Is this Day One of the election campaign?

Is this Day One of the election campaign?

tory tax front pages.JPG

    But is Brown waiting for the polls?

Who would have thought that the first battle of the 2007 election campaign, if indeed that is what we are seeing, would be about the tax treatment of so called “non-doms” – people who work and live here but are not “domiciled”?

The speed and ferocity of the Labour rebuttal machine as it sought to undermine the calculations behind the Tory plan to fund the inheritance tax proposal are a taste of what is to come – whether now or within the next two and a half years.

On the personalities I’m not so sure that the Chancellor, Alastair Darling, is the right person for this sort of close encounter campaigning. Labour needs a street fighter who can get over point effectively on issues like this – someone like the retiring John Reid or even Jack Straw would be ideal. Almost alone on the site, it seems, I’ve long been a fan of George Osborne and I thought that he was good yesterday.

Overall the Tories must be pretty pleased with the media reaction to the second day of their conference. Whatever the economics of the tax plan the simple notion of what they were trying to achieve is easily understandable and has been covered big on the bulletins and in the papers. The front pages reproduced above give a sense of how this is going down.

    The big question is whether this will affect the party poll ratings. Is there going to be a move back to the Tories? What level of Labour lead is Brown looking for to feel comfortable about gambling his premiership on a November election?

Certainly we should expect some decrease in Labour’s lead – that’s almost inevitable when one party manages to dominate the headlines during its conference week. The critical question is by how much?

In my betting I have now closed down the “sell” position on the “Gordon weeks” spread market. I always like taking profits and do not have a firm view either way on whether an election will be called. This one is very hard to call. The overnight Betfair price was 4-5 on a 2007 general election.

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Mike Smithson

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