Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Will There Be An Early Election?

Despite the Government making confident noises about the current slow down in the economy being only temporary, they really know, deep down, that we are in for at least two years of pain. However much they try to hide behind "global issues" as if they can do nothing about it we all know that a lot of the problems have been self-inflicted by Brown's wrong-headed - some would say pig-headed - management of the country's finances over the last decade or so.

This piece by Jim Pickard in the FT Westminster blog asks "Why are Labour so confident about the economy" and explains they have buried their heads in the sand. "It’s always the same when I meet Labour MPs, union officials, ministers, other party apparatchiks. They all think the economy will endure a rapid, shallow dip and then recover. How can I put this politely? They are almost certainly wrong. Or, at the least, fantastically over-optimistic......"

Brown has two years - by which time the next general election has to happen - so if he waits that long an election in May 2010 could take place against the gloomiest economic backdrop since 1993.

We all know he is a great ditherer and will put off as long as possible the day of reckoning. But he also has a reputation as a great political strategist. If this is true then he may calculate that it will be safer to go sooner rather than later. Of course, the fact that the Labour Party is as bankrupt as the country would make this a very high risk strategy - one that a lot of Labour MPs with wafer thin majorities might not be too happy to support.

On balance, the odds would seem to be on him playing the long game but I might be persuaded to put a couple of pounds on an early election - even as early as this autumn.