It’s so good to be back.
My little Blackberry was as hot as toast in my hand on Friday night. Lots of will he/won’t he text messages from colleagues all wondering whether or not GB will call a general election.
Given the level of interest, and the state of affairs in Iraq, I thought I could do no better today than re-post a blog from just before I went on holiday. Every word still stands as true today as it did then.
It also has the added bonus of reminding Nick Robinson that he said I was talking tosh. Oh please let GB call the election and enable me to get one over Nick!
I had the great pleasure whilst I was on holiday of telephoning one of the young men in my constituency who was on his way to serve his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Harry, better known as H, is now ‘un-contactable’ via his mobile to friends and family.
He was more than mildly surprised, and delighted, to hear it was me on the end of his phone. The conversation descended into laughter on a number of occasions as I kept referring to the Royal Anglians , as the Royal Anglicans. Well, it’s all God’s army I suppose!!
I am making it a policy to speak to as many serving soldiers from my constituency as I can, as they embark upon a tour of duty, and inviting them down to the House of Commons for lunch when they return. I want to hear a birds eye account of what’s happening on the ground and I also want to show my appreciation for what they are doing.
They are very brave, each and every one of them. Harry is 20 years old and about to work in one of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world. God speed his safe return.
My previous blog:
Reasons to be cheerful, 1..2..3…
Posted Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 14:49
Last night I went to an awards dinner and was seated on the same table as the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson. The conversation veered towards, will he/won’t he go for an October election. In Nick’s words, my assertion that the PM will almost definitely go for an autumn election is ‘tosh’.
I tried to convince myself on the way home that Nick is right and I am wrong. Didn’t work – every bone in my body yells September/October, and here, in a bit more detail than last time, is why.
The economic future for voters is dodgy. Personal indebtedness is higher than we have ever known it before. Some of those who are fortunate enough to own their own homes, have little equity left in their property. Borrowing against home equity is OK, as long as the property market remains buoyant. We have just seen another interest rate rise, another is on the way, and there may be more - people are really beginning to feel the squeeze.
Giving authority to the Bank of England to set interest rates may appear to Gordon Brown to have been a good idea ten years ago, I can’t help wondering whether or not the PM thinks he may have shot himself in the foot; a political lever, pulled by many a Chancellor over the years for political advantage, has gone. The measure so astutely put in place to remove him from any blame in the past, may end up frustrating him hugely in the future.
Many are predicting a property market crash in the New Year. This has been on the cards, as it always is in an overheated market, for some time, however, supply outstripping demand has forestalled this catastrophe, until now.
The main argument at the table last night, which included other eminent journalists, Peers, oh, and I almost forgot, the political commentator, Iain Dale (joke Iain, thanks by the way) was that Gordon Brown has wanted this so badly and waited for so long that he isn’t going to take the chance. I would argue that he isn’t going to take the risk of only being the PM for two years. He is very well aware that if he waits two years, the likelihood of him being re-elected with a workable majority will erode, month by month as people begin to tire of his dourness and seriousness.
In a political world that is more image conscious than ever before, Gordon Brown just doesn’t cut the ice when it comes to charisma, personality or charm.
Going for an Autumn General Election will not be taking a risk; it is in fact the safer option.
A head of steam is beginning to build, driven largely by the vote in the House of Representatives in the US, to withdraw troops from Iraq. A catastrophic move which would have devastating consequences, however, as with most things, the idea is beginning to catch on over here.
The American elections are just over a year away (as in term times). A Democrat victory is likely; they already have control of Congress and are pushing for troop withdrawal. American opinion wants the boys – and girls – home - both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are plugged right into that opinion. Hillary has said “It is time for us to move our troops out of harms way in the middle of the Iraqi civil war”. (Hillary voted for the war by the way.)
Now, Gordon Brown has one big vote winner, one policy announcement likely to push him through the 40% poll barrier, which is to announce the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. If he waits and makes such an announcement after the next American Presidential elections - whoever that may be – wouldn’t that make him look like a poodle?
Knowing Gordon Brown, don’t you think that if Tony was seen to follow Bush, he may wish to be seen as the one to lead Clinton/ Obama? Whereas Tony could be portrayed as a man who took us into a war with less than honour or truth, Brown could be portrayed as the man who saved our troops and took us out.
Welcome back! I hope you had a good break. Last time you posted your blog on the subject of an autumn election, I sided with Nick Robinson. Despite all the valid points in favour of an early call, I thought Gordon Brown's honeymoon period would last longer than you anticipated - his 'dourness' currently being an asset rather than a liability. However, now that he has signalled the start of a withdrawal from Iraq I think the cards are stacked much more in your favour. We'll see, eh. I thoroughly support your intent to speak at length to members of the forces about to serve, or having completed service, in Iraq. Anything that leads to a wider understanding, especially amongst MPs, of what they face has to be a good thing.
"I am making it a policy to speak to as many serving soldiers" - Does that include Airman and Sailors embarking on tours?