"Listen here Brown - don't get clever with me and try and pull a fast one by having the election this October before I can stop this damn European constitution thingy"Well not quite, but that is pretty much the hidden message from Britain's most powerful man. Murdoch has laid down the gauntlet, Brown takes him on at his peril - personally this would tempt me to call Murdoch's bluff. But I would imagine that Brown will try to negate the Murdoch threat as much as possible before an election and maybe he would be correct to do that but one rule is always true - Murdoch's papers will never be pro-Left, no matter how much they nominally back Labour winners in elections...
When to call elections is always a dangerous business with the opinion polls as close as they are.
I have never understood how the polls can move so fast in the space of a few weeks - but whether it is latent Labour voters returning to the fold, Lib Dem-Labour switchers or Tory switchers, the polls have moved significantly from a 5%ish Tory lead to a 5%ish Labour lead since Brown took the reins.
However a more negative Murdoch press could dent this. Should Brown be brave?
Well if the poll leads continue to grow, the temptation would be pretty strong. How confident can anyone (even Brown), be about the economic conditions next year or in 2009. Interest rates could come down or a global credit crunch could bring recession. Would October look too eager? Would it look too much like Brown had something to hide?
Whatever the pros and cons, all this talk of elections could bring dangers if Brown delays and the polls change direction. Brown has got to keep the polls growing and this will need more radical policies and announcements. If Brown does play the long game, he has got to keep setting the agenda or the momentum will be lost. Whatever happens - we should always remember the Tories have plenty of money to spend (far more than Labour) and we shouldn't underestimate the depths they will go - so far the public have saw little change in Tory policies despite the rhetoric. If Cameron keeps acting Right, his talking Left will fool few people.
Personally, if the polls show a healthy 7-10% lead in September, I would go for it. The problem for Brown is that if he waits and the polls change it will be virtually impossible to bring them back and comparisons with Callaghan would be irresistible.
In all reality however, there is pretty much no chance of October being realistic (no party readiness organisatonally or financially). At the end of the day, Brown has got to keep the polls favourable until the spring. Cameron still has a chance but thankfully he doesn't have the policies to pull it off.