Thursday, October 04, 2007

Posties Deliver for Gordon?

Pillar Box
Posties to the rescue?
It seems a lot less lonely at the moment being in the 'no autumn election' camp. Guido has a list of those who know a damn sight more than I do who are swinging behind the viewpoint that Gordon's small 'c' conservative instincts must be militating towards a later poll date, short of miraculous polling data in his favour.

There has been much talk about how his only real risk in this strategy is in looking either weak and indecisive, or like someone cynically playing with the media. There is some truth to this, especially as David Cameron is doing a pretty good job of boxing him into this corner. That said, the general consensus, which I'm inclined to agree with is that any damage to Brown over not calling the election would be pretty short lived, especially as he has studiously avoided making any significant comments on the timing of the election.

I actually think that he might even be able to do a little better than that, thanks to his brethren in union movement. With the postmen looking to disrupt postal services for weeks it would be very easy to present not holding an election as the responsible decision, especially in view of the well reported problems over electoral registration. I'm pretty sure that he'd almost certainly try the line that it would be 'irresponsible' to call for an election to be held in the current circumstances, though I don't think it's a jab that would carry all that much weight given the number of people on his own benches who have been making the same call.

It would be fascinating to hear some of the strategy discussions in Conservative high command at the moment. I find it hard to believe that they really do want to go to the polls just yet, but still the opportunity to keep up the pressure on Brown must be irresistible. There are clearly risks but reports such as that from the Guardian website today that Cameron is demanding the customary pre-election access to senior civil servants seem a pretty good way of keeping the Conservatives in the media spotlight in a way that makes them look to be very much on the front foot, which after all is half the battle.

According to the report:
"Given that you have allowed members of the cabinet to speculate openly that an election is to be called imminently, I am asking you today to give the necessary instructions for such meetings to begin immediately," wrote Mr Cameron.

"I would like this to start tomorrow, before the actual campaign begins, which would be consistent with past precedent."

In his letter, Mr Cameron disclosed that then prime minister Tony Blair wrote to the Tory leader in April last year authorising such talks to go ahead from January 1 2009, ahead of a possible election that year.

Source: Guardian Unlimited

While it appears that granting such access would still leave the Prime Minister a fair amount of leeway in when to call an election I've always felt that at hear he'd have wanted to go in the spring of 2009, with a good period at the helm under his belt and still a whole year of wiggle room if there were clouds on the horizon. I've wonder if this could precipitate an explicit public announcement on the matter if is decision is not to go to the polls now, as clearly he wouldn't want to afford Cameron's team that length of access.

In summary then, still with an extreme fear of egg on face, I'm sticking to the no autumn election line. I'd even be prepared to back the idea of a positive statement on the matter sometime early next week, putting the decision down to postal disputes and registration issues, rather than simply it fading off the agenda. I've no special sources of information; it's just the route that seems most consistent with the Brown I know and loathe.

Once again, I'm off to check the news feeds before posting!

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