Why is Labour’s “Spring” conference taking place in early February?
When it comes to acts of deception over the timing of elections Tony Blair’s government has got form.
Just six months ago Downing Street was briefing heavily that the date of the Harlepool by-election was going to be on Thursday October 7th. This was reported in the press and was widely believed. But when the announcement came in there was a huge surprise – instead of the October 7th date the election was actually called for September 30th.
This was seen as a move to wrong-foot the opposition? Could Labour be doing the same over May 5th?
Certainly the build up to Labour’s Gateshead conference yesterday looks like the start of a General Election campaign. The pledge cards and the whistle stop tour to announce things in six separate locations have all the trappings of the campaign proper. And it it not odd that what is described as a “Spring Conference” is taking place in early February rather than its normal timing of mid-March?
Until the Royal wedding annoucement the big argument against Blair going to the country with fifteen months left to run was that he could be portrayed as “cutting and running”. But now what better reason could he have for going in March than not wanting to interefere the marriage of Charles and Camilla.
The timing of that annoucement only 24 hours before Blair’s whirl-wind tour looked very convenient.
One thing against the March General Election theory is that the betting price has stayed very firmly with May 5th. If someone was “in the know” then it’s possible that this could filter out and prices would move. As of the time of posting this has not happened.
Currently the Betfair betting exchange “election taking place by the end of March” price is 11/1.
Â© Mike Smithson 2005