Book it in your diary – the next General Election will be on June 11 2009
If the next General Election is held in four years time then it will be the first time that the vote to determine the next House of Commons will coincide with the cycle of five-yearly Euro elections.
If Prime Minister Brown/Straw/Hain/Clark/follows the pattern of his/her predecessor then the next General Election looks like being held on June 11 2009 – the Euro date that has already been fixed. For Tony Blair has always shown himself to be keen to have two or even three different elections on the same day as we saw on June 10th last year.
Given the precedent has been set a new Prime Minister could appear profligate to be seen to be staging two national elections within a short time of each other. It would also be the low risk strategy.
For Labour’s performance at the last two Euro elections has been abysmal and only last June the party managed to poll a mere 22.6% on the GB vote. To hold the General Election on the same day would at least deal with that embarassment.
Played carefully, as well, the juxtaposition could have the potential to harm the Tories and the Lib Dems who were pushed into fourth place behind UKIP last year. Given UKIP’s strong appeal in a Euro election year it could be that joint elections could give them a boost at the expense of the Tories.
The whole political strategy for the EU depends on the planned EU constitution referendum next year and Blair/Brown must be hoping that the French vote on the issue later this month gets them off the hook. For a “Non” would make it easier to sidestep or even abandon the UK referendum plan which was only introduced to take the wind out of Michael Howard’s sails before last June’s vote.
A yes vote in France would almost certainly mean that the UK would have its referendum and this is already being seen as the point of Tony Blair’s departure.
Current betting on the French vote is strongly in favour of a yes. But there are still two and a half weeks to go.