Those Labour MPs who are briefing the media – usually anonymously – that there should be a General Election next year to coincide with the local and European elections in June are – if they believe it – living on the Planet Zog. If they don’t, they are playing a very silly and dangerous game.
The Labour Party has seen a substantial improvement in its poll ratings compared with the Conservatives in the last six weeks or so. Indeed, the collapse in the Conservative lead has been as precipitous as was the collapse in the standing of the Prime Minister a year ago, following the “election-that-never-was”.
The reason for this improvement has been the decisive and magisterial response to the world economic crisis that has been displayed by Gordon Brown and the Cabinet since the beginning of October. That improvement has taken place because the Government has been seen as acting unequivocally in the national interest and not for partisan advantage. By contrast, the Conservatives have appeared shallow, unimpressive and self-serving.
Talking up an Election next June – apart from it being ludicrously premature – immediately starts to make the Labour Party look as preoccupied with short-term electoral calculations as the Tories. What is more with a crisis as serious as this, politicians should be concentrating on the national interest not being diverted by electoral campaigning.
So why have they been briefing? Don’t ask me – I can’t think of a single rational reason for doing it.