I have to be honest at being a little mystified by Gordon Brown's statesment about the Queen's Speech. It was dressed up as being a grand gesture at allowing more scrutiny of planned government legislation, and for all I know it was genuinely that. But something has been gnawing away at me over the last hour and it's finally dawned on me what the true agenda might have been.
If you were a Prime Minister considering an autumn election, you'd want the country to know what you planned in your next session of parliament, but the election would probably take place before a planned Queen's Speech. So what do you do? You pull out the three or four juiciest bits to tantalise the electorate with and announce them a few months in advance, in an attempt to wrongfoot the opposition. You then call an election just before your opponents have finished their policy review and finalised their own policy positions. Sounds clever, doesn't it?
In fact it sounds far too clever to have any likelihood of being true at all. But just in case...
It would be nice to have a general election, if there was something worthy of voting for! Any candidate or party that promises to clean up and clean out England would get my vote. But then again they, he, she or it would be lying, would they not. We have had in excess of a decade of that and look where is has brought us!
Brown will lose a snap election and he knows it.
Just in case? Come on.
Taking advantage of the bounce before the conservative policies are announced would make sense. It is likely that if Brown leaves it any longer he will lose.
Roger Helmer MEP sums up my thoughts nicely... The media are awash with talk of an early General Election, perhaps Spring 2008, or even October 2007 (so much for the Party Conference!).
But there is an angle here for the EU Treaty. If the Election is held before the Treaty is ratified, the people will have a clear choice: vote Conservative, get a referendum. Or vote Labour, and go without. I reckon that’s worth 5 points in the voting.
It might be an important factor.
Reading my mind, you cynical old political observer, you.
And Brown will win a snap election if he holds it soon enough. There is a large following for the Oh Give 'Im A Chance Tendency and all he has to do to win it is nothing very much, beyond Looking Serious And Not-Blair-ish.
I hope you are right about an early election. NuLab are devoid of any ideas, simply not being Bliar is not enough
Tony, above, has got it in one - it just aint going to happen, this year anyway
I don't think Brown understands the size of the resentment building over the lack of a referendum on the EU Treaty. He will have to do a U-turn or he will be in for a shock should he decide on an early election.
Brown's obviously going to go at the end of September, the result, not much different to the last one, the Tories will get back some of the Southern marginals they failed to get last time, Labour will get back some, now that TB has gone and Iraq isn't so hot an issue. Sorry I can't be much more exiting: thats it folks.
As you say, just in case. He still doesn't have the money to run a campaign, though...
Possible, but there's also a more plausible explanation. Brown always faced the problem of taking over shortly before the dead time of the summer recess, during which period any 'bounce' or sense of positive momentum could be lost. So I'm sure this was a move planned well in advance, designed to keep a sense of momentum and activity through the recess. 'First 100 days' and all that.
Peter Hain said we did not need a referendum and should use the local elkections as a referendum on Europe - Labour got trounced - wasn't that 2006 ?
Well maybe we should have an Election on the EU with Labour saying NO to a Referendum and see if the GMB Union will fund that
I have never taken this idea seriously until now - because of all the foaming at the mouth stuff about Europe.
Nothing would better serve's GB's desire to say that Cameron is all PR and that the Tories have never changed than to have you lot bang on and on and on about Europe.
Yes, like you, the British people are not very clean on foreigners. But, unlike you, they are also realists and their loon-at-large detector goes off as soon as they here you lot ranting.
Go for it, Gordon.
Nah. He just wants to keep up the momentum.
It would make sense for him to capitalise on his bounce but he doesn't have the flair for it.
I suspect he will go for a snap electin in the autumn. He is betting on that he will get at least a majoriy so that he can point to it for legitimacy.
Are people really more concerned about an EU referendum than they are about Iraq? US withdrawal seems imminent, March 2008 max. Brown may want to appear to pre-empt this in order to rid himself the poodle stigma. Then the election.
Nobody I know really cares much about the EU.
The Conservative's policies are ready to go. Obviously Cameron has to hold his fire until a) the Queen's speech, or b) a general election.
There's no way the Conservative's would let themselves be wrong footed by an early election. That's why the policy reviews were given such a long lead time - 6 months to do the work and 12 months to wait for the right opportunity.
Now I think you are stretching plausibility even further than I - and I am meant to!
There is an underlying question here, however. Is this our new First Lord being pragmatic, as he is known to be, and genuinely trying to open out political debate, or is this some clever spin? We have gotten so used to spin over the last 30 years or so, it is difficult to imaging that this might actually be an honest attempt at open government.
But you never know ....
A more likely explanation is to help manage expectations and debate at the Labour Party and TUC conferences, both being held before the Queen's Speech.
Iain, if the Tories get close to Labour, say within a percentage point, or even get more of the popular vote, will you then admit that FPTP doesn't work and is undemocratic? Will 5 more years of Brown on fewer votes than Cameron gets (but with, say a majority of 20) be a price worth paying for the chance to win "big" at some point in the future?
This is a point which the Tories are going to have to focus on one day, and maybe sooner than you think, and I'd be genuinely interested to hear what you have to say.
Well having watched Willetts last night on TV , if he is typical of the Conservative Party then Labour will win again.
We've had Duncan (giggly) and Willets ( wishy washy) on late nite TV recently.. and all I can say is thet neither impressed me..and I want to be impressed.
Labour for a 20 seat majority.
You pull out the three or four juiciest bits to tantalise the electorate with and announce them a few months in advance
and how long does the electorate remember them - those who have bothered to listen, that is?
Brown is a creature of habit. Far more likely that he just can't get out of his longstanding custom of (a) repackaging and recycling previous announcements, as if they were new (something he's done countless times over the years), and (b) giving pre-Budget statements, which he's now repackaged as pre-Speech statements.
look at when the boundary commission changes come into effect and you'll have your answer!
Is a snap election an election where candidates fall over themselves to copy each other's policies.
I'm not that anon.
Did the 'queen' arrive to give 'his' queen's speech in a carriage pulled by rocking horses?
The old teaching maxim (also in Brave New World) of Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. Tell 'em & then Tell 'em what you've told 'em.
Unless you're denying that you ever said it.
If Brown goes for an early election he can be dismissed as a fraud because the Boundary Commiossion will not have finished its work by then and give the Conservatives 20 extra seats.
when do boundary changes go through?
I agree with Ken.If he thinks he can win,it is worth a punt to go now before the boundary changes are effective.No point crying foul.Don't think he has the "bottle",though.
With reference to housing. I am a tory that firmly believes that a massive rebuild of council housing is needed. Much along the great Conservative Drive in the 50's.
I wrote to Cameron and got a thank you but no thanks reply from his secretaries, secretaries PA!!!
Brown will not lose the election Cameron will.
madafish is right.
I saw that old etonian bore. Oliver whatsisname on newsnight. After being so impressed by Ian Duncan Smith and his team and to a lesser extent Cameron.
The report was almost lost by the man who is no conservative. He would be happier in an educational establishment certainly not as a front bench spokesman for the conservative party.
May I suggest Cameron should bring the ENGLISH argument to the fore. I am already tired of Britain and the British being used in almost every sentence by Brown and his merry cabinet.
Is there a crime in being called ENGLISH? is ENGLAND a banned word?
Mr Cameron would be advised to talk ENGLAND for the ENGLISH. Then he will win any election.
Can Labour afford to, though?
I thought they'd run out of money
Don't forget to factor in "Cash for Honours".
If there is a prosecution there is no way Brown would try and campaign while it was going on.
Of course, there won't be a prosecution. It's all been tucked out of the way by some very deeply embedded influential people.
Gordon seems also to have upset the people of Manchester too without really trying in his remark about Super Casinos. This is a change of policy that isn't playing well there. He's already lost the support of large parts of Midlands and most of the South of the country so to upset his northern heartlands doesn't bode well for the "clunking fist" if he were to go to the country and the opposition parties have not even started on the "west Lothian" question and the EU referendum in earnest yet
notice that we are getting fresh polls once and even twice a week now.
Brown will only head to the polls when he is strong enough to take advantage of it.
Jeebus, were none of you lot paying attention when it was announced as part of the overall constitutional reform package, that, in future, the main proposed legislative elements of an upcoming Queen's Speech would be announced to the House before the summer recess, to allow time for consultation before the actual Queens Speech in the autumn.
If I were him I'd want to start withdrawal from Iraq and pinch as many policies as possible from Cameron's policy review before calling an election. Might also be a good idea to provide the Scots Nats with lots of rope in the hope that they'll screw up and send some voters north of the border back to labour.
I'm putting a fiver on next Spring.
Unity, my dear. Obviously there was an 'official' reason for announcing the Queen's speech now. But have you noticed it also suits Iain's autumn election theory?
Becoming any clearer?
1. Autumn would be a poor time to have a GE, the planning would have to be done whilst lots of your professionals and volunteers are off on their August hols, then you'd lose money cancelling your conference venue (and piss off your few remaining volunteers who'd booked their guest houses, etc).
2. Whatever the Brown bounce, will it last thru till Sept/Oct? He could either lose, or win with a derisory majority that will make him lose face and influence.
3. If he loses, a lot of MPs will be very cross at losing their income, and will blame him.
4. Whilst Ronnie Cohen is no doubt busy as we speak boosting the Labour coffers, nevertheless the war chest is pretty empty.
I'd put my money on June 09, combining EU/GE election, and fighting on new boundaries.
In fact it sounds far too clever to have any likelihood of being true at all. But just in case...
What's clear is Iain at least had the sense to realise he was following a train of thought to nowhere and managed to get off at the next available station.
You, on the other hand, seem intent on riding all the way into the buffers, tinfoil hat flapping in the wind.
Brown obviously enjoyed his election with one candidate so much ( and remember it was his supporters that crushed all potential opposition - so don't let him fool anyone that he enjoys a debate).
So why not have a pseudo-general election - with only one agenda and manifesto also ?
Then comrade Brown can claim the people have spoken - and agreed with his wise advice. It'll be his new mandate.
Since anyone who is not a Labour party supporter will be excluded from effective participation - why should the tax payer pay for Labour party campaigning like this ?
Early election my backside! Labour still have a very handsome majority to work with! Why risk a smaller majority. The boundaries have changed, that will adversely affect Labour's ability to win seats with very few votes and I suspect that Brown's strategists are not likely to be taken in by a very small lead in opinion polls (that could have evaporated by October anyway). Knee jerk "I'll vote for Gordon" sentiment, shown in current opinion polls, doesn't mean people will actually do that if they actually had to vote and they start to think about the last ten years, rather than BBC hype and propaganda about gorgeous Gordon. That, added to the lack of funds and new policies, make an October poll very unlikely. If, by some chance, there is an early poll, I'd prefer to see Labour cling to power with a tiny majority of hung parliament and the Tories get the popular vote. We can then watch some shabby Lab/Lib coalition destroy itself for a couple of years as Gordon's "economic miracle" collapses around their ears, and the Tories are spared the crap landing on their administration. They then lose a no confidence vote after a couple of years and the Tories are returned to power with a big majority.
Don't see Broon buying that. Facing down crisis with a big majority is much easier for a PM, as they can still look authoritative and in control. Ask John Major!
There are no juicy bits...
.... which is where your theory falls to the ground.
The real giveaway is that Brown is already working on the draft Bills even though he says he is going out to consultation. From that we can conclude that he will ignore any consultation and that he expects to be in power in the Autumn. If he was going for an election he wouldn't be wasting energy on legislation.
Tony Blair would take a risk of an election, Gordon Brown does not have the guts, he waited years and years to get rid of Tony Blair. I think late 2008 is a better bet. It depends on the Polls. If Labour can keep a two or three point lead due to our system they will have a majority of around 30. Then the dream of 1997 of a Labour and Lib Dem pact could come around.
"it sounds far too clever to have any likelihood of being true at all"
Surely this is preferable to something that sounds far too dumb to have any likelihood of being true at all?
1-2-3-4, I know what this blog is for;
5-6-7-8, you have trouble lying straight
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