[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Cameron seeking Whitehall talks
David Cameron
Voters did not want any further "Labour failure", Mr Cameron said
David Cameron has asked for his shadow Cabinet to meet senior civil servants to ensure Whitehall is prepared for an incoming Conservative government.

He has written to Gordon Brown saying it is a matter of "urgency", given the speculation about a snap election.

Mr Brown is expected to decide this weekend whether to call an election for the first week in November.

Oppositions traditionally talk through their plans with civil servants in the months before an election is held.

The idea is to ensure civil servants can help the incoming government to put their policies and plans into action from the day they take office.

In the past oppositions have been given varying lengths of time to talk up their plans with civil servants - most recently from the January before the fourth anniversary of the last election.

Mr Cameron's letter comes as Mr Brown refuses to dampen speculation of a snap poll as the deadline for an early November election approaches.

Analysts say the results of the first opinion polls since David Cameron's Conservative Party speech are likely to be a crucial part of the PM's calculation.

Mr Cameron will be hoping that the polls, published from Thursday evening onwards, will dent the so-called "Brown bounce" which has given Labour opinion poll leads since Tony Blair stood down.

Election 'speculation'

In his letter to Mr Brown, Mr Cameron said pre-election meetings must be held with the Civil Service so it was "fully prepared to implement the new policies of a new [Conservative] government".

To try to persuade people to come out at half past nine on a wet and windy, dark November - I think it's dreadful
Ken Livingstone, London mayor

"Given that you have allowed members of the Cabinet to speculate openly that an election is to be called imminently, I am asking you today to give the necessary instructions for such meetings to begin immediately," he wrote.

The Tory leader said he wanted to give officials time to prepare for measures including reforming the National Health Service and the UK's tax system, plus the creation of a single Border Police Force.

Mr Cameron has stressed that the Conservatives were "ready" for an election.

Voters now had "a really clear idea about how we can change Britain and how we don't need another five years of Labour failure", he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

'Fight and win'

Aside from 1 November, the second date widely suggested for a snap election is 8 November, which Mr Brown would have to call by 16 October.

"I think we can look forward to a number of opinion polls, probably Friday, Saturday and Sunday, trying to get a measure of where the public now stands in the wake of David Cameron's speech," Strathclyde University Professor John Curtice said.

Gordon Brown
Speculation is growing over a possible November election
This, along with private polling given to Mr Brown, meant "the prime minister will finally have to make up his mind and tell the rest of us whether or not we are going to have a snap election at the beginning of November, or whether he is going to call the dogs off", he added.

Amid all the election speculation Liberal Democrat party president Simon Hughes told BBC Radio Five Live that prime ministers should not be allowed to call a snap election at a time of their choosing.

He said: "If an election is called in the next week or so, we will have to cut short the end of this parliamentary year.

"We will rush through stuff - some laws will never happen that should have happened."

"The public are inconvenienced," he added, "so, no, it's a very bad idea."

He will call an election only because he knows the bad times are coming
Steve, Derby

And the mayor of London, Labour's Ken Livingstone, described a November poll as a "dreadful" idea.

"I think you need an election as the sun's bursting out at the beginning of summer," he told BBC London 94.9.

"To try to persuade people to come out at half past nine on a wet and windy, dark November - I think it's dreadful."

The Association of Electoral Administrators has estimated that a November poll would bar at least a million voters because of changes since the electoral register was last updated in December.

Let the people decide - Cameron
03 Oct 07 |  UK Politics
Labour 'recruits election staff'
27 Sep 07 |  UK Politics
Lib Dems 'on snap election alert'
16 Sep 07 |  UK Politics

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific