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December 08, 2006

A shock election from Prime Minister Brown?

Might Gordon Brown be preparing a shock election for us in 2008?

Hazel Blears has suggested in a letter to party activists that Labour should prepare for an election in as little as “16 months away”.

Sir Bob Worcester predicted last year that the next election would be on 7th May 2009. He predicted the last one accurately to the very day. But I’ve also been hearing rumours over the past year that Labour might be planning a snap election rather sooner.

They’ve selected their parliamentary candidates for the next election earlier than would be usual in a 4-5 year parliamentary cycle. The Conservatives have responded and should have their lists complete in under a year.

Why would they want a quick election?
Well, it would allow Brown to pull off a few spectacular moves (like reform of the House of Lords) before walking his way through a general election. Similarly, there might be worries that the longer David Cameron has to bed in, the better he’ll get.

But will it work?
I think there’s a chance it might. The best way for Brown to overcome his glaring lack of warm personality is to blind us with a raft of dramatic changes in policy and make his government appear strong and forward-thinking. Scrapping ID Cards isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, and we might see greater independence for the NHS, allowing it to govern itself.

Only if he does this quickly and avoids silly mistakes will the strategy come off. It’s high risk and there’s always a danger that ‘events’ will derail the entire plan. But if it works, we can forget fears of a hung parliament, no matter when he decides to call the election.

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