Friday, August 07, 2009

What if Gordon Brown had called an election in 2007?

Here's another one from the alternative history files:

October 2007, Gordon Brown decides to call a General Election. The campaign is a total and utter disaster for Labour, and exposes Brown's many deficiencies as a campaigner. The Tories win in marginal constituency after marginal constituency and the election result ends up with the Tories as the largest party, though still short of an overall majority. Newspaper commentators mock Gordon Brown as a failure and write about how wonderful David Cameron is.

2007-9: The Tories implement their two policies by cutting inheritance tax and introducing workfare. While struggling to come up with some other policies, they preside over the collapse of the economy (including the failure of at least one major bank) and sky-rocketing unemployment. Gordon Brown stays on as leader of the Labour Party.

May 2008: With Labour still in disarray, the local elections see gains for the Tories, but Ken Livingstone is narrowly re-elected as Mayor of London. The Lisbon treaty is rejected in a referendum landslide.

March 2009: Tory government falls after they are defeated over their budget which attempts to slash public spending in order to reduce the deficit.

June 2009: General Election called for the same day as the European elections. Labour campaigns on Gordon Brown vs George Osborne's record on the economy plus attacking the Tories for favouring the rich, increasing unemployment and cutting public services. With many Tory voters staying at home, and others switching to UKIP, Labour wins a solid majority. Newspaper commentators mock David Cameron as a failure and write about how wonderful Gordon Brown is.


At 7:25 am , Blogger Paulie said...

Not sure I buy this one, Don? This wouldn't happen: "Gordon Brown stays on as leader of the Labour Party."

Also, Labour voters would switch to UKIP as well in bigger numbers than I suspect you're allowing for?

At 8:01 pm , Blogger Quietzapple said...

Labour would most likely have won a narrow majority in 2007.

A poll reported on ConsHome in June gave this:

'The only serious caution for David Cameron comes with a question that forces voters to choose between Labour or the Conservatives: "44 per cent would still prefer a Labour government and 42 per cent a Conservative one. This is despite 72 per cent dissatisfaction with Labour."

'Tim Montgomerie'

There are other good signs, which suggest that the current situation is as strange as the 10 or so years honeymoon Labour had from 1997.

At 8:03 pm , Blogger Quietzapple said...

JUNE 2009, Despair NOT!

At 10:43 am , Anonymous tim f said...

I don't buy this one, either. Too many variables.

I do agree that the result in 2007 would've been the Tories as largest party, possibly in a hung parliament. I think Brown would've been ridiculed for calling an election he didn't need to fight and losing it, and he would've moved on. Judging by the most recent set of internal elections we've had, he would've been replaced by Harriet Harman.

Of course, Thatcher presided over the collapse of the economy (without a global recession), sky-rocketing unemployment and savage cuts to public services. I don't competely buy the maxim that "oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them" - oppositions have to at least be credible with the electorate, and we don't know whether the circumstances of losing an election, Brown going and the internal wrangles that would follow would leave Labour in a place to be a credible government or not.

Most importantly, just when ordinary people needed a Labour government the most, we wouldn't be in power. To me that would've counted as desertion. Better two more years and the possibility of losing big, than losing by less and not being in power.

One alternative scenario would be:

Oct 2007 election results in Labour having a Wilsonesque majority. Labour & Gordon Brown stay in power, but considerably weakened. We narrowly fail to get a stimulus budget through and call another election. The Tories win big and use the immediate political capital they have from the election to introduce a new budget, cutting deep and refusing to offer any help to ordinary people at all, resulting in unemployment well over 4 million before the end of 2009 and pushing towards 5 million in 2010, in a longer and more severe recession.

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