General Election?

My Parliamentary colleague to the South and other of Kent's Members of Parliament representing Labour marginal seats have turned the Summer air fetid with speculation about an early general election. I well understand their concern.  It is a myth that sitting MPs welcome elections: they can only lose and governments, inevitably, do change!  However, as the jack is out of the box may I add my own two-pennorth to this round of Westminster Village navel-gazing?

While the monkeys chatter it is the Big Organ Grinder, Gordon Brown, as the Prime Minister, who has to ask Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

Gordon Brown is a Scottish Presbyterian.  He has, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, spent ten years gambling with taxpayers` money but I suspect that his natural and personal instincts are rather more cautious.  He has waited for a long and frustrating time to get his hand on the door handle of Number Ten Downing Street. He has up to three years as Prime Minister left in the bag. Is he likely to risk throwing that away or to take the chance of being accused of running when he has an elected job to do?

Set against that there is the "Brown Bounce" effect.  The British Nation heaved an audible sigh of relief when Mr. Blair and his wife walked out of Number 10 for the last time and the "Anyone but Blair" shift in the opinion polls was anticipated.  While Gordon Brown enjoyed his honeymoon my own party managed to create for itself a couple of dreadful political months that exacerbated the swing to Labour and it is certainly true to say that June and July belonged to the Government and not to the opposition in spite of some available wide open goals.

Added to this probably fickle encouragement is the fact that Gordon Brown knows better than anyone the parlous state of the economy.  House repossessions are terrifyingly on the cards again as mortgage rates rise and fixed-interest contracts expire and those of us in Parliament who have lived through this truly awful experience once know exactly how politically damaging that can be.

There must, as chickens wait just over the horizon before coming home to roost, be a considerable temptation to cut and run while the going is reasonably firm. It is not going to get better for Brown and it is likely to get a whole lot worse.

But if June and July belonged to the Government then August has belonged to David Cameron.  As the Conservative party's commissions have delivered on recommendations and clear policies on law and order, immigration, health and education and other public services emerge it is clear who is now once again making the running.

Gordon Brown is desperate not to hold a referendum on the draft European Constitutional Treaty. An Autumn election will provide the British public to create, by default, such a referendum.  That public also knows that in reality there has been no change of government.  The present Prime Minister has been at the very heart of the woes of the National Health Service, the failings in education, the decisions that have denied our troops in Iraq the equipment, in timely fashion, that they have so desperately needed. The breakdown in law and order and the rise in anti-social behaviour.   He, above all, has sown the seeds of our economic wind and must therefore reap the whirlwind to come.

These are the thoughts that will keep the Big Organ Grinder awake at night.  October? November? May 2008? Or see the term right through, lose and retire with three Prime Ministerial years under his belt? A hard one to call.

My own advice?  Bring it on, Gordon.  But we're ready for you and the arguments are on our side!

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