With Election on Way, the Party Needed Funds ; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

IN the heady days of September, it appeared that nothing could go wrong for Gordon Brown and his loyal band of Number 10 shock troops.

Buoyed by an opinion poll lead over David Cameron's fractious Tories, his assured handling of a series of minicrises wrongfooted those who felt he couldn't make the gear change from Chancellor to Prime Minister.

The confidence in Brown Central, as it is known, stemmed from the fact that the long-hoped for "smooth and orderly transition" from Tony Blair to his successor had finally occured.

Some Brownites decided that things were going so well that it was time to gear up for a snap general election in the autumn. And a looming election meant money.

Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander, known as the "tufty club" by some Labour MPs irritated at their youth, were pushing hard for a snap poll.

With no agreement with the Tories on party funding, both sides racked up bills for the battle ahead.

Billboard ads could not be booked in time, but it would still cost around Pounds 15 million to fight off the Cameron challenge, aides guestimated. …