While we’re talking about the PBR, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there could be a couple of advantages for Labour in going for a March election. Iain Martin thinks, on the basis of the PBR, that this is precisely what Labour are gearing up for. The main reason for believing this is what the PBR was not – it was not a serious attempt to deal with our current spending crisis. Not only were there no significant immediate cuts to public spending (which can be portrayed as a reasonable policy – no cuts before recovery and all that), but there were no plans set out for cuts in the future either. It really was a case of ducking the issue.
Labour are like drivers in a 24 hour rally whose car is coming apart around them. They are just desperately hoping that they can keep it together long enough to get over the finish line. What happens to the car afterwards doesn’t seem to worry them too much.
So the last thing they want to have to do is present a full budget, where questions over actual numbers will be much harder to duck. Anyway, by April the figures of 2010 Q1 will be out, and it would be virtually fatal for Labour were they to show a dip back into recession. Go early, and you can avoid all this. You can see why it’s tempting. Against this is the residual cowardice (or, to be fairer, risk averse nature) of Gordon Brown. Something might turn up. The polls could just get better. Lets not face reality just yet… And the polls have been narrowing. Labour’s core vote does seem to be hardening. The Tories are getting a little jittery. Perhaps one more push?