Today is the day that Gordon Brown was going to have an election, but only if he was sure that he was going to win it. We had a good conference, he made that crass visit to Iraq and the rest is history.
What would have happened if he hadn’t have called it off?
Firstly I don’t think he would have called it straight away either. He would have ummed and ahhed a bit longer, maybe a week. By this time the cries for an election would have become deafening. MPs and candidates in marginal seats would have started their operations and the election would have begun in all but name.
Then the poll results would have come out but Brown would realise that despite the poor results it was too late to call the election off. The Conservatives and the media would say that Brown had been bounced into an election he didn’t want.
The big story for the first few days would have been the stamp duty and inheritance tax policies announced at conference by George Osborne. Labour initially dismissive of these plans then announced plans for a £600,000 joint threshold on inheritance tax. Alister Darling is savaged by Paxman on Newsnight, the interview is widely covered in the papers and other broadcast media.
During the campaign period Brown and the shadow cabinet appear regularly on the media but don’t seem to be on at the top of their games. Cameron, Osborne, Hague, Davis, Fox and Gove all seem much more comfortable during their policy announcements.
Somehow the government looks and sounds more like an opposition party, the Conservatives look increasingly like a party ready for government. The Lib Dems don’t seem to be making the most of their increased airtime, Campbell looks completely out of his depth and the other spokesmen/women keep commenting outside their briefs. It is clear that they are positioning themselves for the post election leadership battle.
A few candidates from each of the major parties make mistakes that embarrass their respective leaderships and there are some surprise retirements but none of these deflect much from the main story. Labour is clearly going to lose the election. All the media speculation is about how bad a night it will be for them, the more the speculation the worse the polls.
On election night the picture slowly becomes clear. Various Labour supporting pundits (John Reid, Derrick Draper) say that unless the Conservatives have a 30+ majority it will be a bad night for them. The Conservative supporting voices (Mathew Paris, Michael Portillo) say that a small majority or a hung parliament is the best that the Conservatives can hope for.
In the end the Labour vote holds up better than expected (by either party), indeed in some of their heartland seats their share of vote increases. But in the key marginals they are broken. The South East of England becomes virtually Labour free and London is a Conservative city. The swing away from Labour in the Midlands is the most pronounced and a number of suburban seats in the North become Conservative too.
The Lib Dems don’t pick up a single new seat and they suffer badly in the South West. They lose the bulk of their seats to the Conservatives but Labour take some solace in the fact that they got some back too.
High profile Labour scalps include: Ruth Kelly, Tom McNulty and Jaqui Smith. The Lib Dems lose: Julia Goldsworthy, Lynne Featherstone (to Labour), Evan Harris, Nick Clegg (doing a very good impression of Michael Portillo on election night), Vince Cable and David Laws.
Labour claim that it is all because of Lord Ashcroft’s money and the Conservatives say that it is because of Brown’s inability to show leadership, poor track record and a strong set of Conservative policies.
The final count shows……………
Well it wouldn’t be any fun if I gave that away would it? Please feel free to tell me what you think the result would have been and any thing that you think would have happened differently.