EDITORIAL: All factors point to a May election

In the midst of serious problems being encountered in the

countryside with the continued spread of foot-and-mouth, staging a

general election would appear to be far down the country's list of

priorities.



But for a Labour Party keen to secure a second consecutive term, even

the tragedies of the foot-and-mouth epidemic cannot afford to take top

billing above the fact that all other factors point to 3 May being the

most desirable date for a general election.



Exclusive research carried out for PRWeek by NOP backs this up: two

thirds of the population register a 'feel-good' factor and only one in

five think the British economy is shrinking - a sure sign of widespread

economic confidence.



Both factors suggest that despite the problems currently being faced in

the countryside, the time is right for Labour to go to the polls.



Yet for senior members of the Government to come out and publicly say as

such would, of course, show Labour as insensitive and more than likely

provoke a public backlash.



Instead, we have had all the right people making the right noises

without any clear signs that a change of date was ever on the cards.



In particular, Gordon Brown has helped strengthen his public image as a

smooth operator through some carefully placed stories.



But in an era when how the message is conveyed often becomes the story

itself, there is still a chance this decision could backfire on the

Government and create a storm of negative publicity.



That appears to be a price worth paying for Labour. Especially since the

alternative - to go to the polls when the economic downturn predicted by

Gordon Brown's advisers has already hit - makes 3 May the preferred

date. Game on.



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