Cameron raised and Brown sat sweating with a pair of tens agonised and then threw in his hand. No election in 2007, and maybe none in 2008. After weeks of will-he, wont-he , Brown has decided not to call an early poll, and as a result looks like an indecisive fool. When we get the backstory on this it may turn out that it was all a clever wheeze on the part of someone in the Labour team just to put the Tories under a bit of pressure. You can almost imagine the pitch, 'we're up in the polls so we pretend we're thinking about going to the country and watch Cameron squirm', cue sniggers from all those attending. The trouble is that in politics, and in life, it is possible to be a bit too clever and end up outsmarting yourself. Plans that depend on your adversary doing something really do depend on their co-operation and human beings being difficult to predict are laden with the danger that they may do something else entirely. The Conservatives came out fighting instead of weaselling about there being no need for an election. They didn't divide, they united, taking a big bite out of Labour's poll lead and putting together a compelling and coherent case to put to the British people. Brown's attempt at spin just showed that he's not really that good at it, with his dodgy story about troop withdrawals unravelling almost before he had finished announcing it. Suddenly an election looked dicey, and talk of an election looked increasingly damaging. Brown has clearly decided to cut his losses and in so doing looks much weaker than if he had never listened to the bright spark who thought this idea up in the first place. In contrast, Cameron looks stronger than ever.
To put it in Essex language, Brown bottled it.