Will this put the election retreat back on the agenda?
The main lead in the Guardian this morning confirms how serious Labour was about going to the country in late October or early November and could provide further ammunition for the Tories as they seek to attack Brown.
For according to the paper “nearly a million pounds” was spent in the run-up compared with just Â£200,000 by the Tories.
The report notes that three million letters had been printed and were binned; “hundreds of thousands of pounds” had been spent polling in marginal seats; poster sites had been pre-booked and paid for and many staff had been hired.
In one instance a lorry load of office equipment had to be turned back on the Monday after Brown’s Saturday decision.
A report from Labour’s general secretary is going to the party’s national executive today. One problem for Labour is that it is still Â£20m in debt and this additional expenditure will add to the overall financial problems.
Interestingly the Tories also had to pre-book billboard advertising and the current EU referendum campaign was apparently devised to use the spaces that had been paid for.
In many ways this report is not really surprising. It simply underlines that an election was being considered very seriously and clearly those charged with running the campaign had to plan and that involved spending money.
A challenge for Brown is that it could call into question some of the statements he was making in the immediate aftermath of the “no election” announcement. In particular what he said at the press conference on the Monday afterwards will be subject to a lot of scrutiny.
No doubt that this will be raised at PMQs on Wednesday.
In my betting I am retaining my position as a seller of Labour seats on the spread markets. My exposure is not on the scale of earlier in the month when I had a Â£100 a seat commitment – so if there was a drop of 10 seats in the Labour spread I made Â£1000 but stood to lose the same if it went in the other direction. There hasn’t been much movement over the past week and a half but a clutch of end month polls are due in the next ten days.