Monday, September 24, 2007

Gordon Brown's first morning listen - Farming Today?

Several Prime Ministers have been reported as avid listeners to Today. It's a fair bet that our early rising current Prime Minister gets up even earlier to listen to Farming Today on a regular basis.

It's bizarre I know, but any assessment of the likelihood of an October election must come down, in great part, to what's happening in the farming world.

There's this new Blue Tongue outbreak. In fact, it's been expected for years. But its carried by midges, most of whom will be killed off by a frost. The BBC are forecasting a couple of frosts later this week. And the Blue Tongue virus cannot replicate below 15 degrees C. It's 18 degrees C throughout most of the UK today.

Brown would need the frost to kill off the midges but the cold weather could also kill off quite a few Labour voters also.

We've just had a sixth outbreak of Foot and Mouth in Surrey. Today comes news of another possible outbreak in Hampshire. That would be the first outbreak outside the Surrey protection zone this year.

So all these agriculatural and metrological factors have to be taken into account by Brown.

I am keeping a close eye on Farmers Weekly Interactive. I registered for it several years ago when I was doing some research. I occasionally get sent mails from them. One mail was screened out by my "Nannynet" filter because the title was "Fantasy Farmer". It turned out that it was a game involving choices like "Do you want a farm with 40 acres of arable versus 20 acres for grazing..." rather than anything else which my overly suspicious Nannynet may have suspected.

Sarah Montague was in good form on Today this morning when interviewing Brown about the election prospects.

She mentioned to Brown that he has only been PM for 90 days. "Do you feel legitimate?" she asked him. It must be the first time a BBC interviewer has asked the Prime Minister - straight out - if he is a bastard. I also noticed that she referred to herself "sitting in the election studio" - such was her excitement. She meant to say "conference studio".

When Brown was on BBC Breakfast TV earlier I noticed that he became remarkably relaxed and smiling when the interviewer went on to the subject of Europe. The Sun frontpage today (above) was mentioned. You don't have to be psychic to work out that Brown would be absolutely delighted to fight an election with Europe at the top of the media and Conservative agenda.
I hope you don't expect me to come up with a "yes" or "no" prediction about the election. There has been so much speculation that Brown is going to look a bit stupid if he doesn't call one. On the other hand, he might look statesmanlike avoiding an unnecessary poll in late autumn.
One thing's for sure. With all this speculation over several months, if there is an election called, you could hardly describe it as a "snap election"...unless you are referring to the snap in the air which there is all too likely to be on October 25th.

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