Voters will judge us on substance – Rupa Huq guest post
11 October, 2007
Now that the dust has settled on seven days that surely prove Harold Wilson’s maxim “a week is a long time in politics”, I think it can be concluded that the non-election was always a bit of a non-issue. There is a temporary sense of indignation from some sections of the media (namely the Tory Press and both ITN and Sky who were not privy to the Andrew Marr interview) but actual voters will judge on substance not froth the next time we go to the polls. The way that some commentators have been hyperventilating you’d have thought an election had been called and the PM went back on his word.
As any A-level politics student knows, the usual reason for governments historically to hold elections in between their normal terms is when the government needs a working Commons majority to get its legislative business through – like October 1974 for example. Interestingly this time round it was older figures such as Neil Kinnock with longer memories who were urging caution all along. In 1970 Harold Wilson buoyed up by favourable polls called an election early and ended up having his Commons majority of nearly 100 wiped out in his shock defeat to the Conservatives. This time round, with a healthy majority of 66 won at the last election there never was any need for Brown to go to the polls before 2010 if he plays out things to their maximum duration. Indeed not only was there no constitutional need but all recent opinion polls, whatever figures they came up with, have demonstrated that the public has no appetite to be bounced into an election campaigning for weeks on end when the last time it all happened was just the year before last.
As for arguments made by some folk to hold the election now because the economy might get worse, surely governments should be able to govern however choppy economic waters are. Alistair’s Darling statement this week showed that matters such as inheritance tax are being addressed and I have every confidence that Brown’s government will be able to ride out whatever crises come next as it has shown itself able to do since taking office. With a reinvigorated Conservative Party under Cameron it looks as though politics just got more interesting and that the next General Election whenever it may be promises to be an interesting fight in-store.