Brown moves towards 6 May election

Wednesday 10 March 2010 12:57

A 6 May general election is "practically inevitable" and a "no-brainer", political commentators said today as Gordon Brown confirmed 24 March as Budget day.

Holding the general election on 6 May would save money and the efforts of activists as it coincides with local elections in England, according to experts.

The move could also help Labour, whose success depends to a "massive extent" on getting its core vote out, one opinion pollster said.

"The people who are in the demographic groups who are most likely to vote Labour at the moment are more than twice as likely to say that they won't vote as people in the higher income brackets," said Andrew Hawkins, executive chairman of ComRes, the research and polling organisation.

"If you take the Labour seats where the incumbents have been caught out in the expenses scandal and they are trying to clear their name, they need all the votes that they can possibly get.

"The best way to do that is to coincide with the local elections."

He added: "It seems inconceivable that a decision on any day other than 6 May would be at all defensible, not least for the Labour activists who would otherwise be required to canvass for two elections, and, of course, the cost of running an election at a different time from the general election.

"I have confirmed my hotel reservation for 6 May in central London."

He added that the publication of first-quarter growth figures in the last fortnight of the campaign for a 6 May general election could prove crucial.

"In all the polling we are doing publicly and privately, the economy is the number one issue," he said.

Peter Kellner, president of the YouGov polling organisation, said he believed a 6 May general election date, the same day as the local elections, was now "practically inevitable" and a "no-brainer".

He added that he did not believe Chancellor Alistair Darling would set out "anything particularly new" in measures concerning taxation in his Budget.

"The political part of the Budget will be about public spending and making a case for saying that Labour's economic strategy will bring the deficit down in an orderly manner without creating damage to the public services," he said.

He added that if growth figures for the first quarter of the year - to be released in late April - showed a "double dip", this would be bad for Labour.

Figures showing "fragile" recovery would perhaps be the best outcome for Labour, he said, as voters might decide that changing the Government would imperil this, he said.

Political blogger Iain Dale, a Conservative candidate at the last election, said a 6 May date would be a gamble.

"People will have the full effects of tax rises which come into force in April. They will look at their wage packets at the end of April which will be a lot lighter than at the end of March," he said.

"Also the GDP figures will come out... who knows what the political consequences of that could be? It is a risky date, but, frankly, they cannot afford to have two separate elections because they are bankrupt."

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