Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is Brown tricking the Tories into panic-spending?

With all this election fever being helped along by irresponsible bloggers there is news this morning in the Times this morning that the Conservative Party has authorised a poster campaign for next week. According to the report it is designed to "neutralise Labour claims that Mr Cameron has no substance and does not believe in anything".

This does make sense I think, after all, there have been a number of official announcements that have amounted to policy statements, the problem has been that on matters, for example like tax, the position has very much been "wait and see" and that is what has been given more prominence than anything else in some respects.

This said, spending lots of money on a poster campaign could be a dangerous thing to do as well if Brown is simply spinning CCHQ into panic-driven action. Assuming my understanding is correct, there are national expediture limits for elections by parties under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
A political party which contests all the seats in the United Kingdom for election to the Commons is able to spend £19.77m. The limit for parties contesting seats in Great Britain only is £19.23m. These limits apply for 365 days before the date of the election.
That 365 day period could be crucial. The rules are weighted in the favour of the Prime Minister as only he can know when he will go to the country, and he can also know how much money he has spent so far. An Opposition, in comparison has to be careful, because if what it does can be seen as election campaign spending then it could find itself caught short.

So, if the current fever of speculation is wrong, but the Tories spend lots of money on campaign material, they could find their spending capability limited if Brown then calls an election early next spring. All this rumour and speculation may very well just be a means of making the Tories panic-spend to reduce their ability when the real time comes. Even if what they;re spending now is exempt fromt he rule, it still drains the kitty a little.


Chris Paul said...

Have been saying this for some time. Brown is pulling their chains brilliantly.

Still looking to June 2009 myself. 100 weeks.

May/June next year is a good hedge and would help turn round a good few Town Halls.

Unknown said...

Whatever Brown's doing, he's doing it right. The tories have gone running back to the same old promises of lower taxation and immigration controls and all the rest which have failed miserably in general elections since 1992. It's looking to me like we're going to be facing another five years of Labour unless something changes drastically.

I don't really like the Conservative Party, it must be said, but a political system becomes ineffective when there's no real opposition. The Tories must, absolutely must, find their way or it'll be the worse for all of us whether we support them or not.

Mountjoy said...

Labour is trying to trick the Tories into spending lots of money. Labour accuses the Tories of trying to trick people into believing there's going to be an election called next week (and, as you say, the Times reports that there'll be no poll announcement).

Brown is the man who has tried to trick the electorate, for example with his 'reducing income tax from 22p to 20p in the pound' scam. It would be justice if he himself gets tricked by opinion polls.

Brown will go for next year, unless the economy goes down [and, therefore, the opinion polls turn against him big time], so he'll have to wait longer...

Who did this before? Jim Callaghan? John Major?

Donal Blaney said...

Some of that spending cap can be swallowed up by others who back parties informally such as unions or groups like the Midlands Industrial Council. The law is badly phrased and can easily be circumvented.

Anonymous said...

The spending cap can also be manipulated by an incumbent government by running lots of "public information" TV ads, promoting things like tax credits, NHS recruitment and teacher training. Add this to the PM deciding the timing of an election, and the pro-Labour bias built in to first-past-the-post, and we're looking at another five years of Brown, no matter when he sends us to the polls.

Tapestry said...

Play and double play. The SNP are praying that Brown goes to the country in October while they are on a high. Cameron might have done his sums and believes he can rely on the SNP and the BNP to erode labour's majority, and his surge in the South and Midlands will fly him into Downing Street.

Whatever's going on, the media are taking cameron seriously. He's got The Sun backing his campaign for a referendum on the EU Constitution, and is building his position all the time. Ashcroft's taken the reins at CCHQ and likes spending money on leaflets and poster campaigns. A few posters never hurt anyone - as far as I know.

Tapestry said...

Labour are looking less sure in wales as well as Scotland.