Gordon Brown's decision not to call an early General Election was absolutely the right decision but taken for the wrong reasons.
As I said on the ‘Today’ programme last Thursday morning, an election held on November 1st or November 8th would have been seen by voters as Gordon Brown’s “trick or treat” election, coming hard on the heels of Hallowe’en.
All the political parties claim they are concerned about declining participation in elections. So why was the Prime Minister even thinking about an election at this time, and why was David Cameron saying ‘Bring it on’?
Anyone can see that a November polling day would have reduced voter turn-out.
Elderly people would have been frightened coming to the door on dark evenings.
Young families would have gone away for school half-term.
A full million people across the country would have lost their vote because they have recently moved, and the new electoral register does not come into operation until December 1st. Given the high turnover of population in parts of St Albans, there would certainly have been many local voters infuriated to find they could not exercise their democratic right.
Local Liberal Democrats in St Albans and around the country campaign all year round. That is how we are. We will be ready for an election whenever it comes.
But we have always argued for fixed term four-year parliaments to stop Prime Ministers monkeying around with democracy in this way. I am delighted that we have tabled a Bill in the House of Commons today on this topic.
Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron need to stop and think a bit more about democracy and a bit less about what they perceive to be their own party advantage.
All political parties will lose if voter turn-out drops still further.