Don’t forget today is cut-off day!
If Brown doesn’t announce his resignation today then there cannot be a contested Labour leadership election pre GE (as the Budget acts as blocker).
Looking back at his previous comments I found his reasoning here:
If anyone wants to get rid of him...Friday 22 January is the cut-off point.
The reason is that it is inconceivable that Labour could present a Budget (approx 3 weeks before the GE would be called) without a permanent leader in place.
Whatever people say about accelerating the process, including time for nominations at the start and a Special Conference at the end the Leadership election is going to take 5 weeks minimum.
Now guess what Brown has just done? Surprise surprise he’s holding a big summit at the end of January which blocks off the chance of a challenge before then.
Looking back at the last few months he’s been very clever - he spaces out “blocking events” eg Glasgow by-election, Queens Speech, PBR, Copenhagen because he knows nobody can challenge him in the few weeks before a blocking event. So if there is never more than a 4 to 5 week gap he can never be challenged. Now he’s done it again with this summit he’s just called.
Which lead me to look at the dates:
- Brown hosts a London Conference on Afghan security on 28th January.
- The earliest a budget can be held is 9th March due to the three month rule with the PBR, which was 9th December last year. That's just over 5 weeks from the 28th, and would also rule out a March election.
- For a 6th May election, the writ for dissolution of Parliament would be 12th April again just over five weeks from a 9th March budget.
- For June 3rd, the last conceivable date, the writ would be 10th May, that is just under 9 weeks from a 9th March budget but of course no-one would know this until the 12th April deadline has passed which really makes it 4 weeks.
My view is that Brown will remain in place largely because of the ineptness of the plotters and there's no-one willing to take the hit for the likely defeat. But it's fascinating to see how Brown uses big events like this purely to save his own skin.
In some ways the ruthlessness of the man is rather impressive regarding his mastery of his own party's politics, the contrast with his complete lack of it when comes to running the country is astonishing though.
But whatever Brown does internally, judgment day's approaching rapidly and it still won't stop me celebrating with copious amounts of alcohol when he loses in May.