Risks of a May election

To The Times

29 March 2001

Sir

If the Prime Minister decides to call an early election on 03 May he puts his party at serious risk of a Celtic backlash.

There are elections already scheduled for May in England, but none in Scotland or Wales. A May election in Powys and Dumfriesshire would be entirely gratuitous. Scotland and Wales also stand to bear a disproportionate share of the pain if the normal processes of the election serve to spread foot and mouth disease further.

A larger fraction of the Scottish and Welsh electorate is engaged in agriculture. A larger proportion of that fraction comprises sheep farmers. Scottish and Welsh tourism is also more dependent than is English on hill walking and other activities constrained by current conditions.

Plaid Cymru and the SNP will easily be able to portray an early election as having been called for party advantage and to suit an entirely English electoral timetable while posing risks that impact Scotland and Wales more than they do England. If Mr Blair makes such a potent propaganda gift to his enemies then he is either braver or more foolish than the record would thus far indicate.

Yours truly

Quentin Langley

Copyright Quentin Langley 29 April 2001

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