Sunday, 14 February 2010

Two Elections in 2010?

I love all the talk of potential coalitions because it refines the dividing lines between the parties and shows that agreement is both possible and often necessary to move forward.

But an interesting by-line in the Guardian report on Nick Clegg setting out his main conditions (since you're asking:
  • Investing extra funds in education through a pupil premium for disadvantaged children.
  • Tax reform, taking 4 million out of tax and raising taxes on the rich by requiring capital gains and income to be taxed at the same rate.
  • Rebalancing of the economy to put less emphasis on centralised banking and more on a new greener economy.
  • Political reforms, including changes to the voting system and a democratically elected Lords, that go further than proposed by Labour)
is that David Cameron is already making preparations for an autumn election.

How serious this claim is is open to question, but I think it is reasonable, although not necessarily a primary thought.

Nevertheless it does throw up some interesting issues highlighting the precarious nature of current state of affairs both at large and internally for the tories.

Not David Cameron, obviously!

Firstly, it is blindingly obvious that the odds on the Conservatives becoming the largest party are lengthening as Brown becomes more assertive internally and the negativity at PMQs turns against the leader of the official opposition, but - more worryingly - it suggests Cameron's lack of policy is starting to bite as it shows him to have a weak foundation as leader. He faces a choice: he can either appeal to the population or he can appeal to his party. He can do one or other, but he can't do both (or at least, not simultaneously).

So far Cameron has been walking a tightrope desperately trying not to alienate one or other, but the longer it goes on without an election the more difficult he is finding it.

Even if he makes it into number 10 he will have a struggle on his hands - if he doesn't have a workable majority this could weaken his position, but on the other hand if he gains a majority which is seen as secure this will enbolden the more ideologically inclined of his backbenchers to become more outspoken.

Ultimately his aim will be to secure his powerbase, which he has so far done by reaching out to less traditional support groups. But come election time he will depend on the MPs in his ranks and he will have a tough task of calling them to heel.

So while the more tribal animals will still be calling for him to push the pedal to the metal and do all he can to tip the scales it may well be working in his personal interest to ease off slightly to give himself some breathing space for when he has to reshuffle the pack and purge any internal threats.

That said, if Gordon Brown squeaks home by any margin, barring ill-health, it'll be five years until the next general election.


Update: The Mole has an interesting take on Clegg's 'shopping list' for any deal, and it includes a demand that George Osborne will not be Chancellor of the Exchequer in any Cameron Cabinet.


Alan Douglas said...

"Cameron's lack of policy."

That lefty mob can't have it both ways - while constantly claiming that the Tories have no policies, they are busy nicking self-same policies and then distorting them.

Perhaps it should be "The Tories have no policies that we haven't stolen from them" ?

Alan Douglas

adjd said...

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