His speech....did not change the calculations about when that election will be. It did not bomb and thus tempt Brown to press the button. It was not a belter that forced the Prime Minister to hold off. Next week's decision is still finely poised....The problems for Brown are those of substance. If he does call an election next week, what is it about? What are the pressing challenges requiring difficult decisions that were not in the 2005 manifesto? In the longer run, an early election, even assuming Labour wins by a reasonable margin – and a majority of 66 is harder to obtain because of boundary changes – could hasten the decay of Brown's authority. The moment the election is over, the question moves on to: "Are you going to fight the next one? Who will be the next leader, Ed Balls or David Miliband?" David Cameron's so-so speech leaves Gordon Brown just where the Conservative Party wants him: between a rock and hard place.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
To call or not to call
John Rentoul in today's Independent has clearly not been quite so intoxicated as many other hacks by the combination of Blackpool sea air and the Cameron 'look no script' trick. Cameron gave a reasonably good speech, though as on education, it relied on half-truths and prejudices to stay afloat. And there is something about party conferences that reduces capacity for rational thought among the media: I was at enough Labour conferences in the Kinnock years to know how a party starts the week gloomy but invariably ends up on course for victory. But Rentoul is also right when he describes Gordon Brown's dilemma over an election thus: