Michael Savage: Snap election decision that could make or break Labour

A March poll would see voters turning out before tax increases kick in

The last time the Government entertained the idea of holding a snap election, it ended in disaster as Gordon Brown's last-minute decision to call it off left him facing accusations of dithering, while his party lost a gilt-edged chance of securing a majority.

Yet despite the débâcle of the 2007 autumn election that never was, improving poll results and the prospect of some good news on the economy has put talk of an early poll back on the agenda within the Labour Party.

Party chiefs have told No 10 that they are prepared for a quick decision to go to the electorate. The Prime Minister has also been rallying the troops, telling a private meeting of candidates in key seats recently that they needed to have their election material ready by the end of January. The activity has not gone unnoticed. Last week, one of Britain's biggest bookmakers suspended betting on a 25 March election after receiving some unusually big wagers.

Cabinet ministers still talk about an election for 6 May, which remains the most likely date, and senior Labour sources maintained last night that there was "no reason to think" that a March election was likely. But a number of MPs, especially those in marginal constituencies, are pushing for an early election as the factors in favour of a March ballot mount.

Holding the election six weeks early would give Mr Brown several advantages. His team hope official figures released in January will show Britain has emerged from the recession, allowing Labour to argue its fiscal stimulus package rescued the country from a protracted depression. Waiting until May risks scuppering that advantage should the next statistics, released in April, reveal that economic recovery has slowed.

A March poll would see voters turning out before tax increases kick in, such as a 50p top rate on earnings over £150,000. It would also help Labour avoid holding an austerity Budget, during which the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, would come under huge pressure to reveal the programmes that will be cut to reduce Britain's record deficit. Mr Brown would have the added advantage of avoiding the criticism that he was being forced to hold an election.

Closing polls have chimed with what many MPs have found on the doorstep. "Morale is much better in the party than just a few months ago," the former Europe minister Denis MacShane told The Independent. "I've told everyone locally to think about March as a possible election date. In the end, it is a very difficult decision." Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP in the marginal constituency of Islington South and Finsbury, also backed a March poll, saying she believed her party's vote was "hardening" in recent weeks.

However, some senior Labour figures believe that holding an early election to avoid a Budget would open the party up to accusations of cowardice and dishonesty. While there would not be much scope for major spending announcements, some would be unwilling to throw away the chance to come up with some eye-catching and popular measures.

The Conservatives were on the offensive yesterday over the prospect of an early election. Having been caught cold in 2007, they are already clearing swaths of their next manifesto to make sure they are ready at short notice. Party chairman Eric Pickles also stayed in the country over the summer to prepare the party for an election fight.

David Cameron said that his party was "all systems go" for a 25 March election, which he described as "quite a likely date". "I certainly want an early election," he told Sky News. "We really need to get on with this. I hope the election can come as early in the New Year as possible." He said Mr Brown had lost the "moral authority" to govern.

Suggested Topics
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: National Commercial Manager - Buyer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This waste services provider is...

Recruitment Genius: IT Cloud Support Engineer

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a team player who likes...

Recruitment Genius: Skilled Machinist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of additional skilled machini...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game