Tories stir the pot on early election

There's been a lot of chatter on the Internet today about an early election. But there is no basis in the rumours which are being encourage by the Tories.

There’s been a lot of chatter on the Internet today about whether there’ll be an election on March 25th. But there is no basis in the rumours which are merely an attempt by Conservative HQ to drum up interest in their spring conference and paint the Prime Minister as a ditherer.

After the polls narrowed again last night, speculation increased of a March 25th election. At 9.33 this morning, Conservative Home editor Tim Montgomerie tweeted, “I’ve just been txted that Ladbrokes have suspended betting on March election”. An hour later, Iain Dale stirred the pot with an article titled “Is Brown Marching His Troops Up the Hill (Again)?” While at 11.20, Guido Fawkes wrote:

Gordon’s has never recovered from the election-that-never-was in Autumn 2007 because he allowed the speculation to go on too long. The Tories are secretly praying he holds off until May, as are the media whose well planned agendas would have been a total waste of time. Bookies have stopped taking bets on March 25th. If Gordon doesn’t make a move to confirm or quell the hype it will be Bottler Brown all over again.”

The mainstream media then picked up the thread with City AM political editor, David Crow, tweeting “Lots of rumours at Westminster that brown about to call an election. Top Tories have cancelled all meetings.” This was re-tweeted by Guardian Deputy Editor, Ian Katz who commented “That wd be inconvenient”.

But there are five reasons why we’re still heading for May 6th:

1. Announcing an election over the weekend would sabotage the passage of key pieces of Government legislation including Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill; the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill which includes provisions to set up the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and for a referendum on electoral reform; and the Child Poverty Bill which will entrench in law the Government’s commitment to eradicating child poverty by 2020.

2. The Labour party is carrying on as normal. This weekend they’re launching a clever social media tool called “Take a Long Hard Look at the Tories“. It’s the kind of thing that will excite Labour’s netroots and twitterati but is hardly election campaign launch material.

3. Council elections in London, all the metropolitan boroughs, and some unitary authorities will take place on May 6th regardless. Labour is hoping to win back many of the seats they lost in 2006 with the election increasing the turnout. The party would also struggle to fight two elections in six weeks.

4. Calling a March 25th election would result in criticism that Labour had avoided either both holding a Budget and facing the Q1 growth figures which come out in late April.

5. The Tories have been trying to stir it up. As well as Iain Dale’s intervention, Sam Coates from Tory social media team tweeted at lunch “The parliamentary rules on what happens when the election is called, if you’re interested:”

Now I may end up with egg on my face but my advice is: don’t believe the hype.

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