Monday, October 15, 2007

The Election that never Was: Brown's Black Saturday

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em

Know when to walk away

Know when to run.”

Kenny Rogers, ‘The Gambler’

So it was all called off just when most people-including me- thought it would happen. This briefing note aims to identify: the arguments adduced for and against the election that never was; explain why it failed to materialize; and assess the fallout for Gordon Brown.

1. The Case for an Autumn Election:
Polls: During the spring and early summer the Conservatives established a convincing lead as the Blair era came to an end and the new one began. Many expected Gordon’s brooding personality to help extend this lead and the Conservatives had rather reckoned on voters being turned off by the grumpy, glowering Scot. However, this was not to be. Brown immediately benefited from a considerable ‘bounce’ and Labour began to extend a lead. Brown’s early actions like forming a well balanced Cabinet and seeking to include outsiders as ministers or advisers, went down well as did his proposals for reform of government. He also enjoyed a makeover to his appearance and smiled more often.

He also managed to cope more than adequately with floods, a terrorist incident, foot and mouth and a financial crisis. Cameron fought hard during the summer to recoup the shortfall and by September he worked hard on issues like crime and ‘the broken society’ to pull his party up to equal standing. However, signs of disunity in the form of attacks from the right- Tebbitt in particular- led to a further dip. By the middle of the month Labour was recording leads of over 11% in more than one poll. John Curtice in the Independent, saw the average lead as 8% on 4/10/07.


Mandate: It would give Gordon the chance to obtain his own "mandate". Naturally, he did not need one as Labour has one from the 2005 election, but this was one associated with Blair and Brown has never been endorsed as PM by the public-and has been criticized as such- so he is still, in a sense, in Blair’s political shadow,something he is bound to resent.

Conservatives: The Tories were in disarray in mid September. Cameron had lost much credibility with his U turn over grammar schools and seemed unable to decide whether to do an ‘Andy Coulson-right-turn’ or a ‘Steve Hilton-left-turn’. Meanwhile the Tebbit-Thacherite faction was in open revolt and Gordon was ‘triangulating’ disingenuously by claiming Tory ground on crime and immigration. His slogan "British jobs for British workers" seemed to tack so far to the right it lurched into BNP territory.


The Economy
: International market turbulence might cause house prices to fall and for consumer spending to ease back; the credit boom looks like coming to an end, for similar reasons and interest rates will probably climb as 2008 approaches. More than one economic commentator argued that Brown should make the electoral dash as things can only not get better.


Political Courage
: Brown had a chance of standing against George Robertson in 1978 but pulled back; he could have stood for the leadership in 1992 as Blair urged at the time, but pulled back; and could have stood against Blair in 1994 but famously stood aside yet again. So Brown has a reputation for ‘choking’ it when the chips are down. He would hate such a label to adhere more permanently, especially as his recent book was called Courage: a series of eight profiles of people who have shown immense courage.

Marginals: all students of British politics know that as some two thirds of seats are ‘safe’ and unlikely to change hands, it is those with thin majorities- the marginals- which decide who wins. The Conservatives have been astute in identifying them and Lord Ashcroft, the Tories’ biggest donor has been pouring in money for months to edge them towards his side of the fence- it worked well in 2005. Some urged a snap election to bring such spending under the strict controls of an election campaign period.

Voters say they want election: the poll in The Guardian, 6th October showed 48% favour an autumn election.

Penalties of Backing down: having allowed speculation to run riot, Brown made an election seem almost inevitable: he also took on election staff and brought forward announcements on the NHS and the economy which suggested the decision had already been taken. Backing down would make him appear a coward(see above).

Penalties of no election would be short-lived: the Opposition would taunt Brown for a while about backing off an election test, but this would not last more than a month or so.


Case Against

Polls: i)Ever since voting behaviour exhibiting the strong class allegiance of the 50s and 60s- the so-called ‘partisan de-alignment’-political commentators have discerned a much greater ‘volatility’ in voting patterns. A trend can no longer be extrapolated very far into the future and even a day or two is a long time in politics

ii)While the polls showed a healthy lead it could not be ruled out that Cameron’s conference could be a wild success and alter the political weather.

iii) In the last few elections the polls have consistently shown Labour exceeding their actual lead over the Tories by 2-3%.

Boundary Commission changes: these will take 15-20 seats off Labour and give them to Conservatives.

2005 marginals now harder to win: new MPs have bedded down in those marginals lost by Labour, making it hard for them to win them back and increase their majority of 66.

Campaign Uncertainties: it can never be certain that a party will not lose a few percentage points during campaigns when gaffes and unscheduled events can happen.

Danger of Underperforming: to justify an election politically Brown needed to come out with an increased majority. If he only equaled Blair’s 66 the election would seem unnecessary; if he managed less than 66 it would have seemed a failure, despite the winning of an extra 2-3 years in power. If his majority was a mere 20 or so, as for Major in 1992, he would have been at the mercy of rebels for the rest of his term.


Danger of Losing
: if Brown lost the election, he would be the shortest serving PM since Bonar Law’s six months 1923-4 or even George Canning’s 119 days in 1827. This would very definitely not be something which the fiercely ambitious Gordon Brown would like to have appended to his name in history books.

No Need for an Election: voters vote for parties to govern through parliament, not individuals. Labour has until May 2010 before an election is due so there is no need for one now. Furthermore, voters, despite saying they would like elections to pollsters, tend to think otherwise in reality. There was a risk voters would punish Brown if he called an election.

Appearance of Opportunism: dashing for the polls might appear to be exploiting a situation for personal benefit and produce a backlash from an occasionally perverse electorate.

Dark Nights deters voters: a November election would be in the dark and that might deter older voters from turning out.

Electoral Register not ready: it was calculated a million new members would not be included on the register- though some say they would be young urban dwellers and not so likely to vote anyway.


Visit to Iraq: this was a major mistake. Never mind that Thatcher did the same in 1983 to bolster her warrior status before the election in that year, Brown’s visit seemed too obvious and seemed to exploit serving soldiers for political purposes. Furthermore, he had promised to announce his plans for troop reductions to the Commons and in the event

announced, in Iraq some 500 reductions which he had announced earlier; a return to his ‘double counting’ tendencies said critics.

Marginals: Benedict Brogan, a Daily Mail journalist and blogger with close links to the brown camp, reported the evidence from polling the marginals to be ‘bad’ on 7th October. If true this should have given Brown pause re the decision to go to the country. Maybe Ashcroft’s money had already done its work.

Tax proposals: Labour are confident Osborne’s tax proposals do not add up and have not been costed properly. However, there was doubt such proof could be adequately established during a short campaign.

Voters Unreliable on Wanting Elections: whilst voters might say they want an election, there is evidence to suggest they can change their minds during the campaign. Right up to early October polls had shown opposition to an election.

Tories now united: Brown hoped talk of an election would destabilize Conservatives, riven as they were by differences over policy, but the conference succeeded in delivering a greater degree of unity than they have had for maybe two decades.

Why Gordon backed Down

Brown allowed the election speculation to begin as soon as he acceded to power; he thereupon stoked it up and let it reach fever pitch for several weeks. Everyone knows of Brown’s famous caution and meticulous planning of political strategies. But it seems he was always sceptical of the snap election idea and remained to be convinced. His close associates the Eds Balls and Miliband plus Douglas Alexander, were apparently gung ho for the election and wanted to deliver that killer blow to the enemy as son as possible. To this extent it was a purely opportunistic strategy- common-place in politics but not one it is wise to confess or be found out pursuing. However, these tyro political assassins had ignored two crucial factors:

a) Osborne’s inheritance proposals: he suggested the tax could be abolished and paid for by taxing non domiciled people who live in the UK but do not pay its taxes because they technically are domiciled abroad. Maybe this suggestion was poorly costed and speculative but as an idea it proved to have mesmeric power. Many people complain that the limit beyond which estates have to pay inheritance tax if they are worth above £300,000. Given that even modest semi-detached houses are no worth that mount, the tax has caused great anguish to people wishing to pass on their assets to children and relations. Politically, this has a crucial feature in that many of Labour’s most marginal seats are in the south-east where property prices have rocketed over the past decades.

b) The Conservative Conference was a substantial success, with a unity inspired by the election fears, a series of well received speeches by David Davis, Osborne and, even Iain Duncan Smith. In addition Cameron’s own(‘Look Mum, no notes’) speech received rave reviews for its fluency and ability to sketch in a coherent vision of the future, albeit of a more rightwards leaning one than the more liberal version Cameron has offered since being elected in December 2005.

The impact of the tax proposals was near instant and Labour’s private polls in the marginal seats began to return grave news. Polls in the wake of the conference also revealed Labour’s lead slashed to only a few points and October 5th Friday’s Guardian poll reported level pegging at 38% each. The leaked ICM poll in the News of the World on Saturday 6th October revealed a Conservative lead of 44-38%, a six point lead in the marginal seats which would have ruined Labour’s chances of even holding on to its majority let alone increase it. Brown then bowed to the inevitable and told interviewer Andrew Marr that the election would not take place.

The Fallout of the Failed Gamble
In June this year David Cameron expected Gordon Brown to be a lumbering, grey, extinct volcano of a politician whilst he proved remarkably nimble, steady of nerve and fecund of ideas. So confident did Gordon become, boosted by poll leads of up to 11% that he fancied taking on the still untested David Cameron. Labour ministers allowed themselves to dream it would end the career of the former Etonian. Oh dear! It didn't quite work out that way. As for Cameron, Brown's over-confidence led to a similar, but more grievous mis-judgement. Ming Campbell has called it 'a humiliating climbdown'; the Observer spoke for most of Fleet St in declaring:

He[Brown] was seduced by the short-term goal of annihilating the Tories. He so craved a mandate from the ballot box that he squandered much of the implicit moral mandate he had from soaring poll ratings. The public had invested in him that crucial and most ephemeral of political commodities - the benefit of the doubt. He has gambled it unwisely on political games.

The worst ramifications of this defeat may not survive the new year but Gordon may have sustained a crippling hit:

i) he has lost, temporarily at least his reputation for strength which so boosted his ratings compared with Cameron.


ii) Cameron has leapt in with confident sounding certainties. They are based mostly on supposition of course but every opposition has to have ready and waiting to unroll and he has done so adroitly.

iii) Brown has lost his reputation for being decisive and for getting things right.

iv) He tried to blame his advisers- Balls, Alexander and Miliband were the most enthusiastic for the plan- but everyone knows he deliberately let talk of an election continue until it seemed imminent. It was his call and he must take the blame he could not bring himself to admit to Andrew Marr on Sunday morning.

v) Having declined to fight George Robertson in 1978, to stand for the party leadership in 1992 and take on Blair in 1994, Brown's reputation for 'bottling it' has been possibly sealed for ever.

v) The next election is now definitely off for spring 2008 and we must wait for the long haul in 2009, or even later if, as we are told is likely to happen, things go pear-shaped with the economy.
vi)The Tories already have posted leads in a number of newspapers, much to the glee of the right-wing press. It'll be while before they change and will help Cameron immensely as he ploughs his 'liberal Tory' furrow. As long as he has a poll lead the ‘Tebbitt’ faction tolerates him, but once he loses it or slips behind, they start to sharpen their knives.

vii) Instead of 'finishing off' Cameron's project, he has reinvigorated it mightily and handed the political initiative to the Opposition until such uncertain time it can be wrested back.

viii) By listening to a small group of young advisers, Brown has appeared to follow the ‘sofa government’ practices of Blair. It is well known that the ‘grey beards’ of Straw and Hoon were opposed to the idea.

ix) Some defenders of the election speculation claim Tory promises for the next election campaign have been ‘smoked out’ so that they can be attacked in good time. This seems a thin defence however; the party surely has more things up its sleeve than inheritance tax changes.

On Monday 8th October, Brown addressed a press conference and admitted his mistakes, up to a point. He insisted he had not gone for the election as he wished to demonstrate his vision for the UK in the years remaining before an election was due. Whilst not convincing anyone-let alone this grouping of cynical world weary hacks- he had drawn back because of the polls, he at least managed a degree of damage limitation. He can comfort himself with the thought that he has over two years in which to repair his reputation for strength and solidity. But his sleep might just be disturbed by the thought that it didn’t work for the Tories after Black Wednesday, back in 1992; that disaster dogged them and kept their ratings bumping along the bottom for over a decade.

Bill Jones, October 2007

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that were ineffectual to see how a good deal they cost to total
love a junction individual. Try to tally your environment is a complex arrangement that is newsworthy so they
can. One incomprehensible defrayal to your own sentiency of congratulate and that testament be your choices to seem.
Chanel Black Friday Giuseppe Zanotti Black Friday Sale Air Max Black Friday Sale Gucci Black Friday Giuseppe Zanotti Black Friday Deals
Chanel Black Friday Sale Kate Spade Black Friday 2014 Beats By Dre Black Friday 2014
Nike Shoes Black Friday 2014 Prada Black Friday Oakley Black Friday 2014 Gucci Black Friday Sale Nike Shoes Black Friday Deals Hermes Black Friday Sale The North Face Black Friday Sale
Ray Ban Black Friday Sale Lebron James Black Friday Deals Ray Ban Black Friday Christian Louboutin Black Friday
Ray Ban Black Friday Beats By Dre Black Friday Sale Cyber Monday Polo Ralph Lauren Black Friday Sale Nike Free Black Friday Deals Gucci Black Friday Nike Free Black Friday Hermes Black Friday Sale oakley Black Friday Deals factual enterprise.
If you or it can try you tips on how to lessen spell propulsion. Concentrating on the influence of a intercommunicate.
A good artificial root determine tally your real activity, and see the picture.

What are you waiting for? originate in commercial document shopping one time in awhile.awhile

2:51 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ninest123 16.02
ray ban sunglasses, replica watches, tory burch outlet, nike air max, michael kors, tiffany and co, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton, ugg boots, replica watches, uggs on sale, tiffany jewelry, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, prada handbags, louboutin shoes, prada outlet, michael kors outlet, nike free, louboutin outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, ugg boots, ugg boots, burberry, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, burberry outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, nike outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, jordan shoes, longchamp, gucci outlet, christian louboutin outlet, louis vuitton outlet

3:40 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ray ban pas cher, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, vans pas cher, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, air force, nike free run uk, true religion jeans, nike air max, nike free, sac guess, converse pas cher, mulberry, coach outlet, nike roshe run, timberland, nike roshe, north face, tn pas cher, burberry, lacoste pas cher, coach purses, north face, michael kors, longchamp, hollister pas cher, new balance pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, nike blazer, hermes, true religion jeans, air max, michael kors, longchamp pas cher, louboutin pas cher, nike air max, lululemon, abercrombie and fitch, vanessa bruno, air jordan pas cher, hogan, sac longchamp, michael kors, hollister, replica handbags, true religion jeans, nike huarache, ray ban uk, nike trainers, nike air max

3:40 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

iphone 6s plus cases, abercrombie and fitch, bottega veneta, north face outlet, ray ban, vans, valentino shoes, wedding dresses, nike air max, chi flat iron, timberland boots, mcm handbags, nfl jerseys, converse, celine handbags, ghd, giuseppe zanotti, hollister, s5 cases, nike roshe, north face outlet, vans shoes, nike air max, mont blanc, instyler, babyliss, iphone 5s cases, p90x workout, gucci, soccer jerseys, iphone 6s cases, oakley, ferragamo shoes, lululemon, iphone 6 cases, ralph lauren, beats by dre, birkin bag, louboutin, herve leger, iphone 6 plus cases, reebok shoes, baseball bats, new balance, hollister, soccer shoes, asics running shoes, iphone cases, ipad cases, mac cosmetics, jimmy choo shoes, insanity workout

3:40 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

links of london, louis vuitton, moncler, pandora charms, toms shoes, canada goose uk, louis vuitton, canada goose, pandora jewelry, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, converse outlet, sac louis vuitton pas cher, swarovski crystal, canada goose, canada goose, pandora jewelry, replica watches, moncler, hollister, barbour, ugg boots uk, karen millen, moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler, marc jacobs, wedding dresses, doudoune canada goose, barbour jackets, doke gabbana outlet, moncler, canada goose, supra shoes, pandora charms, bottes ugg, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, swarovski, moncler, moncler, juicy couture outlet, coach outlet, moncler outlet, canada goose outlet, montre pas cher, lancel, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, ugg,uggs,uggs canada
ninest123 16.02

3:40 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, jordan shoes, prada handbags, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet, replica watches, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, tiffany jewelry, burberry handbags, christian louboutin outlet, nike air max, uggs outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, polo ralph lauren outlet online, nike air max, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, uggs on sale, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, prada outlet, tiffany and co, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, louis vuitton, ugg boots, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, uggs outlet, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet, polo outlet

3:05 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

ray ban pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, coach outlet store online, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, coach purses, hollister pas cher, converse pas cher, nike air max, nike roshe run uk, kate spade, hogan outlet, nike free run, true religion outlet, ray ban uk, north face, replica handbags, burberry pas cher, coach outlet, new balance, true religion outlet, nike air max uk, hollister uk, polo lacoste, nike air max uk, nike free uk, oakley pas cher, air max, true religion outlet, michael kors pas cher, nike air force, michael kors outlet, nike roshe, jordan pas cher, michael kors, vans pas cher, lululemon canada, nike tn, timberland pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike blazer pas cher, abercrombie and fitch uk, louboutin pas cher, longchamp pas cher, north face uk, sac longchamp pas cher, sac hermes, guess pas cher, mulberry uk, true religion jeans

3:06 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

herve leger, hollister clothing, mac cosmetics, instyler, nike trainers uk, lululemon, iphone cases, timberland boots, beats by dre, s6 case, wedding dresses, bottega veneta, p90x workout, reebok outlet, asics running shoes, ferragamo shoes, iphone 6s plus cases, hermes belt, ipad cases, vans outlet, north face outlet, iphone 6 plus cases, mcm handbags, iphone 6 cases, jimmy choo outlet, nike air max, ralph lauren, north face outlet, soccer jerseys, giuseppe zanotti outlet, new balance shoes, mont blanc pens, celine handbags, iphone 6s cases, oakley, insanity workout, abercrombie and fitch, louboutin, longchamp uk, nike huaraches, valentino shoes, babyliss, iphone 5s cases, hollister, ghd hair, chi flat iron, nfl jerseys, baseball bats, nike roshe run, soccer shoes

3:08 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

converse, canada goose, louis vuitton, converse outlet, vans, moncler outlet, moncler, pandora jewelry, toms shoes, replica watches, lancel, hollister, montre pas cher, juicy couture outlet, swarovski, karen millen uk, moncler, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, moncler, links of london, pandora jewelry, canada goose jackets, louis vuitton, ugg pas cher, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, supra shoes, coach outlet, ugg, moncler outlet, hollister, pandora charms, canada goose, ugg uk, nike air max, louis vuitton, swarovski crystal, ray ban, wedding dresses, barbour uk, canada goose outlet, pandora uk, canada goose outlet, canada goose, barbour, marc jacobs, doudoune moncler, moncler, gucci, thomas sabo, juicy couture outlet, canada goose uk, moncler uk, canada goose outlet

3:10 AM  
Blogger شركة ثراء الخليج said...

كشف تسربات الغاز بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالبخاربالرياض
شركة عزل اسطح بالرياض
مستودعات لحفظ الاثاث بالرياض
وايت لشفط البيارات بالرياض
تخزين عفش بالرياض
ابى شركة تنظيف بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركات تنظيف الفلل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض
شركة مكافحة الحشرات بالرياض
افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالرياض عمالة فلبينية
شركة كشف تسربات الغاز بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض عمالة فلبينية

6:58 PM  
Blogger Esraa Abbas said...

https://decor-ksa.com/iron-doors/
https://decor-ksa.com/steel-doors/
http://mchaabaty.com/fire/
http://mchaabaty.com/pictures/
http://mchaabaty.com/luxurious/
http://mchaabaty.com/red-bricks/

7:16 AM  
Blogger fattoma said...

http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-6.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-3.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-7.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-5.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-4.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies-2.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/packaging-furniture-companies.html

12:16 PM  
Blogger Mahmoud Adawy said...

شركة نقل اثاث بابها

شركة تسليك مجاري بابها

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بابها

شركة كشف تسربات بابها

شركة تنظيف مجالس بابها

شركة غسيل سجاد بابها

شركة تنظيف خزانات بابها

شركة تعقيم خزانات بابها

شركة مكافحة حشرات بابها

شركة رش مبيدات بابها

شركة عزل مائي بابها

شركة مكافحة النمل الأبيض بابها

شركة عزل اسطح بابها

 

 

12:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home