Friday, February 26, 2010

Is Brown Marching His Troops Up the Hill (Again)?

The question a lot of people are asking ourselves is this: Can it get any better for Gordon Brown than this? The polls show a narrowing Tory lead. Economic figures confirm Britain it out of recession. Bullygate seems to have had no impact on the polls.

Ladbroke's have suspended betting on a March 25th election. According to Guido, BBC political staff have been ordered to cancel leave this weekend. Holding a 25th March election means a budget would not have to be held. It would avoid the danger of GDP figures showing Britain has slid back into recession (which come out at the end of April) and also the new tax rises would not yet have kicked in.

But, would Gordon Brown really call an election on the weekend Cameron is making a big speech at the Tory Spring Conference in Brighton? Can the Labour Party really afford to fight two elections within six weeks? Isn't he worried that the polls in marginal seats still indicate a good Tory victory?

The danger for Brown in the next 48 hours is that he allows a repeat of the Election That Never Was to happen. Where speculation gets out of control, he marches his troops to the top of the hill, only then to march them down again.

If he allows that to happen he really will have lost the plot.


sagenz said...

"If he allows that to happen he really will have lost the plot."

So you are suggesting that he will scotch the rumour in time for Monday's papers but allow the Sunday's plenty of time to speculate? :^)

Oberon Houston said...

Yesterday was ther last day Brown could have called a March election I think, hence the reason Ladbrokes have stopped taking bets?

Anonymous said...

I think that's unlikely considering he's giving evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on the 4th March. It would be a pretty poor way to either start a 4 week campaign (or mark the end of the first week's campaign if he goes for 5 weeks).

javelin said...

I think Brown is worried about a double dip recession. That is what is driving his decision.

Strangely the big bad news story is Greece and they issue new bonds next week but must be clear about fiscal policy or the rating agencies will down grade them. However there is not much chance of contagion to the Uk if this happens.

In fact I can't see many bad events happening until the Q1 GDP figures come out in April/May.

In the longer term I expect GDP to fall in Q2 as business investment crashed by 5% in Q4 last year. I think Brown is purely driven by GDP figures.

I also see that the Japanese savings rates have fallen below those of the US. This is shown a long term strategic weakness in the world second largest economy. Very worrying.

Weygand said...

But what if Jeff Randall is right that Darling's confirmation of briefings against him was deliberate - taking advantage of this brief moment when he is unsackable (before he certainly goes after the election, whoever wins)?

And if Darling has also said I'm Chancellor, I'll decide what goes in the budget not you Gordon.

The only way for Brown to avoid this would be to call an election now.

And as has been suggested, this would avoid his appearance at the Iraq enquiry and possibly the TV debates.

To a control freak coward, an immediate election would be very attractive.

Barnacle Bill said...

Expect Broon to be off for tea with HM this afternoon.
As for the cost of fighting two elections, if he wins the first he'll find a way for us the taxpayer to fund the second; if he looses will he be bothered?

Jabba the Cat said...

Ah yes, the ongoing fantasy about coming out of recession. Just wait till the spending cuts come in after the election and then decide if the recession is over.

Jason Brown said...

While making an announcement about the election date this weekend would undoubtable steal David Cameron's thunder re his Spring Forum speech, he does not need to announce it this weekend to hold it on March 25th.

Indeed the biggest problem with doing it this weekend is that it would mean Brown would have to give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry in the middle of the official campaign.

There is a rather good timeline of how things may pan out if Team Brown want the poll on the 25th by Tory Politico here

simon said...

Didn't you do this story last Friday?

Anonymous said...

If an early election could save labours bacon, then the locals 6 weeks later would be irrelevant.
The converse is not true, labour could not afford to do do badly in the locals just before a general election and could not afford to spend to avoid that.

This is why labour cannot really wait until June.
But going early offers no such downside (except losing of course)

Brown would be daft not to hold a March 25 election.
The problem for Brown is the latest poll is from MORI who do not politically weight its samples and also only include in their headline figures those who are 100% certain to vote. Thus it is hugely vulnerable to sample variation.

BTW - over at they are pointing out the YouGov unweighted figures are 43 28 15 ....
GO figure. Clearly you would hope a poll sample was representative of the electorate as a whole, but can it turn 43 to 37?
Can a desperate govt really rely on these statistically manipulated polls.
Does a drowning man grasp at straws?

Food for thought.

David Boothroyd said...

If the election were to be on new year's day, then the dissolution of Parliament would have to be on Monday. That would mean losing all outstanding Bills in this session.

There has been no indication from the Prime Minister that he is thinking along these lines; it seems to be pure press ramping. So I do hope that when no election is called, there is no lie put about that an expected election announcement has been cancelled.

Stepney said...

Brown (or Mrs Rochester as he will now be forever known), knows that this is the best situation he'll have. The Tories are hoping to pick up the 3% they need by a massive campaign spend.

The flood of Tory money behind the dam is pushing very hard and is being kept back for the campaign. If Brown goes for broke (pun intended), and seizes the day for a lightning campaign I rather suspect he's hoping the Tories won't have time to deploy successfully.

He'll need to go now or have to watch his current advantage wither.

Whatever happens just fall to your knees and thank God that this lunatic wasn't in charge of D-Day. We'd all be snacking on Bratwurst and smug about our World Cup chances if he had been.

Paul said...

And when they were up, they were up.
And when they were down, they were down.
And when they were only halfway up,
They were led by Gordon Brown.

Iain Dale said...

New Year's Day?!

strapworld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
javelin said...

If Brown is angry at himself - why shouldn't we be angry with him too.

Anonymous said...

Hah. A March 25th election would do wonders for the sales of Nigel Farage's book, so I rather expect it would make his publishers (whoever they may be!) quite happy. It wouldn't harm his electoral chances contra Bercow, either.

Sally Roberts said...

No...He's going to do it this time - and about time. Let's get on with it!

Cogito Dexter said...

Don't forget Chilcot in all this. As I understand it, Chilcot said he would suspend the enquiry the moment a general election was called, in which case calling it now saves the PM from a potentially very difficult couple of days where the news cycle will be very much focusing on him and his (appalling) record in financing the military...

In terms of pragmatic decision making, now is probably the least risky time he can get away with.

Of course it could all just be wishful thinking: desperate as we all are to see the back of this vile smear-addicted mendacious government...

girlie_boi said...

Yeah Iain New Year's Day! March 25th was the 'old' New Year until the mid 18th century!

miko said...

Where is Brown today?

Out and about putting a curse on various businesses or is he in The Bunker?

This will be the clue to announcing his General Ejection date.

Oh to be a fly on the wall (out of punching distance) in Brown's bunker right now!

Magical_Mist said...

Would it be very rude of Brown to hold a press conference during Cameron's big speech?

Unknown said...

Does a person with a proven record of being an emotionally stunted, dithering, bullying coward, take the self-confident, decisive and brave choice?

No. He'll cling on the the very last, probably channeling Captain Ahab as he goes...

Nigel said...

>>New Year's Day?!<<

Tax Year ?

Chinese New Year ?

Dawn of Year Zero, as mandated by the great leader ?

Shinsei said...

Doesn't going before the Budget smack of cowardice and having something to hide ?

Similarly before the Chilcot Inquiry ?

David Boothroyd said...

The 25th March is the historic New Year's Day in England, being one of the four quarter days (Lady Day, as it happens). Scotland always had 1 January as Hogmanay.

The Calendar Act 1751 moved New Year's Day back to 1 January, but this is the origin of the tax year beginning on 6 April: the tax year used to begin on 25 March but when the 11 days were dropped in September 1752 they were added on to the 1752-3 tax year so that it was back to 365 days.

I make a point of celebrating the traditional new year.

Iain Dale said...

Very informative, David. Thank you.

p smith said...

There is no way that Brown is going to call a March or April election. Brown has finally established some momentum and he will want to let that play out to maximum advantage.

After a 4 year free pass granted by the media to Cast Iron Dave, they are clearly bored of the narrative that he should walk into power and they are now questioning his every move and testing his policies. This has led to one slip after another as the thin veneer has worn off the Conservatives showing a predictable vacuity at the heart of their plan (sic) for government. The media also like a good political story and with the polls tightening they have finally got one.

Add to that the improving economic outlook, Brown will want to give that maximum time to feed through to the public's consciousness. "It's the economy stupid" remains as relevant an electoral guide as 'ere it was.

There is also the prospect that with the polls closing, the Tories will start to bottle it and we will hear of more divisions from the One Nation and Eurosceptic wings of the party who to this day despise each other. It may also prompt some foolish strategy on the part of Coulson. Then again it may not but Brown would be unwise not to see how the Tories deal with some real pressure.

The budget won't be damaging. Everyone knows that the deficit is enormous and while it exposes the government to scrutiny of their plans to reduce the deficit, equally it shines a spotlight on the Tories' plans. As we all know, neither party has a f*cking clue what they are going to do and they are certainly not going to give any real details of the sensitive public spending cuts that they have lined up. Brown's gambit is that the public may plump for the devil they know and that as time passes, people are starting to see a shallow, insincere and vain side to Cameron that they don't like.

It's May 6, chaps. You can stick a fork in it.

Eddie 180 said...

If Brown calls the election before next Friday, his evidence to Chilcott will be postponed, as stated in Chilcotts letter to Brown...

"If, of course, in the meantime a General Election is called , we will need to postpone the hearing, as we have always made clear.

Not a sheep said...

Any sensible person would choose an early (pre May) election as it would preclude the need for a budget, appearing before the Chilcot Inquiry and the risk of more bad economic news. However the key word is "sensible".

Robert said...

It doesn't matter which date the election is on I will not be voting for the suppositories

Anonymous said...

17 working days notice is required, so he could call an election for March 25th on Tuesday next week.

Anonymous said...

I think Brown is Guilty of being too political at a time of National Crisis.

Alistair Darling was clearly asked on Sky News this morning if he would be delivering a budget in a months time. Darling refused to give a straight reply. This is what is wrong with Labour, they give away their partisanship by making such crass comments that put party interests above National interest.

Labour should either call an election or rule it out. Simple. The speculation that Brown is allowing to build up a head of steam is further damaging the economy, Labour do not care about the long term interests of the country but are soley forcosted on what is best for them in an election.

Gordon Brown is a Very Bad PM and the PLP are a bunch of mostly second rate social workers and lecturers who would not realise the mess Labour has created even if it had 6 inch teeth that ripped a bite out of their rear end!!!!

The Irony of Brown doing his grand old duke of york again is that when his troops are going up the hill, the moment Brown bottles it the troops will bayonet themselves!!! lol

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I am not the only one who thinks Brown will hang on to the bitter end. The reasons for this is that Brown's cowardice is his predominant emotional driver and cowards will not face the truth until that option has been taken out of their hands.

Look at Ceaucescu, Karadic,Saddam Hussein, Hitler, etc.

I am still taking bets on Thursday 3rd June.

At this very moment,
Gordon Brown is crouched in a fetal position, beset with indecision, screaming at advisors and consigning Nokias to Third World re-cycling schemes and blubbing like the nitwit from Wittenburg, "To be or not to be, that is the question".

Gareth said...

Ladbroke's have suspended betting on a March 25th election. According to Guido, BBC political staff have been ordered to cancel leave this weekend. Holding a 25th March election means a budget would not have to be held. It would avoid the danger of GDP figures showing Britain has slid back into recession (which come out at the end of April) and also the new tax rises would not yet have kicked in.

It would also be before the finalised Q4 figures are released by the ONS at the end of March.

The initial 0.1% growth was based on less than 50% of the data the ONS collect. 0.3% growth based on 70-something% of it. There is still scope for the figure to change.

Unknown said...

What better way to disrupt the Tories this weekend than to call an election?

Brown's allowing speculation to rise again - could he dither for a second time on this issue?

Surely even Brown isn't that stupid.

I'm sick of all of it - call the election, Brown, you miserable smear of excrement.

Jimmy said...

"According to Guido, "

May it is then

Nayan said...

Labour can't afford to fight more than one election this year. By avoiding calling it Brown can use public money to shore up support with the electorate saving party money while forcing the Tories and Lib Dems to spend more from their own coffers by lengthening the campaign.

Honestly Labour need to delay calling an election as long as possible. As soon as they officially call an election the Tories will shape up and the activists will start pounding pavement and shoring up support. Labour can't mobilise the same numbers. It would serve DC well to officially announce he is starting his election campaign whether the government do or don't, Tory activists need something to focus on and work towards. Right now no one knows anything and they are just languishing rather than preparing.

Anonymous said...

If Brown calls an election say tomorrow then the tories have a good opportunity to launch their campaign with their conference.

The conference is effectively the launch of the pre election period anyway.

How much faith does Brown have in the 1 Q figures? Will he be tempted to play it longer? will he suffer Darling budget? The budget forces the govt to disclose yet again the departmental cuts that are round the corner.

He really should call the election now.

"But with unweighted YouGov polling data at 43 28 17, and with that being a statistic that could blow a man's head clean off, I have to say 'do you feel lucky punk? Well do ya?"

Andrew said...

David Boothroyd

I bow to your extensive knowledge of ancient calendars, but I have never heard of January 1st being Hogmanay in Scotland.

At present, if not always, Hogmanay is 31st December.

The Grim Reaper said...

If Gordon got his way, there would never be another general election. He probably wants to put his brother in charge after he dies - the man's stupid enough.

DespairingLiberal said...

Yes and if there isn't speculating, Tory bloggers and the Tory press will be happy to provide it!

Seriously, it has to be pretty soon anyway, so beyond the Westminster bubble, what on earth does it matter if it's in March or May?

DespairingLiberal said...

Also just the usual reminder that Labour nearly always favour May/June when the warmer weather and longer evenings mean it is more likely that working people will vote.

Clearly the message has gone out from CCHQ to the troops to say that Brown is having an early election in the hope of repeating the vacillation charge. I think it's clear that Brown will go as late as possible and nothing has happened/will happen to change that.

fakerob said...

Any rational person chosing an election date would consciously chose to avoid bad news. Mandelson is a very rational person.

1) The Budget is going to bad for someone and will cost votes.
2) An Chilcot enquiry appearance is high risk and could cause adverse publicity.
3) NI goes up in April. This will cost Labour votes.

If you can avoid those risks of dropping votes then rationally you will.
The Labour party can make a mini budget statement - promising all things to all people - the markets won't jitter too much because it is unlikely they will become law.

Also it is the tory spring forum this weekend. An election announcement would obliterate any headlines the tories may have had and catch a lot of their activists out.

amanfromMars said...

"But, would Gordon Brown really call an election on the weekend Cameron is making a big speech at the Tory Spring Conference in Brighton?" .... Only if forced to, I suppose, for he is Known to be Fond of a Bit of Ditherer

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DespairingLiberal said...

Still waiting for Iain's "March election today" announcement.....