Mr Brown would then have to decide whether to establish his own mandate by holding an early election. There would be a strong case for him to do so. Like all parties that have been in office for a long time, Labour’s underlying support is falling; even at the past election their vote fell by 1.2 million. By 2010, the last year for the next general election, they are likely to have become even more unpopular. The last year in which Labour could win an overall majority could well be 2006.

Mr Rees-Mogg also points out another consideration for Labour to bear in mind, namely, that the current, favourable (to Labour) boundary conditions are set to change early in 2007:

At present, Labour has a majority of 64, which means it holds 32 more seats than the other parties combined. On the present timetable about half that majority will be removed by redistribution of the constituencies. That, however, will probably not take place until January 1, 2007. Any election held in 2006 would be fought on the existing boundaries.

For all sorts of reasons an autumn election - with all three parties led by new leaders and none of them in the post long enough to have created a solid set of policies to offer the public - could be simultaneously exciting and quite unpleasant. With Labour leading the polls - just - but facing widespread disillusion in the electorate I predict panic all round. Prepare for wholesale flip-flopping and lots of Punch and Judy.

Interesting possible situation.

Is it just me or can you imagine a nervous Gordon Brown biting his fingernails down to the stumps as he watches this loans for lordships mess unfold?

He's patiently waited for his opportunity to step up, having been gently shafted back in that Islington restauraunt so many years ago.

He's a cooler customer than me if the possiblity of it all slipping away hasn't crossed his mind.

I think this could definitely feed into your scenario Gary.
Gary - don't you think that it's scare that candidate selection is suspended? I heard on the blogosphere that nearly 400 seats don't have prospective candidates yet. Is that true? If so, Cameron would be strategically screwed! And the Lib Dems are always no-hopers, even with Ming The Merciless. With the boundary changes not taking effect for a while longer, Brown still in his honeymoon period coupled with him wanting his own mandate, it makes perfect sense to go to the people early.

I never thought I would say this, but let's hope Tony's Teflon suit holds together for another year. I don't think I could face another 5 years of the reds!
Interesting but I think not for one pragmatic reason: Labour doesn't have the money to fight an election with.
Thersites - they would if they were funded by the taxpayer. Labour could bring in legislation in a short period of time - they've done it before... there just needs to be the political will. If the Tories opposed it, they would be labelled pro-slease. If they support it, they could be royally shafted!

p.s Gary - the slowing of posts anything to do with the coming elections?
Chris, I reckon timing is everything for Gordon Brown; he's not popular so needs time to work his magic (ha ha!) on the elctorate. But, then again, the longer he leaves it before calling for an election the more he will have to sow that which he has reaped. Reminds me of Callaghan in 1978. He left the decision too late and had to go to the country right after the winter of discontent.

Blair's comments today suggest he's going to stay the full course - which changes the speculation a bit. It means the Conservatives' lack of parliamentary candidates isn't the problem that AJD rightly suggested it could be.

There's a market argument against state funding for political parties. What gives a party the right to exist? Nothing. So why should they feel entitled to removing the pounds from people's pockets to ensure their own existence? If they're worthy, people will donate. If they're not, people won't. I give money to the Conservatives because I believe in them. My neighbour thinks they're all shysters - Labour and the Lib Dems included. We both should be allowed to act on our preferences; neither of us should be forced to keep parties we dislike in business.

AJD, yes - am canvasing 7 days a week from today, have been attending various meetings and generally not knowing whether I am coming or going. Also moving home which, as you already know, eats into one's time!

Thanks all...
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