26 February 2010

Election fever Part VIII: A March poll? Hold the front page

Apologises to John Rentoul and Iain Martin, but there is a way that a dissolution can still happen on Monday.

The Boiling Frog has kindly left a link to this document:


This states:

4.12 When the Prime Minister announces the date for the election he must also decide when Parliament will be dissolved. He can, if he so wishes, seek the dissolution immediately in which case any and all outstanding legislation is lost. More likely, there will be an interval between the announcement and the dissolution.

4.13 During this interval, usually referred to as the “wash-up” period...

The earlier post assumed that the ‘wash up’ had to take place, which may not be the case.

As discussed, this leaves the problem of his Chilcot evidence, which Brown said he will give before the election. 

Digg This


  1. Chilcot is the huge elephant in the room that stands in the way of Brown calling the election this week. He has already committed himself to appearing before an election, so this would be hard to get around without looking bad. Add into this the fact that his appearance is has already being scheduled.

    This is why I think he will do Chilcot and call the election the Monday after on the 8th March (if he's going for a 25th March poll that is.)

    Then he can ether dissolve parliament on the same day as the rules allow, or he can have a very short washing-up and dissolve on the Wednesday.

    I have written a fuller analysis of the snap election timeline here: http://bit.ly/cKhOWD

  2. Thanks EDBE. Personally, I remain unconvinced he will call it early for the many reasons you suggest but also because it would mean campaigning in March before the clocks change. Getting volunteers out to canvass during dark cold nights is not going to be easy.

    It won't stop Brown fueling speculation though if only to try to overshadow the Tories' Spring conference this weekend.

    @Tory Politico, for a March 25th election, Brown would have to call it and dissolve Parliament on Monday and no later, due the 17 day timetable required (excluding weekends etc)

  3. Although I may be proved wrong, the odds are utterly stacked against a March 25th poll.

    As you point out if he dissolves on Monday, then there's no wash-up, no budget, no chilcot, no clocks going forward and no money for Labour to fight the local elections.

    If Brown is going to disrupt the Tory conference, it won't be with a dissolution. It could be announcing the date of the budget though.

  4. TBF,

    I am told the rules regarding the 'wash up' have only just been changed. Is that right?

    There is only one matter I would take issue with you. I think the clock change is a red herring. If Brown thought he could pull it off on 25 March he would go for it. This fine weather argument was valid years ago but not now.

  5. EDBE,

    I'm not aware of any recent rule changes regarding 'wash-up' though happy to be corrected. The link I provided is the latest I could find.

    The last time an election was announced and parliament dissolved on the same day was 1924 so if Brown did that it would be highly unusual.

    I take your point regarding clock change, it's just that the cold / dark factor was of reasons he dithered in 2007 when he was warned by some of the older members of the cabinet that it would depress the Labour turnout.

  6. Thanks for that. You are on the ball.

    Just one point that I may come to on Saturday. It is ironical that Chilcot may have been the deciding factor in not going for 25 March.

    If the polls narrow further over the weekend, then he will has a very difficult decision on his hands.

    Once again, I am most grateful for all your help today.