Interesting article in the Guardian today hinting at the possibility of an early General Election being called alongside the European Parliamentary elections next year. The speculation is being fuelled by un-named backbench MPs and the fact that the Conservative lead in the polls has been slashed to 3 points. The Labour Party is trying to move on to a war footing and excitement as to a Fourth Term is starting to grow...
Surely we can't be seeing this again!
The mishandling of the election that never was at the beginning of Gordon Brown's term in office was one of the most catastrophic blunders in recent UK political history. Almost single-handedly the mess undermined GB's popularity with the British public; undid his secure handling of the issues which had cropped up in his first few weeks in power; and propelled a Tory Party which was preparing to implode into the frontrunner status of government in waiting.
You would presume that the party has learnt from the disaster of that time and wouldn't replay the failures all over again. After all, it has taken a year and a global economic crash unmatched in modern history for us to be looking like we might be able to avoid complete wipe-out at the next election - to undo this after all the hard work of the intervening period would be unforgivable. And to be fair, the Government is having nothing to do with these rumours, allowing them to drift past while they get on with the work of running the country.
The point is, of course, that the Government needs to keep doing what it has been doing recently and allow the election to arise naturally at a suitable point. The Conservatives had a fun year, essentially sitting back and watching Labour try to destroy itself. However, they are now starting to come under increasing scrutiny and this is going to inevitably provoke difficulties.
George Osbourne, the credit crunch, ditching Labour spending - already the issues are starting to mount up. The ditching of the spending plans does give the Tories the chance to outline their own plans for taxation and spending, however they managed to announce their decision at the same time as the CBI and Institute of Directors came out in support of the Government's proposals - neither are exactly hotbeds of socialism! Cameron is now looking rather isolated in his opposition - should the Government's plans prove successful then this decision has the potential to kill his chances off completely (Of course, if they are a disaster then it may guarantee him a win - such is the risk and reward of gambling!). At the same time, Osbourne has gone from being a lauded and crucial part of the shadow cabinet to a liability who many members of the Conservatives would like to shifted (in many cases they feel this is for his own good/political career rather than out of backbiting).
So, the election that for a dark period looked unwinnable for the Labour Party is now starting to look like a real competition. However, the party has to ensure that this opportunity, won through the hard work of activists and elected representatives, is not lost through the folly of renewed speculation over an election. Making the mistake a second time would be unforgivable.