Is it time to revisit Tom Watson’s source?
Although Westminster was surprised that Andy Coulson resigned when he did, it had to a large extent been foretold. Tom Watson was only a few days out in his remarkable prediction earlier this month when Coulson would go. After last week’s dramatic events Watson’s article more than merits a re-read.
Watson’s source also believes Conservative preparations are already underway for a May general election. The Midlands MP acknowledges that Labour would be outspent and although he doesn’t point it out, it’d mean Labour would almost entirely be dependent on union funding which wouldn’t exactly be helpful for Ed Miliband. He needs time to build up new funds from small and independent donors and a May election would deny that. The argument continues by asserting that Cameron believes the Lib Dems will become an unreliable partner in the years ahead and that the lack of a majority is a source of personal irritation to him.
The advantage of a 2011 election bet is that it also allows for the repercussions of other elections should a general election not be called this May. The Lib Dems are likely to lose a large number of seats and councils which would shatter their local activist base in a number of English regions. They will be completely wiped out in Scotland.
An AV referendum will also change the political dynamic whatever the outcome. If it passes then the Lib Dems will be buoyed and some there will be serious questioning about the benefits of being associated with 4 more years of unpopular cuts?
If the referendum falls then what we must ask what else could coalition government offer them to sustain their support? More and more demands would further anger the ‘Mainstream Conservative’ Right and dramatically increase coalition instability. These May elections could quite conceivably create the circumstances that will quickly lead to an autumn general election.
Whether Tom Watson’s source is again correct, there are enough reasons to think that 2011 may well provide another general election. William Hill makes this year 2nd favourite for the year of the next general election market. 7/2 increasingly looks too big to me and I’d make the true price between 7/4 and 2/1.
HenryG Manson is a Labour activist a regular contributor to PB