So Britain will not, Gordon Brown has decided, have a General Election a mere two years after the previous one. Though opinion polls suggested that New Labour’s vote might be up from the 35 percent trough of 2005, many marginals in the Midlands and South could fall to the Tories. Higher numbers of working class people in the cities and in the north voting Labour are of minimal value to Brown in Britain’s democracy.
Brown’s dithering is met by the rank hypocrisy of the Tories. For Brown to call an election after two years with a working majority, Malcolm Rifkind tells us, would be a constitutional outrage. Cameron meanwhile says the decision not to call an election is cowardice and a fraud on the electorate.
There is a principle here. Just as the system of voting (first past the post, proportional representation) is not switched backwards and forwards to suit the whim of the Prime Minister, so the timing of an election should be free of immediate political calculation. Citizens should have a right to expect an election at regular fixed intervals, not when it suits those in power to hold them.