Is Blair really thinking of a February General Election

October 31st, 2004

Betfair General Election Date Market – Jan-March 2005

There’s been a lot of activity on the election date markets following reports in the Sunday Times that Tony Blair is thinking of going to the country in February – not the 05/05/05 that everybody has been predicting.

The above Betfair price chart shows the price fluctuations but it’s now settled down. Full prices here.

Certainly there has been a good run of opinion polls for Labour taking the party out of the low 30s where they had been languishing for months. The polls include:
CON 33% LAB 39% LD 17% UKIP 4%. Communicate Research – Independent.
CON 32% LAB 36%, LD 22% UKIP 5%. YouGov – Telegraph
CON 31% LAB 37%, LD 23%. UKIP 4% – ICM Guardian

In spite of all the splits and rows about who should be leader UKIP continues to impose serious damage on the Tories. There is an argument for Labour to go while the going is good. Tony Blair does not need reminding, however, that the last February election, in 1974, saw Edward Heath’s Tories fail to win a majority and Harold Wilson returning to Number 10. From a practical standpoint an election when the evening are long is likely to depress turnout which could hinder Labour.

Some other figures that Tony Blair might like to ponder:-
1992 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 9-10%
1997 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 3.5%
2001 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 6.6%

In a General Election situation where Tony Blair could be accused of “cutting and running” it only requires the UKIP dimension to evaporate a bit and you have a completely different ball game.

We are not convinced.

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