‘Scoop’ from yesterday’s Independent on Sunday:
“Labour will be given only six months to “road test” its plans for government with senior civil servants, after David Cameron controversially intervened to block early talks, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.”
But is it actually true that the amount of time the opposition is being given to consult with civil servants before the election is being cut? Oliver Wright notes that “In previous elections, under a convention set by John Major, such talks could take place up to 16 months before the last possible date an election could be called.” Though that was before the era of fixed-term parliaments when election dates were chosen at the PM’s discretion, usually 12 months before the last possible date, giving the opposition party four months and not the full 16. The 16 month period allowed the PM to avoid revealing the exact date of the election which could otherwise be calculated from the date access was granted. Indeed, a reader points out that in 1983, 1987, 2001 and 2005 the opposition party had as little as four months’ access to civil servants. So, actually, Labour are getting a pretty good deal.
This is part of a wider pattern of whining from Miliband, following on from Labour’s moan that he didn’t have enough time to respond to the Budget. This should really help Ed beat the perception that he is weak and pathetic…