The day an autumn 2007 vote was bottled
Eight years today an event took place from which, I’d argue, all Labour’s trouble stem – the decision by the then PM to call off what were very advanced plans to have an early general election.
Everything had been geared up for this to be called in the days after the Tory conference. Even a fleet of limousines to carry ministers about on had been booked and paid for.
Three months earlier Gordon had taken over as leader in an uncontested election and the polls turned from regular CON leads to regular LAB ones. By the end of September Ipsos-MORI recorded a 13% LAB margin and the talk was not whether Gordon would go to the country but of the red team securing a landslide.
Throughout September the new Brown government had been making a policy announcement a day, committing billions of pounds, in the build up to what was widely expected to be an early election. Even the manifesto was at an advanced stage.
The big question was not whether there would be an early election but when it would be called.
As Labour’s poll ratings remained buoyant all the pressure was on Cameron who’d been almost totally blanked out of the news for months. Was this going to be the moment when his then short-lived leadership would come to an end? Everything rested on maximising the opportunity presented by the guaranteed coverage they’d get for their conference.
Cameron made what until today was his best conference speech and Osborne announced a big easing of IHT which went down very well with the media. Labour’s poll lead began to slip and by the Saturday Gordon had decided to end the speculation.
The above is the famous interview he recorded with Andrew Marr on October 7th 2007. His claims that there had been no change of mind because of the polls seemed totally implausible. Labour, and Brown personally, never recovered.