“The reason why the Prime Minster has cancelled this election is because the Conservative Party is making the arguments about changes this country needs and people are responding very positively to our proposals. He has shown great weakness and indecision – it is quite clear that he has not been focused on running the country and he has been trying to spin his way into a General Election campaign, he has now had to make a humiliating retreat. The big disappointment for me, and I think for millions of people in the country, is that we now have to wait for a possible two years before we can get the real change we need in our country – change to improve our NHS, change to raise standards in schools, change to give people opportunity in their lives. The Prime Minister says he has a vision for change – well put that vision to people in a General Election – this is not a vision for change, this is just a strategy to cling to office.”
Click continue to see the evidence for how Brown built himself up for this fall, compiled by CCHQ…
1. Brown has spent his political life arguing that a change of PM should mean calling a General Election. Within days of John Major becoming Prime Minister in 1990, Gordon Brown called for a General Election: ‘Should it not be the people, as a whole, who decides who will lead the country? The truth is that what the country needs is not a leadership election, but a General Election. And the sooner it comes the better’ (Article for the Daily Record by Gordon Brown, 15 November 1990)
2. General Election Coordinator appointed before he even became Prime Minister. Three days before he became Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced: ‘Douglas Alexander will be the General Election Coordinator so that we are ready not just to fight but to win a General Election’ (Speech at Special Labour Party Conference, 24 June 2007).
3. Manifesto work begun within two weeks of taking office.
Labour announced that Ed Miliband was overseeing the Labour manifesto and began the task ‘actively’ and ‘intensively’ in July (BBC News, 15 July 2007). Douglas Alexander quickly began giving presentations to the Cabinet on election planning (The Guardian, 18 July 2007) and Brown ordered an ‘election summit at Chequers to put Cabinet Ministers on a war footing’ in mid-July (The Mirror, 18 July 2007)
4. Reorganised the entire Party structure; appointed an Election Director; declared an ‘Election Alert’ for all party workers; and hoarded staff into Labour HQ. Gordon Brown ordered a ‘complete review of Labour’s organisation’ in late July to prepare for an election (The Times, 1 August 2007) and appointed lobbyist Jon Mendelsohn as General Election Director in August. Martin Salter MP, Vice-Chairman of the Labour Party, announced: ‘I can confirm that the party has been put on alert for an early election that could take place as soon as this autumn’ (The Times, 1 August 2007).
In September, Labour announced that lobbyists and PR experts had been recruited and thirty new posts had been created including ‘graphic designers, researchers, policy and press officers, a copy writer, direct mail officer and administrators’ (BBC News, 27 September 2007; The Times, 28 September 2007).
5. Fundraising brought forward and donors announced: . In August, a ‘senior Labour Minister’ announced: ‘We are bringing our fundraising forward so we are ready for an October 25 poll’ (The People, 26 August 2007).
a. All Fundraising Brought Forward
b. Millionaires Ready.
Senior Labour donor and Brown ally Lord Paul announced in a newspaper interview ‘if there is an election and the money is wanted, whatever I can pay I will pay’ (The Times, 15 August 2007).
c. Unions ‘war chest’.
The Mirror reported superunion Unite had set aside a £26 million ‘war chest’ for Labour and said it was prepared to fund an early poll (The Mirror, 20 August 2007).
6. Hired an Advertising Agency and cancelled all leave. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s general election co-ordinator, announced on 13 September: ‘we have appointed Saatchi & Saatchi and we are delighted to have them on board’ (Labour Party Press Release, 13 September 2007). Staff on the Labour account Saatchi & Saatchi were reportedly ordered to cancel all holidays booked for October (The Independent, 22 September 2007).
7. Boasted to newspapers ‘conditions are right’ and everyone is ‘convinced we will win’. Brownites told journalists: ‘most of his inner circle believes the conditions are right and that such favourable terms may not be on offer again’ (The Express, 20 September 2007) and ‘all our research suggests we would win and win well’ (Mail on Sunday, 23 September 2007).
8. Declared ‘we are ready’ and ‘on an election footing’; then issued campaign packs. Douglas Alexander announced as the Labour Party conference opened in an interview with The Guardian: ‘There have been significant donations in recent weeks, notwithstanding our financial difficulties in the past, we have been working hard and we will be ready whenever the Prime Minister decides to call the election’ (The Guardian, 22 September 2007).
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Ed Balls stoked election fever: ‘I opened the new campaign office in my constituency a week ago today and told my local party it is important we were on a general election footing’ (Sunday Telegraph, 23 September 2007). The same weekend of the Labour conference a ‘campaign toolkit’ was published. Peter Watt, Labour’s general secretary, announced in the introduction: ‘The preparations for the next general election are now well under way’.
9. Deliberately refused to dampen speculation when asked. Gordon Brown deliberately refused to rule out an election or do anything to dampen speculation when directly asked by Andrew Marr. He replied: ‘whenever the time comes for an election these will be the issues… whenever the time comes for a decision I think the issues, of course, are clear…. that’s what I think I will be trying to show the people of Britain this week. And that’s what I think all the ministers in the government, whether it’s the education, or the schools, or the health, or the housing minister, they’ll be showing what we can offer for the future of this country’ (Sunday AM, 23 September 2007).
10. Slapped down those who implied there will be no autumn election; then got his closest ally to declare the greater risk was not calling an election. After Ed Balls appeared to pour cold water on the prospects for an election by suggesting that the party would need ‘months’ to lay out its new policies (Press Association, 23 September 2007), Labour spin doctors immediately telephoned journalists and ‘insisted he had not meant to dampen speculation’ (Daily Mail, 24 September 2007).
Ed Balls then started to claim that far from being a risk, not calling an autumn election would be riskier, saying: ‘It’s a very interesting question as to where the gamble really lies’ (BBC News, 26 September 2007).