Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Your Marks, Get Set...

Is Gordon Brown preparing for a general election next spring? I ask because of 3 particular straws in the wind:

  1. The latest opinion polls seem to be indicating, in England at least, that there's been something of a 'Brown Bounce'.

  2. Chancellor Alastair Darling is reported to be considering combining the annual Pre-Budget Report (usually published in December) with the bi/tri annual Comprehensive Spending Review (July), and publishing in October.

  3. Ed Milliband has reportedly started work on the next Labour manifesto.

I still don't really see the logic, but stranger things have happened. However, it will most likely depend on how the by-election goes in Ealing Southall on 19 July (sorry, Sedgefield voters, but on past evidence you'll just be taken for granted). It will also, I suspect, depend on whether this apparent lead can be sustained into the new year.

It's worth pointing out that he doesn't actually need to go to the country again until c. May 2010. Are those self-serving Tory jibes about Brown having no mandate (John Major pre-1992, anyone?) starting to get under his skin?


Bill said...

(John Major pre-1992, anyone?)

- or indeed Callaghan in the mid-70s. All governing parties have done it at one time or another. Labour did it several times in the Scottish Parliament aleady, and I expect the SNP would, too, if ever a replacement for Salmond were required [again]. Just like MPs 'crossing the House' it's feature of British life, if slightly unpalatable.

Richard Thomson said...

I think you're right, although I think it only becomes a problem if you regard a political system as being presidential, rather than as a series of local representatives who form (largely fixed but occasionally shifting) alliances based on common interests.

I remember Margaret Thatcher making mincemeat of Neil Kinnock at her last PMQs by making the very point you just did about the transition from Wilson to Callaghan. Whenever the jibes come, they always seem a bit ritualistic. They might not care for it very much, but ultimately, voters just expect the pols to get on with it, personnel changes at the top or not, and will express their approval/disapproval in due course.