Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brown rules out October election

Nobody seems to have noticed it, but Gordon Brown has strongly suggested he’s not planning an October election.

In his Andrew Marr interview on Sunday, Brown batted away some opening questions about the prospects of a snap election. But later in the interview (about 47 mins in), Marr asked about any forthcoming troop withdrawals from Iraq. Brown replied:

I’m going to make a statement to the House of Commons when we return in October, and I want to set out to the House of Commons how we are moving in the provinces for which we have responsibility in Iraq from what you might call the combat role to one where the Iraqis themselves take over the responsibility for their own security…

Parliament returns on Monday 8 October. A prime minister has to allow 17 working days between seeking a dissolution and the election date. If Brown made his Iraq statement on this first day back, and then went to see the Queen that same day, then 17 working days later would be Thursday 1 November. Practically, though, that would be a really tight turn of events, so 8 November would be the earliest election date.

Of course, you might say that he could just not bother with the statement – but it’s politically important to him to be able to show that entanglement in Iraq is fading away as a political issue.

A popular date in the speculation has been 25 October, but making this statement would rule that out. Thereafter, the clocks go back and dark early evenings would increasingly hit turnout. A November election’s possible, but I doubt it.

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