Labour election latest: late March date ‘best way to defuse Brown/Darling split’


A further leak from inside Ten Downing Street suggests that some smart footwork by Alistair Campbell helped to get everyone onside for a late March snap election…for the time being.

Last Friday lunchtime, the New Labour election strategy was almost omni-directional. Ed Balls and Kirsty McNeill were still pushing the Prime Minister towards a campaign motivating heartland voters not to abstain. Lord Mandelson was tearing his hair out in a bid to persuade Gordon Brown that – whether the election be sooner or later – a decision was vital, and a heartland strategy could never win enough votes to survive.
A further complicating dimension was the now openly hostile attitude of Chancellor Alistair Darling, still determined to deliver a responsible as opposed to give-away Budget on March 24th.

But The Slog understands that Campbell’s argument to Brown – that an early election would rule out a formal budget before the election – helped calm things down. And Lord Mandelson’s prediction that the April economic figures will be dire seems to have persuaded the combative Ed Balls (again with Campbell’s help)that for the time being at least, a united front is vital.

However, our regular informant remains pessimistic. “Ed still doesn’t accept the Mandelson targeting strategy” said the Whitehall mole, “and just one negative poll reading will knock Gordon back again”.

Meanwhile, an amusing side-effect of The Slog’s recent run of inside knowledge is that the Number Ten press team have sent us to Coventry: no phone messages or emails have been answered for over a week.