Sunday, September 07, 2008

Good advise for who?

It appears on face value to be rather odd for an opposition leader, or the leader of any political party really, to comment or advise on the problems being faced by one of their opponents. Today's article in the Sunday Telegraph by David Cameron seems to do just that: “If Labour do get rid of Gordon Brown they cannot possibly get away with not holding an election. It would be quite outrageous to have two unelected PMs foisted on us one after the other. In my party we are prepared for that eventuality. We’ve had meetings of our general election planning committee. So I say to the Labour Party, the Foreign Secretary and everyone included – make up your mind – back the guy or sack the guy. Behaving as you are for the moment is bad for the country.” None of this is in any way new, many commentators have stated that a general election must be held if Brown is replaced, equally the back or sack argument has been voiced by many. But Cameron's final argument could be suggested to defend Brown's position.

However, there is a lot of sense to this statement. Firstly it positions Cameron as statesmanlike looking at what is best for the country as opposed to the divided Labour Party who are inwardly focused and perhaps focused on personal and not national advancement. Secondly the last thing Cameron wants is a short run up to an election with a new leader who may, though it is far from guaranteed, gain a bounce or honeymoon period as Major did in 1991/2 and Brown all that time ago (it seems). Therefore it is reasonable to suggest Cameron wants the leadership battle to be over if it is going to happen at all and hope any new leader would try and hold out to 2010 when an election must be held. The final aspect to this, and perhaps is rather cynical, is that Brown is a far easier opponent given his current poor standing in the polls. He seems to be almost universally perceived as a weak performer and perhaps a poor leader. But will Cameron's advise be heeded? Well if Labour strategists and machinators read the article they may think the same way as me but also try to assess what the best option is, carry on with Brown and hope things get better, replace him and run the risk of losing all support due to not having an election while also finding the new leader cannot reverse fortunes, or simple resign themselves to defeat and hope Cameron will be a one-term wonder and they can get a new leader to replace him by 2015. Don't look at me for an answer, public opinion is far too fickle to predict and the media will play a huge role in determining the fortunes of any of the party leaders, there are lots of risks but currently it seems Cameron faces few prior to the next general election being called.

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