Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Odds Against an early election.
In spite of a real surge in speculation of an early election the betting odds remain firmly against Gordon Brown going to the country in 2009. After days of 'will he go in the Spring?' speculation the money is staying firmly on 2010 as the date of the next General Election.
One reason I am interested in what the odds are is that I have recently changed my mind about this. All the way through the election that never was in 2007 I remained resolute that Gordon was not a man to make a decision before he had to, and that as a result he would always 'put off till tomorrow what you could do today' and not go to the country before the last possible date - June 2010.
Lately - and especially since Mandelson reappeared in 10 Downing Street - I had begun to rethink this - and the evidence is piling up:
1) Increasing guerilla tactics, the recent attempt to destabilise and discredit George Osbourne and the arrest of Damian Green are good examples of the black arts being deployed.
2) Money - Labour has come to an accommodation with the unions and now has the funds to fight if they want it, donations to them are also sharply up and ahead of us last quarter
3) Activity, Labour hyave been a blur of campaigning activity recently, locally as well as nationally, with targetted mailshots going out in all marginal constituencies.
4) Spin, the level of Labour spin has gone up (including spinning knife crime statistics and releasing them early) and manipulating the daily news agenda with repeated and constant news stories designed to blot out any opposition activity. This is a great short-term tactic Governments usually deploy in the run - up to a general election (after a GE is called, the media have to hand out airtime equally).
5) Tax give-away - well some has happened already but I do expect another raft of tax cuts in the spring (all on our borrowed money).
6) Interest rate cuts. Before Bank of England independence it was often the case that Chancellors discovered the 'need' for lower interest rates and base rates were cut. This time it is even easier, Brown has taken control of most of the high street bank network and cut rates that way.
Rumours abound of adverts and airtime booked by Labour in March as well.
So with so much evidence why do the betting markets still not rate the chances?
Probably it is because we have seen all this before. In the lead up to Autumn 2007 the airwaves were thick with speculation of a snap autumn poll and as we all now know, Brown bottled it. Punters think that exactly the same will happen again. Advisers and the party will go to great lengths to prepare for an election that when the final moment comes Brown will baulk from calling.
I am not so sure....