There’s been much speculation circulating over the past few days that the Tories – and Labour – are preparing for an early election on March 25th. This could be a media ploy by the Tories to try and motivate complacent activists, or it may just be newspapers filling column inches as Christmas approaches.
But it is now being discussed as a serious proposition around Westminster and amongst lobby journalists. David Cameron today called it a “likely date” for an election, and Ray Collins, Labour’s General Secretary, is reported to have told Number 10 that the party machine is ready to go.
I think an ballot on any day other than May 6th would be the wrong move for two main reasons. First – and most importantly – with council elections already mandated for May 6th, the cost of holding two elections within 6 weeks of each other would be excessive – and would be deemed to be excessive by the public.
The second, related, reason is that an election on any other date would dramatically reduce voter turnout for the local council elections – and after the decimation of Labour’s council position last June, that would be very unhelpful to Labour Groups who are battling to maximise support.
So unless the May 6th council elections were also brought forward, which would be difficult to do at this late stage, it would be seen as a crude and unnecessary move which wouldn’t play well with either grassroots activists or the wider electorate.