I expect the benefit data incident will result in a deluge of polls over the next few days – the first one is already out, a snap YouGov poll for Channel 4 news. The topline figures with changes from YouGov’s last poll are CON 41%(nc), LAB 32%(-3), LDEM 14(+1).

Labour’s support is down, as might be expected, but it has not benefited the Conservatives who remain static at 41% (the same level they’ve been at for the last 4 polls), the benefit going instead to the Lib Dems, continuing to creep upwards from the appalling figures last month, and “others”. Not that this is likely to dismay the Conservatives too much, it is the largest lead YouGov have given them so far.

It is a snap poll, taken straight after the news of the missing discs that would have been conducted when the news of the missing data was still all over the news. That said it doesn’t necessarily mean that Labour will automatically recover in any later, full-size polls. I remember putting similar caveats in my reports of the snap YouGov/Channel 4 polls after Brown and Cameron’s conference speeches and in the end their findings were supported by full size standard polls the following weekend. I would be amazed if we don’t have many more polls to compare this one to in the next few days.

UPDATE: There are also reports of a snap Populus poll for the Times, this one done on Wednesday night. It reasked the question on whether people would trust Brown & Darling or Cameron & Osborne to handle economic problems. In September, just after Northern Rock first faced problems, Populus found 56% of people trusted Brown & Darling more with only 18% trusting Cameron & Osborne more. The figures now are 28% for Brown & Darling and 34% for Cameron & Osborne. 44% think Darling should resign.

Strictly speaking the figures may not be directly comparable – this survey was conducted online, rather than by phone, so we don’t know what difference the sampling and the absence of an interviewer effect may have had, but realistically any difference would be small and this represents a crushing collapse in confidence in Brown and Darling. Again, we don’t know to what extent it will last and, as yet, most people aren’t suddenly enamoured of Cameron & Osborne.

The poll also found the percentage of people who think the government is competent has slumped from 56% to 25%, the percentage of people who think they are honest and principled has fallen from 37% to 20%. If these figures are maintained in polls when the newspapers aren’t full of hostile headlines, as they were when this poll was conducted, they will be very bad indeed.

UPDATE 2: A lot of commentary in the last couple of days has the air that Labour have blown it, that the next election is all but over. It is worth pointing out that a 9 point lead for the Tories really doesn’t justify this, especially given that on a uniform swing it would deliver the Tories only a small majority. The more significant finding is disasterous drop in people’s trust in Brown and Darling to run the economy, as shown in the Populus poll.

Labour’s big trump card for the last 15 years has been the economy. The Tories have been ahead on things like crime and immigration for years. I’ve seen polls where the Conservatives have pulled ahead on core Labour issues like education and the NHS, certainly people’s perceptions of how well Labour have done on the NHS is very poor. The one thing solid banker Labour have always had though is the economy. The public think that Labour have delivered on the economy, that Gordon Brown can be trusted on the economy and that Labour are, if not far more trusted than the Conservatives on the economy (which polls almost always show) at the very least pretty much equal with them. If Labour lose their advantage on the economy, they have lost their biggest advantage and probably are in deep trouble.

That said, this is a poll done in the midst of bad news for the government. We really want to look at opinion when it has settled to see if permanent damage has been done to the government’s reputation for economy competence. It’s also important to note that the collapse in trust in the government’s running of the economy wasn’t echoed in the YouGov poll which asked people to rate Brown & Darling and Cameron & Osborne separately on competence and found the two of them neck and neck.

UPDATE 3: It would have been conducted bang in the middle of a poll asking about data security, so let’s see what happens when that leaves the headlines, but it’s still worth noting that Populus also found only 29% of people in favour of ID cards, with 55% against.


66 Responses to “First poll since the missing discs”

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  1. Con Home reports a Times poll has trust in Labour’s economic competence down from 61% to 28%.

  2. It take several days and weeks for the true damage of any event to filter through. I think its highly likely that the true impact of this catastrophe won’t be known until mid to late December. I fully expect Labour to be under 30% by Christmas.

  3. Anthony
    Does YouGov weight according to voting intentions?
    Sorry to be so boringly ignorant but what is a snap poll? A smaller one? One with shorter fieldwork? One with bad tempered researchers?

  4. Sally C – no one weights by voting intention, that would mean you’d weighting headline voting intention figures to a set target figure, so the result of every poll would be pre-determined and exactly the same ;). YouGov’s political weighting is by party ID in May 2005 (i.e, in 2005 YouGov asked their panel which party they most identifed with, every sample is weighted so their answers from back then match the totals from back then).

    A snap poll is just one done in a snap quickly after an event, so it normally has both shorter fieldwork and a smaller sample.

  5. WMA 41:35:14 C Lead 5.6 highest since 11 May. But this is to some extent academic. Whether or not the WMA will get below 30% by Christmas there will surely be polls with Labour below 30. The way The Economist now sums up Brown is coruscating. (http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10171786)

  6. Brown will be pleased he didn’t call an election for November 22nd, or 29th.

    The growth in the support for minor parties over the last 20 years is noticeable in this poll, since Labour is on the same level of support in won in the 1987 election, but the Tories are 2% lower and the Lib Dems are about 9% lower.

  7. Thank you Anthony.
    I did not express myself very well. What I meant by voting intention was likelihood to of voting. I understand some pollsters ask how likely the individual is to vote and they are discounted if they rate it less than, say 7 out of 10 where 10 is certain to vote.

  8. And the news just gets worse – it’s unrelenting for Labour – each day you turn on the news more of their bad handling of government – today it’s the military spending !! What other revelations are we to look forward to over the coming weeks ?

    The upcoming POLLS may well surpass my previous predictions of the POLLS to Christmas – it now looks very likely that Labour will drop below the 30% mark by the end of November .

  9. As an addition – the Liberals really should be on better figures than 14% with all the media coverage they have had – perhaps the bickering between the two contenders for leadership have scuppered their chances of a better POLL result .

  10. As Anthony mentioned in his second update, the more consequential figures emerging from these polls is not the Tory lead – if anything they’re showing the Tories have a glass ceiling at 41% which is problematic for them – but rather the destruction of Labour’s economic competence bulletproofing.

    I’m not convinced Mike Richardson is right that Labour will collapse below 30% for the very reason he identified in his last post: the weakness of the Lib Dems, because realistically, Labour will only slip below this level if the Lib Dems get much closer to 20%.

    We’re also in an era of polarisation: people aren’t changing their voting intentions that significantly nowadays – they’re fairly settled: what’s in huge flux is motivation to vote.

    The time for change mood is setting in – and that’s fatal for Labour; but the best we can say about the Tories at the moment is that the public is now willing to consider them for government. That’s a significant step forward, but things aren’t done and dusted yet, despite the abject Brown’s efforts to destroy Labour’s chances.

  11. GIN
    Yes it may take a while for the impact to be known.
    I hope to God the impact on individuals is zero.If the data is utilised for widespread fraud we are in a different ball game-and not just a few points more off Labours Polling figures.

    However the public know now the reason for the incident.
    It has been published on TV news this evening-in writing between NAO & HMRC.

    NAO made two clear stipulations to HMRC-the data for personal banking details etc was to be disaggregated from the Child Benefit Data Base before transit-&-the data was to be sent in the most secure way possible.

    A senior official at HMRC replied in writing that the former could not be done because it would generate unacceptable additional cost.And we know that the latter was flagrently disregarded.

    We don’t need an inquiry-we need another statement from Brown-this time telling us the truth.

  12. Although these figures are bad for Labour, I do wonder how public opinion would have reacted if a Tory Government- makig cuts in the civil service – lost 25 million records in the late 90s. I think theu would have been absolutely slaughtered. Every day seems to bring a new catastophe. For that reason I think it is amazing that Labour support holds at 32%. Remarkable, in fact.

  13. Sally – They all do it differently. MORI take those who say they are 10/10 certain to vote, ICM take those who are 7+/10 certain to vote, ComRes 5+/10 certain to vote, Populus take them all, but weight them according to likelihood to vote, YouGov take them all regardless.

  14. Does YouGov even ask how likely people are to vote? If they do, was there any significant change in these figures?

    If Labour has a “core” vote of say 25% of the electorate, then as it loses votes and falls towards that core, would normally its likelihood to vote increase (since only motivated, core supporters are left being asked) or decrease (because its less popular)?

    If YouGov are saying 32% for Lab, I think ICM or or Populous could soon say

  15. Although a small sample, the numbers from Scotland show the collapse of both Labour and the LibDems, and the move of the SNP to the first place choice. With the Conservatives stalled at 14, the shift in vote is all to the SNP.

    To see the change, a comparison from the last election to the current numbers. Conservative 2005 16% current 14%; Liberal Democrats 2005 23% current 7%; Labour 2005 40% current 32%; and the SNP 2005 18% current 43%.

    Using the current figures from Populus on the Electoral Calculus site, it projects zero seats for the Conservatives down from 1, one seat for the LibDems down from 11, thirteen seats for Labour down from 41 and forty-five seats for the SNP up from 6.

    If these numbers are accurate, and the analysis is supported, this is a seismic shift in Scotland, even larger than the Holyrood election this past May.

  16. Is that serious Doonhammer? Wow, I bet that would be beyond Peter’s wildest dreams. I’d certainly be pretty darn impressed and happy to see that, but doubt it personally.

    A move to two-party: Lab v SNP north of the border does seem plausible though.

  17. Doonhamer, those numbers are interesting, though i thinks its highly unlikely we would see those changes translated in an election, at this stage anyway, there is still a long way further that Labour could fall.

    Personally im interested to see what happens when Dave lands his hammer blow. In PMQ’s he didn’t even attempt a knock-out strike, and he simply hasn’t featured in the news at all. As Adam said, the Tories seem stuck in the mud at 41% I personally reckon Cameron waiting to strike when its most damaging, then we will see the Tories break that ceiling.

  18. I agree with Luke – I am amazed that in the current climate, with the press slaughtering Labour every day, a third of people still tell pollsters that they will vote for the party.
    Incidentally, is there no-one else who thinks the missing data issue is maybe not as serious as the media clamour suggests? A bad mistake, sure, but as I understand it there was no data on the disc which is not pretty easily available anyway – for example, every time you give someone a cheque they have your full bank account details!

  19. The polls simply reflect what has been a torrid period for Labour with wall to wall bad coverage. Because the data issue touches the issue of competency, it is no wonder that the government’s ratings on competency have declined.

    As to those who ask why Labour still poll 32% and the Tories are stuck on 41%, I think the answer is fairly clear. Cameron has done a very good job of capitalising on these political opportunities and heaping criticism and blame on the government. That is the job of an opposition leader. That is very different however from offering an alternative vision of government with a detailed set of policies. Put simply, people are getting tired of this government but still doubt whether the Tories would make any difference.

    To illustrate this, let’s look at two of the main issues that have damaged the government; Northern Rock and the missing discs.

    The only way to have prevented Northern Rock hitting the buffers would have been to have in place a far more stringent and interventionary regulatory regime. The Tories cannot seriously contend that they would have had such a regimen in place because they have been calling (rightly or wrongly) for less regulation and less red tape. Northern Rock is in a parlous state because it has been poorly managed. You might criticise Darling for his handling of the affair after the event but Cameron should be very wary of setting a precedent that the government is to blame for any financial institution that screws up big time.

    As for the missing discs, the decision of the idiot to send them in the post is something no one can legislate for. As for the issue of costs and the reluctance not to incur the cost of stripping out the data, again, the Tories would not wish to argue that we should be spending even more taxpayer’s money on the public sector. It’s easy to speak with the benefit of hindsight and say that this was an issue where costs should not have been a factor. But the reality is that unless you want a totalitarian system of government, the government can only set the spending levels and operational decisions are then delegated and taken by officials down the chain. Unless Cameron is prepared to commit billions of additional spending to government departments to ensure that costs considerations never arise(which is the exact opposite of both Labour and Tory policy at present), people will wonder what difference he would make. Again, Cameron must be very wary of setting a precedent that the government is to blame for any error

    Before anyone gets antsy, this is not supposed to be a bunch of excuses for Labour to trot out. Indeed, an argument that “Tories would be no better” is hardly a rallying cry for visionary government. Labour are in government and part of the job is taking flak for anything and everything. Ask John Major. My point is simply that by the time the next election comes round, Cameron will need to have set out the material ways in which he will provide a distinct and alternative government rather than implying that he can guarantee against events such as Northern Rock which he simply cannot. What will give him a considerable boost is that Brown has thus far singularly failed to demonstrate where he wishes to take the country which as Sally and John T have eloquently expressed elsewhere is what invariably seems to happen to parties that have been in power too long.

  20. Chris you may be right.

    Northern Rock may have more effect on the country as a whole but its effects are not being felt on an individual basis – and let us hope they are not.

    I, like you, SUSPECT the discs have just been lost. However, this is a huge problem and I believe most people, including you may not understand the its seriousness.

    Criminal gangs now work as co-operatives, joining together to share resources and info eg. I can clone cards, you can divert them in the post, he can get bank account details etc.
    They even advertise on the Net and more worryingly target “useful” people.
    The police know about this. There have been prosecutions.

    So how come any Tom ,Dick AND 23 year old, badly paid, junior Harry can access ALL our details in a Govt department.
    Why did a siren not go off when someone downloaded half the nations info?
    Because the criminals haven’t got the wit to work this out? Because they are always 10 steps behind the authorities?

    The real issue here is not the legal breaches of the Data Protection Act that the Gov itself enacted. No. The consequences of this type of sloppiness running throughout Govt are potentially horrific.
    Just think about it – details, all of them, financial/ personal/medical?????

  21. Arnie
    “The decision for someone to sent them in the post is somethind no one can legislate for”
    You are wrong . See my previous post. He should never have had the opportunity.

  22. The big loser in all this will be voters trust in ID Cards and the Civil Service control mechanisms i.e. centralised control of information and services.

    This may be reflected by your comment that it is still worth noting that Populus found only 29% of people in favour of ID cards, with 55% against. The outcome of the next election will be greatly influenced by regional difference as “localism” and nationalism make gains: that is my theory anyway.

  23. OT: Anthony, just noticed the clocks are wrong, out by an hour. Unless we’re meant to be in Western Europe? It’s now 10:07 GMT

  24. Other than perhaps “Black Wednesday” in 1992 it is not any single cock up which undermines a government. It is the culmative effect of the drip drip of continual mistakes and mishaps. Think of a stone beiing chucked into a pond followed by another stone and another until the stones rise above the surface and everyone sees the top one and then remembers each and every one underneath.In the case of the present government the stones go all the way down and back to the Bernie Ecclestone affair. We have not reached the ‘tipping point” beyond which this government cannot recover but we are getting mighty close.

  25. Sally

    My point was poorly expressed. You can legislate for these things and put procedures in place but if someone chooses to ignore it, what do you do?

    Data such is this needs to be accessed hundreds of times each day. In order to guarantee that there is not a breach of the hundreds of procedures in place, it costs money. A lot of money. You can pay to have more experienced people accessing the data or you can pay to have people monitoring and peer reviewing each and every action that takes place in a government department that might possible give rise to a breach. That may be a price that is worth paying but my point was that we should not pretend that there is a cost free simplistic solution to this.

    It is always easy in hindsight to dream up a procedure or check that would have prevented the breach occurring. But if we are to ensure proactively that no breaches occur, it is going to cost money. I have no problem with that and I certainly don’t agree with ID cards but I don’t see the issue of cost being properly addressed by the media who are more interested in easy headlines before they move on to the next “gaffe”, “blunder”, or McCann “revelation”.

  26. It’s ironic that Labour’s strength on the economic performance is evaporating now that Brown has moved. He was a prize asset in the treasury. Labour is weaker for having promoted him. Is the role of Ch. of Exc. now unshufflable? Somehow it seems to me like Darling is there for the next three budgets and next two Queen’s speeches.

    The word “sleaze” stuck fast to the Conservative Govt up to 1997. It was probably less justified than its effect warranted, but Black Wednesday had faded somewhat in my mind by 1997, particularly as everyone I knew expected the economy and house prices to strengthen.

    Similar words to “sleaze”? “Spin” was a good try, but stuck to everyone including journo’s. “Incompetence” ,”wasteful” and “unfair” feature a lot. It’s interesting to see Darling and Brown’s low scores on honesty and principles. Behaviour in crises needs to be seen to be squeaky clean, and I can envisage those scores improving IF the next blunder is dealt with honestly.

    Data protection could well be fertile ground for “waste-cutters”. Lines like “If there weren’t so much pointless data analysis, measuremnt and “league” tabulating going on, there’s be fewer weak spots”.

  27. Just to clarify, “Brown was a prize asset at the Treasury” in terms of Labours strong position in the polls.

  28. Last night’s council byelections had showed derisory Labour votes in the Southern England seats – just 15 votes in Winchester for example . Results were very good for LibDems , 2 seats held one with a massive swing from Conservatives and 2 seats gained from Conservatives .

  29. And to clarify further, the “First Lord of the Treasury” is indeed Gordon Brown, but he has been promoted from “Chancellor of the Exchequer” and replaced by Darling, who is not such a prize asset (To Labour’s polling performance)

  30. At least one of these contributors is going beyond the bounds of rational thought and behaviour. A little moderation, please!

  31. Mark,

    As we discussed in October if the local by elections were projected nationally the results would be Tory circa 36% and the Lib Dems and Labour both on 27%.

    The actual polls were nowhere near that.

  32. Anthony
    Thank you for the info.

    Arnie,

    Generally I think we agree. The Govt is in trouble but the Opposition is not yet seen as the “Govt in waiting”.

    WHY?

    I think the “providing an alternative vision” thing is overrated. People do not vote out a Govt because the other party has a better vision.
    They are cautious and stick with the “better the devil you know” policy and only move away from it when they are angry [not just dissappointed] about the past and frightened of what the Gov might do in future. As Nick rightly says, this can be one event or several. Only then do they [or at least the floaters who decide elections] START to look at the Oppositon as a SERIOUS alternative Govt and not just a protest.

    And voter judgement on the Govt is not always fair or logical [re Nortern Rock etc]. The decisions taken that led to Black Wednesday were supported by large parts of the press AND the Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown. This fact and the fact that the decisions that followed set this country on a good economic path did not stop the electoral damage, or TB/GB making hypocritical political hay with it. Fear caused blame and it stuck where it stuck. Govts do not always get the flack when they deserve it and sometimes get they get it when they don’t.

    With regard to the Oppositon, we must remember that our pictures of T.B, G.B and the likes of Robin Cook are distorted by the last 10 years. They were not Big Beasts THEN. Old footage of Tony Blair when he was elected is astonishing. Look futher back at his first PMQs. He was very nervous and not the man we remember today.

    Furthermore our current electoral expectations of the Opposition are too high, distorted by Blairs first win. His margin was 12.5% over the Tories but the electoral calculations, known at the time, said his win would be big . It was, in seats. The Tories are now 9 points ahead polls – polls which usually overestimate Labour and underestimate the Tories [and so we might not be far off that figure now] But the electoral bar is much higher and it feeds into expectations and demands.
    We are not comparing like with like. Blair had to pass his A level politics. Cameron has to got get his degree.

    In summary [if you are still with me Arnie!], the govt is loosing, people are looking elsewhere and Cameron is doing far better than he is given him credit for at this early stage of the troubles but he and the Tories know they very well that they will have to do better.

  33. Not picking on Sally in particular, it’s something that crops up again and again – the idea of “polls which usually overestimate Labour and underestimate the Tories”.

    There is some residual bias in the polls towards Labour. At the last election all the pollsters were within the margin of error (in fact they were all well within it, and NOP were spot on) so you cannot point the finger at any particular pollster and say “your results are biased to Labour”. However *collectively* all their results (apart from NOP obviously) erred in favour of Labour. If it was all just normal sample error you’d expect some to have favoured the Conservatives and some to have favoured Labour, a random distribution either side of the real result.

    Despite that, I really wouldn’t worry about it too much because the residual bias is likely very small indeed. We’re not talking 1992 or 1997 (except ICM) when polls grossly overestimated Labour’s lead, the pollsters have all reformed their methodologies since then. These days what bias there is is going to be fractions of a percent, and that’s assuming the changes the pollsters have made since the last election haven’t solved even that.

  34. Until its tested at the next election, we can’t know surely whether the changes have fixed the residual bias or aggravated it one way or another can we?

  35. Sally, I agree we are very much on the same page here. For the first time in 10 years, I would now have the Tories as slight favourites to win the next election with all the usual caveats as to the volatile and fickle nature of the electorate. That is an astonishing turnaround from two months ago though it is important that the Tories recognise that it has been a product of events hurting Labour rather than a public endorsement of the Tories. Cameron is not stupid enough to underestimate the task ahead as you say.

    Addressing Anthony’s point, I agree that the Tories cannot expect the polls to over-represent Labour support as they did in the 90s. Indeed, it is quite possible that a “shy Labour” factor may start to come into play much in the same way as people used to be coy about admitting voting Tory in the 90s. By contrast, there is now little stigma attached to saying that you intend to vote Conservative (outside of student circles at any rate).

    On the plus side for the Tories, I do not believe that it is true that they will need a 8 point lead to get a majority. I expect tactical voting to unwind as everyone’s favourite game of “whip the Tory” is less popular than it used to be. I do not think it will completely reverse so as to exaggerate Labour losses but I would be surprised if a Tory lead of 4 or 5 points was not enough.

  36. Ralph , Yes of course , opinion polls asking a hypothetical question of how people will vote in a general election which is not going to happen is far more important than real votes in real ballot boxes .

  37. One possiblr and interesting comparison re Brown as a PM after a stint as Chancellor of the Exchequer: there is apparently a possible precedent with Germany in the post-war period.

    The German equivalent Ludwig Erhard was credited with the German economic miracle and after Konrad Adenauer stepped down was made Chancellor (i.e. the equivalent of PM or President). He was a disaster and was replaced very quickly.

    Any similarities!? Do ex Chancellors of the Exchequer make good PM’s?

  38. Mark, stop spinning: the implication of your post on by-election results was that Labour’s “derisory” vote had somehow collapsed as a result of this controversy.

    There were, to my knowledge, only two “southern” by-elections last night: in Winchester and Wellinborough. In the Winchester case – Winchester being one of Labour’s very worst seats in the country – their vote was down just 1.4%; it was a quite stunning 2.4% in May. In the circumstances, would we have noticed had they not even contested the seat?

    Equally, West ward in Wellingborough is a Tory stronghold; it is the largely rural western outskirts of this marginal constituency, so is it any more shocking that Labour place third here than in the rural outskirts of a very strong Labour area like, say, York?

    All I’m saying is that it is not worthy of you to insinuate that Labour’s support is collapsing in the south on the basis of two by-elections in very poor territory for that party anyway.

  39. Absolutely of course it is Mark, no need to be sarcastic.

  40. Anthony
    I stand corrected on the over/under thing.
    I was aware that the “error” had reduced with each passing election but not to the point where it might be so slight.

  41. The problem is that all three of the current Labour Disasters are ones for which Brown is personally responsible, and where the hapless Darling (who is, however unfair it may be, widely seen as Brown’s stooge) has made things worse.

    My guess is that Darling will have to go and Ed Balls will become Chancellor a bit sooner than planned. But I don’t think we can rule out a leadership challenge next year.

  42. It is very difficult to challenge a sitting Labour Prime Minister. Very difficult indeed. Personally I would be truly gobsmacked if there was a challenge against Brown. Barring health mishaps, falling buses or some major scandal that he is personally involved in to the extent that immediate resignation is unavoidable I can’t imagine him ceasing to be PM before the election.

  43. Adam, but many recent Parliamentary by elections have not been in winnable Tory seats and yet they have been slated for finishing third. (Scotland, Central London).

  44. Adam , I would class Norfolk as in the Southern half of England though it is North of Watford . Look at other recent byelections Guildford , Basingstoke , Maidstone , Chelmsford all derisory Labour votes . The Labour vote has collapsed in much of the rural South in the last year or so .

  45. Adam,

    Back in the day (the early 1990s) when I lived in York it was a Tory seat.

  46. These are very good figures for the SNP with the breakdown ( all be it only 143 of a sample),

    Labour 30%, SNP 36%, Tories 19%, LibDems 11%.

    The Jan 07 figures from the Polling report Scottish voting intentions were,

    Labour 35%, SNP 28%, Tories 16%, Libdems 15%.

    2% seems to have come from the “others”, with labour and the LibDems the big losers to the SNP and Tories.

    In % terms the SNP vote is up by 28%, and the Tories up by 19%, Labour down by 14% and the Libdems by 27%. By any standard these are big swings over less than a year.

    I am not about to make any predictions based on any calculator. Firstly like the UK, Scotland just won’t have a uniform swing.

    Secondly turnout could be a big factor with Labour people either switching to the SNP, staying at home or comming out to stop the Tories, which i would expect to be t the heart of the Scottish Labour campaign.

    On these figures the Tories could pick up Dumfries and Galloway from Labour, but are unlikely to take Perth or Angus from the SNP. Labour are also unlikely to take Dumfries from the Tories or Dundee east from the SNP.

    As we don’t have an SNP target list (yet) it’s difficult to know exactly which labour seats are vulnerable on these figures. Although I think it’s something Anthony should add because although it might seem marginal in Uk terms, the possibility ( and it’s still only that) could have a real impact on the final outcome of a Westminster election.

    Having said all that when you look at ratings for Brown and indeed darling in this poll we see yet again that the Scots arestill far more likely to back Brown and Labour even if they re doing badly.

    We are still a long way off from the next election and things will get harder for us (SNP) over the comming year as we try to make things better while not meeting manifesto pledges.

    Although I think Doonhamers figures aren’t really realistic, although doubtless arithmetically correct, there is the outside chance of a very significant result.

    Although the SNP has long moved away from it, as recently as the last election it was the offical Labour line that if the SNP wanted Independence all they needed to do was “Get a Majority of Scottish seats at a General election”. Thirty seats is a majority in Scotland.

    Labour won 41 seats to the SNP’s 6, so if it was a straight switch we would need to pick up 24.

    If we picked up a half dozen from the weak LibDems ( assuming the don’t recover and that Ming Campbell might step down) we would still need about twenty.

    To be the largest Party we need to take over a dozen, mainly from Labour whle gaining some from the libDems and the LibDems and Tories take some off of Labour.

    On another issue, the Guardian headline today makes interesting reading and could be another blow to Darling.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/nov/23/northernrock.bankofenglandgovernor

    If it is percieved that Darling has lent against a £100bn+ portfolio which turns out to be less than half of that because a lot of it is under an off shore trust, and that the loans have been supporting it and not the NR, then he could be accused of either not understanding what he was doing, misleading parliament or both.

    Peter.

  47. To be honest, I’m surprised that the Tories, at this particular moment, are still only 9% ahead. At this early stage in the aftermath of what has happened, I would have thought that the Tories would have expected even better results. There’s a long time until an election and there’s still everything to play for, unless the polls get quite a lot worse – and I’m not convinced as some are that that’s about to happen.

  48. I wonder how low Labour support will go before the next election?

    I would say both main parties’ core vote is around 27-28% (which is what Labour achieved in the 1983 general election), but even that can be eaten into, in mid-term at least. (The Tories fell to 18.5% in January 1995 according to Gallup but they still managed over 30% even at the 1997 general election).

    As far as I know Labour’s lowest ever rating was 23.5% by Gallup in December 1981 – so there’s some way to go before that is worsted.

  49. Would it be true to say that both the Tories and Labour parties are ceasing to be national parties?
    In most of Southern England the Labour Party is non-existent and one can say the same for the Tories in cities in Northern England and generally in Scotland. this is probably keeping the Labour poll ratings up. I would say that nothing has happened so far in this government anywhere as bad as under the Wilson / Callaghan (or Black Wednesday)years.

  50. “Would it be true to say that both the Tories and Labour parties are ceasing to be national parties?”

    It depends on the election result, wolf – in 1997, Labour took a lot of southern seats. In 1983, the Conservatives actually had 21 seats in Scotland.

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