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Monday, February 14, 2005

 

The guessing game

Everyone seems to think that the general election will be on Thursday 5th May, but when would the election date be announced?

An interesting
post on Anthony Wells's excellent UK Polling Report blog argues that the timing of the royal wedding, scheduled for Friday 8th April, places the government in a dilemma.

If the General Election is to be held on May 5th, Parliament must be dissolved and the writ for the General Election issued on Monday 11th April. Normally the Government will leave a day or two spare between announcing the election and the dissolution to tie up loose ends and push through bits of legislation. The date of the royal wedding means the government has a choice of announcing the General Election prior to the wedding and having the wedding during the campaign, announcing it immediately afterwards and losing all the legislation that is before the House or holding the election prior to April 8th.
Speculation continues on the subsequent posting but I cannot believe that Tony Blair is a hapless victim of events.

It is inconceivable that Blair was not consulted by the royal family about the wedding date or that he could not have argued for a different date had he wished. It actually helps Blair to introduce new confusing factors that will keep the opposition guessing.

The significance of the wedding date is not any power it may have to change Blair's plans, but rather the clues it provides about what Blair has already planned.

Given that the wedding will, by royal standards, be a relatively low key affair, I doubt it will affect the date of the announcement or the election itself, assuming Blair has already opted for 5th May. The chief advantage of 5th May, that it would coincide with local elections that must happen in any case, is a compelling reason for Blair to stick to Plan A.

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