Can Gord call it off without being damaged?
There can be absolutely no doubt that if it had not been for the post-Blackpool polls this weekend would effectively have been the first phase of the general election campaign. So much was in place, a series of key announcements has been careful choreographed and a date with Gord had been pencilled into the Queen’s diary.
The big question is how can Brown now pull back from that position without suffering too much damage – a predicament made harder by the “bring it on” calls from leading Tories.
The Guardian’s main editorial sets out the problem succinctly – “Either he calls a contest next week, with the risk that the outcome may prove calamitous, or he must make it clear, quickly and in person, that there will be no election this year – and perhaps next – and take the consequences on the chin..How bad those consequences will be no one can tell. But they cannot be as awful as emerging from a premature battle in the November dark with a diminished majority and diminished authority. He would become a tail-end leader taunted by a strengthened opposition after an election that need not have taken place.”
We are told that everything now depends on the detail of polls due tomorrow on how things are standing in 150 marginal seats. There are also likely to be other indicators tomorrow including a new ICM poll. I would expect to see a survey amongst members of the YouGov panel as well.
Meanwhile further details of yesterday’s ICM poll are published in the Guardian and this shows that those interviewed now want an early election by 48% to 43%. But the party breakdown is very different. Tory supporters were in favour by 67% to 29% while amongst Labour supporters the split was 35% YES to 58% NO.
The great challenge for Brown is that the momentum is with Cameron-Osborne and you don’t want to start an election campaign on the back foot.
In the betting there’s been a sharp move from Labour on the Commons seat spread markets. Last night’s closing price from IGIndex was LAB 320 – 326 seats: CON 242-248: LD 46-49.. Last Sunday the Labour spread was 332-338 seats. The weight of money is moving against Brown. Gord needs 325 MPs to be certain of a majority.
0800 Update – SkyNews Just to report that a big SkyNews satellite truck has just arrived outside my house for the item on polling and betting on the general election that I reported last night. I think it is to go out live from about 8.40am.