There's been a degree of speculation floating around the blogosphere on the prospects of Brown calling a Winter election. If there's any truth in this, the UK's prospects for 2009 must be worse than any of us realise, for an election now could only be for the reason of minimising the damage to Labour, and not for keeping it is power.
In support of the notion are Brown's gathering of the old, bankrupt, corrupt team around him, a forthcoming tax-cuts bribe, the party's finances being just this side of solvency, and a Cameron lead of under 15% in the opinion polls which, with the electoral system skewed to Labour, would lose Brown only about 120 seats, and the expectation that as things get worse in 2009 the electorate will increasingly turn on Brown.
Against are the unwillingness of Labour MPs to lose their seats until the very last moment in 2010 and keep hoping in a Micawberish way that something will turn up, the party's finances being unable to bear the costs of an expensive campaign, the reluctance of Labour's voters to turn out in the cold weather, and the desire for a final slash-and-burn series of rearguard socialist social engineering measures that will be hard to reverse.
I think a Winter election would be an act of desperation, in expectation of the later loss of over 200 seats for Labour which may mean the end of the party as a national one and its slow extinction as a regional rump in the NE and NW, where it would linger for a while.