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28 September 2007

The Burmese lesson

Look to Burma' s struggle, if you need a 'democratic' reminder

By Owen Walker

The dilemma of when Gordon Brown should call an election dominated the Labour party conference this week. In hotel bars and function rooms debates raged on about the strengths of 8 November compared to May 2009.

The debate was no less informed and eloquent on the blogosphere, especially at Harry’s Place.

As news broke that Labour was recruiting election staff on full time contracts, speculation grew that Brown would announce the date of the election next Wednesday, after he has seen Cameron in action in Blackpool.

The Norfolk Blogger assessed the timing of the announcement and its likely impact on all three main political parties.

He concluded: “In my opinion the best time to call the election would be on Monday morning. Whilst thousands of Tories are in hotels that they will have to pay for, many will be hundreds of miles from their constituencies, and suddenly the Representation of the People’s Act will cut in meaning that equal coverage will go to all the parties.”

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Kerron Cross suggests one blogger who would presumably want the election to be delayed. Tony Benn’s granddaughter, Emily, is to stand in the next election for Worthing East and Shoreham, where she must overturn a Tory majority of more than 8,000 in her bid to become the youngest ever MP and the fifth generation Benn.

But there is one snag: “She is 17 – so if Gordon were to call the election this week then electoral law would prevent her from standing. She’s not 18 for another two weeks, so I guess she must be counting down the days to her 18th birthday for several reasons!”

Concerned at the amount of corporate sponsorship at the conference – or trade fair as he describes it – John McDonnell MP paused to reflect on its relevance in the outside world: “The scenes of Buddhist monks in Burma losing their lives in a struggle for democracy are a stark reminder that democratic politics should be about more than developing subtler forms of spin and party game-playing.”