Next June could present an "ideal" opportunity for Gordon Brown to call a General Election, according to a close ally of the Prime Minister.
Charlie Whelan, a former press secretary to Mr Brown, predicted Labour would by then be ahead of the Tories in the polls.
His comments appeared in a column for the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, which is published in the Scottish Highlands where Mr Whelan has a second home.
It will encourage speculation that senior Labour figures are keeping their options open for a 2009 election, despite Mr Brown's insistence that he is not giving it any thought.
Number 10 is desperate to avoid any repeat of last autumn's election U-turn, which came after Mr Brown failed to shut down talk of a poll among his supporters.
Mr Whelan, the political director of the Unite union, wrote: "The big question is, will there be a General Election? We have the Euro elections in June and this could be an ideal opportunity for the prime minister to go to the country.
"In May Gordon Brown will be hosting the world economic summit in Britain, and with the new president of America, Barack Obama, in town, there is bound to be wall-to-wall media coverage.
"David Cameron will be lucky to get a look-in. In any event, the current Tory economic strategy of doing nothing will by then probably see them behind in the polls."
Mr Whelan dismissed suggestions that the Government could not win an election during a recession, pointing out that John Major's Tories had done that in 1992.
"The fact is that most people think Gordon Brown is the best man to lead the country in a crisis," he added.