Could this be the main argument for 2009?
If you look at the betting markets or read the pundits then the strong view is that with the huge polling set-backs of recent weeks Brown is not going to call a general election in the foreseeable future. A 2009 election is off the agenda.
He’ll want to, the argument goes, give himself the maximum time for the economic crisis to sort itself out and in any case his October 2007 U-turn, when he had poll leads of upto 13%, showed that he will be ultra-cautious.
For many members of the parliamentary Labour party as well the longer the election is delayed the better because they can continue with their salaries and expenses package. If after yesterday’s decision they are going to suffer the pain of disclosure, you can sense them feeling, let’s make this last as long as possible.
- But there is a factor that could well be out of Labour’s and Brown’s control. What happens if the recession – now official – gets worse and it’s clear that the only way of restoring confidence is by having a new government with a new mandate?
At this stage I cannot work out how that would translate itself into Brown or his successor going to the Palace to ask for a dissolution – but surely if the circumstances were so overwhelming then this could happen? Could an election, for instance, be demanded by the IMF as part of a UK-wide bailout package?
For one of the massive distractions for Brown as he tries to deal with the crisis is the knowledge that in little over fifteen months there has to be an election. Every action is seen through the prism of that eventuality which cannot be be the best environment for cleared-headed decision making.