Saturday, 4 August 2007


It's not often that I recommend an opinion piece in a newspaper, but I'll make an exception for Martin Kettle's article in today's Guardian entitled "Don't do it, Gordon - that snap election is a siren song".

Whilst election day is fixed in the United States, in Britain polling day follows the dissolution of parliament by the Queen. She follows the advice of her Prime Minister (except in the exceptional circumstance when Parliament has not been dissolved, and it is the 5th anninversary of the first meeting of the Parliament, whereupon dissolution is automatic). A Prime Minister has the tremendous power (and responsibility) of selecting Election Day.

Rumours of an early election - perhaps even later this year! - have become louder. Gordon Brown has proved popular and the Tories appear in disarray.

The advantages of calling an election while your party is unchallenged in the polls are obvious. There has also been a campaign challenging the 'legitimacy' of Brown's premiership - since he was not the leader of the Labour Party at the time of the 2005 General Election. This campaign is in my view bogus. All precedents are against it - the legitimacy of Chamberlain; Churchill; Macmillan; Douglas-Home; Callaghan and Major was not undermined by the fact that they succeeded the election winning Premier without calling an immediate General Election! In any event, we do not directly elect the Prime Minister - the leader of the party with a majority in the House of Commons is invited to be the Prime Minister.

So should Gordon call an early election? Read Martin Kettle's article - and post your comments here.

Martin Kettle's piece can be found at