Will Brown call March 25 election after GDP boost?
The Mole: here are three reasons why it makes sense - starting with MORI poll
Is Gordon Brown about to call the general election early? Not May 6, as has been confidently predicted, not even April 15, as some have forecast, but March 25, four weeks from now? The idea has been gaining ground overnight after the political blogger Guido Fawkes posted what he claimed was a strong rumour that BBC political staff have been told not to go away this weekend, suggesting an election announcement from Number Ten today.
Three quick reasons why it makes sense:
First, a new MORI poll published today puts the Tory lead over Labour at only five points. This is the magical figure Gordon Brown's aides have been waiting for. A six-point lead gives the Tories the most seats in a hung parliament. Five points - if replicated in the actual vote - would give Labour the greater number of seats. Brown would need a pact, if not a full coalition agreement, but he would be in the driving seat.
The MORI poll - in today's Daily Telegraph - is a real stinker for the Tories even if, as some experts claim, MORI surveys are vulnerable to sample variation because they don't 'weight' their polls the way others do.
Second, there was better-than-expected news this morning on the economic front. Official figures show Britain came out of recession in the final quarter of 2009 with growth of 0.3 per cent - well up on the miserable 0.1 per cent estimated a month ago and also ahead of the 0.2 per cent expected by markets.
The temptation to jump on this good news would be understandable: other indicators say there is only bad news to come.
Jim Rogers, former business partner of George Soros and one of the world's leading financiers, said yesterday sterling was a potential "basket case".
And the European commission says Britain is one of Europe's weakest prospects as far as future growth is concerned. Brussels now expects the UK economy to grow by 0.6 per cent this year, compared with a previous forecast of 0.9 per cent.
Third, March 25 would mean no Darling Budget. (If Labour can pull off a victory, a quick reshuffle on March 26 will remove Alistair from Number 11.) Avoiding a Budget is one way of dealing with the impasse between the PM and his Chancellor over whether it should be an austerity Budget (Darling's desire) or an electioneering Budget (Brown's belief).
Incidentally, Bullygate is clearly not an issue for voters. As the Mole has predicted, it's been fun for political columnists but has had little impression on the public. An opinion survey showed Brown is seen as a bully by 24 per cent, but as "tough" by 27 per cent and "passionate" by 28 per cent.
Is March 25 really a runner? We'll know soon enough. ·
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