It has been an unedifying sight to see the Prime Minister allow election fever to continue in the media and in Westminster when he could have snuffed it out weeks ago. His trip to Iraq during the Tory Party Conference was nothing but electioneering as illustrated by the announcement that he was bringing 1000 soldiers home, depite the fact that 500 of these had already been announced and 270 were already home. The following day he “opened” a new medical centre in Basildon that had, in fact, opened three months earlier.
He has now alienated many journalists as evidenced by ITN’s Daisy McAndrew telling viewers that GB had called his “pet interviewer” (Andrew Marr) into No. 10 to tell him that there would be no election. In this interview he assures us that he never meant to have an election all along and that the polls showing a 7% swing in a single week, had no bearing on his decision. These polls included one for the News of the World showing the Conservatives ahead in the marginal seats that will swing an election. He has spent the first 100 days trying to show himself as a Statesman, dealing with admittedly difficult situations such as the terror attacks, the floods and foot and mouth. However he has undone this work in a few crazy days, when he has shown that when push comes to shove, he is just another politico that wants to play party politics. Unlike the previous situations, his love of party politics meant that he found himself like a child in a sweet shop unable to resist the temptation.
Two things shine out from this debacle. Firstly, if the PM can treat the truth and therefore the public with such disdain and condescension what will he be doing when it comes to other serious state affairs. Secondly, he has confirmed what those in Westminster knew, that he is cautious to the point of losing his best opportunity to win. This happened in 1994 when he did not contest the Labour leadership after the untimely death on John Smith and haunted him through the Blair years. The Conservative Party now has plenty of time to complete its policy review and come up with a comprehensive plan for change over and above the excellent proposals for cutting Inheritance Tax and Stamp Duty. Things won’t be getting any better for Gordon.