Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Election date clues
For those of you who like reading the runes, examining the tea leaves or poking around in the chicken entrails, today brings another clue about the date of the general election.
Gordon Brown has announced that the budget will be on Wednesday 16th March. That would rule out a snap election on Thursday 7th April (the day before the royal wedding) because parliament would have to be dissolved before the budget date.
The government then needs parliamentary time to pass its Finance Bill, if only a shortened bill, making an election on 14th, 21st or 28th April highly unlikely though theoretically possible.
If the election is on the widely predicted date of Thursday 5th May, the latest date that parliament could be dissolved is Monday 11th April, although the announcement is likely to be shortly before that, to allow the government time to tie up loose ends of parliamentary business.
Talking of the budget, I was amused to read in the BBC's report this stern warning:
As Mr Brown announced the Budget date in a short ministerial statement, accountancy firm Ernst & Young urged him to put politics aside and focus on the long-term requirements of the economy.Fat chance.
"In the Budgets that were given immediately before the last six elections, taxes were cut by the incumbent chancellor and, in many cases, taxes were increased soon after the election result," said Aidan O'Carroll, E&Y's UK head of tax.Surely not.