22 May 2009

More thoughts on a July election

The clattering train that is New Labour attempts to keep moving.  Today brings more speculation on the reshuffle here and here.  To accompany these rumours there is now talk of Brown launching a National Plan after the June elections.  Our leader is expected to "hit the ground running" on 8th June and “show that Labour has not run out of steam after 12 years in office”.  The problem is people have stopped listening.

Then we have poll saying that 54% of the public want an immediate general election.

The Economist says that an election can wait and concludes:

As for an election, one is due within a year. Better to save that great accounting for a time when voters care about something bigger than the dodgy expenses of some errant MPs.

The electorate want change, the ‘something bigger’ is the state of the economy as highlighted by Standard & Poor's' concerns, not to mention a ridiculed prime minister who has lost his authority.

The clamour for an early election is not going away, and judging by the Question Time audience last night is likely to grow.  Labour should not ignore the changed mood and as I have posted, a July election is being mentioned in Cabinet.

It is time to revisit the ‘The Bob Hawke Scenario’ that I discussed earlier and now believe will work in Labour’s favour:

It was one of the most extraordinary days in Australian politics, which are so much earthier than ours. Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal prime minister, went to the Governor-General to ask for a general election. Hayden was a colourless leader of the opposition and Fraser wanted to capitalise on the Government's unexpected victory in a by-election. At the same time, though, Labor MPs were meeting in Brisbane. Most feared that they would lose under Hayden and thought that they stood a better chance with Hawke, a charismatic and – as Carleton found out – sharp-tongued new MP. By the time Fraser got back from the Governor-General's mansion, he found that he would be fighting the election not against Hayden but Hawke – who went on to win not just that election but the next three as well.

Obviously it would be modified along the lines that Alan Johnson replaces Brown in June and calls for an immediate general election that would take place in mid-July.  I can see no other viable option for Labour to take (I have discussed a few) if they wish to avoid a heavy defeat at the polls.

There is time for the MPs tarnished by the expenses scandal to stand down and for new candidates to be put in place.  The short time frame between now and July would stop independents gaining traction.

This Parliament is now discredited and has little useful work to do.  The country wants an election and after the expenses scandal deserves one.  If Labour wish to cut their losses then having a July election, with Alan Johnson as leader, is the best way it will avoid electoral meltdown at a future date.  You never know, under the this scenario, Labour may even win.

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