The YouGov poll in the Telegraph is now up here and the full tables are on the YouGov website here. The full voting intentions are CON 43%(nc), LAB 29%(+2), LDEM 17%(+1).

The other standard trackers all paint an equally bleak picture for the government, on the forced choice question (which I always tend to think of our best indicator of which way tactical voting is likely to go next time round, given that there are no regular tracker questions that ask directly about it) the Conservatives now enjoy a 12 point lead over Labour, they have an 8 point lead as the party most likely to run the economy well, David Cameron has an 8 point lead as Best Prime Minister. Gordon Brown’s net satisfaction rating is at minus 40, Alistair Darling’s at minus 42.

The poll is unremittingly awful news for the government on every level. I initially thought it showed that people were not blaming the government for the economic problems facing the country (consciously at least, I have no doubt that the ‘feel bad factor’ is damaging support anyway). Looking at the detailed tables though even that isn’t true.

The figures in the Telegraph suggest only 22% of people blame Brown’s past and 8% blame his present policies for the present economic problems, with 52% blaming it on the worldwide credit crunch. Looked at alone those suggest people aren’t blaming Brown… except that on the detailed tables we see that YouGov then asked people what the second biggest reason was – and found and additional 16% of people blamed Brown’s past policies and 22% blamed his present ones. In a separate question only 22% said they thought the government seemed to be handling the situation properly, 59% said it wasn’t.

Perhaps the only slivers of comfort Labour supporters can gather from the poll is that that there is still not huge enthusiasm for the Tories. 22% of people say they would be delighted if David Cameron formed the next government, 33% wouldn’t mind and 32% would be appalling. The Tories do seem to be ahead by default, not because people are excited by them, but because they think they would do a better job than a government the large majority (64% to 21%) are disatisfied with: this poll shows 38% think David Cameron and the Conservatives would do a better job, with only 24% thinking they’d do worse.


70 Responses to “Details from YouGov’s monthly poll”

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  1. I don’t think there is huge enthusiasm for the Tories amonst voters but there is huge dissatisfaction against the incumbent Government and the polls are now beginning to show this.

    I feel there is increasingly a feeling of “Anybody would do better than this lot” and this alone , barring a miracle, will be enough to propel DC to victory in the next election.

  2. It seems there’s been a big drop in support for the SNP in Scotland. The figures in YouGov’s table are Lab 37%, SNP 26%, Cons 19% and LD 15%.
    Are voters returning to Labour because they still hate the Tories, and the latter now look like they might win, so the SNP is not a risk-free protest vote?

  3. I see there is only one comment so far. As this is the third poll we seen with similar figures, I suspect all comments have alreay been made and people would just be repeating themselves.

    Still, I agree with KTL, barring accidents all seems set for a conservative victory at the next election.

  4. The Tories still haven’t established themselves as a party that people trust. Their poll lead is, as KTL says, more a negative reaction to the incumbent government than a real vote of confidence in Cameron. (I think “anybody could do better than this lot” is a personal reaction, rather than a reflection of the details – e.g. only 38% think that Cameron would do a better job).

    Thomas Widman’s point about the Scottish results might also apply in the rest of the UK. No doubt the May and London elections will see some Labour bashing, because these are seen to be relatively risk-free. Many voters still strongly dislike and distrust the Tories but if people want to bash the government because of worries about the constant (but in many ways overblown) flow of “doom and gloom” predictions, the Tories are the main beneficiaries in England.

    These polls are a snapshot of opinion at this moment – and the polls have shown a lot of large, quite abrupt, changes in the last 12 months. It remains to be seen if the current big Tory lead becomes a fixed pattern – and is translated to real support for them at a General Election, as this gets closer.

    Much will depend on what the economic climate looks like in a year or so from now. If it is worse, or still very gloomy, Labour cannot recover in time. But if the UK economy has weathered the storm, and if Labour keeps its nerve (and avoids too many cock-ups) things could still look rather different for an Autumn ’09 or Spring ’10 election.

  5. Only bad news for the Government at the moment it seem relentless, and as the economic down turn starts to filter through to the public you can only see Government support slipping away.
    I suspect the next GE will not be won or lost on things like Public Service Investment, immigration ,Europe,employment, etc,as it has in the past, but quite simply the Pound in your pocket, an argument the Government will find very difficult to win.
    Anthony could you please tell me if there has been such a large swing in the polls as quickly in the past and what was the conclusion (Thatcher before the Falklands war springs to mind but have there been others)

  6. 3 of the main 5 polling companies have now given the Tories a lead of 10%+ in their latest polls. If the remaining 2 – Ipsos Mori and Populus – follow suit, I think we might see a lot more nervousness in government circles.

  7. I thought the saying goes “Oppositions don’t win elections, Governments lose them”.

  8. If you look back to “Voting Intentions 1992-97” the incumbent government was behind by double-digit leads from October 1992, and these continued relentlessly until the election. And the Labour leads went much higher than anything the Tories have yet achieved.

    Much of the present gloom is about blood-chilling predictions of worst-case scenarios. At present unemployment is still falling, consumer spending is holding up, interest rates and inflation are relatively low and not likely to rise significantly, house prices are likely to fall a little but not crash. Things could certainly get worse – but (with luck) a lot of the direst predictions may look over the top in a year’s time.

    Yes, governments lose elections rather than oppositions win – but sometimes governments recover from mid-term blues when voters are faced with the alternative.

  9. Thomas’s point about Scotland, and a possible Labour revival to make sure the Tories are kept out from national (UK) government is plausible (and I think the LDs will be hit the same way too).
    But I bet the regional figures are not weighted, and I’d be very wary of a significant fall in SNP support. That sounds premature, because hithereto they have seemed fairly popular.

  10. Andy , you are incorrect in thinking that more polls such as this will lead to nervousness in government circles . Politicians are eternal optimists and government ministers will think they have 2 years to turn this round and can point to precedents where this has been done .
    For an insight into the mind of a government minister , I would recommend the Crossman diaries , opinion polls and heavy byelection losses made very little impact on his ministerial life .

  11. Off-topic

    The Economist has an interesting poll based article:

    “The Economist commissioned pollsters at YouGov in Britain and Polimetrix in America—supported by additional funds from the Hoover Institution, a California think-tank—to find out what people in both places thought about a number of social, political and economic matters. A thousand people in each country were consulted between March 7th and 11th. Broadly, the differences between the two countries look more striking than the similarities.”

  12. How long before there is a leadership challenge to Gordon Brown?

  13. BenM – and would it be a good thing for labour or a bad one?

    I wonder what Polls on Labour but not Brown/Darling would read?

  14. BenM

    Wishful thinking! It’s the Tories who wield the knife when their poll ratings slip. So far Labour has largely avoided the sort of internal conflict that so damaged the Tories from 1990 onwards.

  15. I don’t necessarily agree with the first couple of postings here. In the past we have thrown out unpopular governments and oppostitions have won by default, but that was when third parties were getting single digit levels of support and a tiny number of seats. There are now effectively two repositories for anti government voters – three in Scotland/Wales. Clegg is showing a knack of picking up issues and LDs will always rise in an election campaign as they get more equal coverage.
    I would also worry about an improving economy. In due course the media will be full of good news economics stories. This may not be soon enough for Labour, but if the underlying economic damage is not great – and so far it has been minimal – as the credit crunch is based on issues of confidence that can turn very quickly Labour may be entering the next election against a much better backdrop.
    I think the problem they might find though is that if people have lost confidence in them now, they may not credit them with any improvements.
    The Tories are clearly front runners, but I wouldn’t write the obituaries just yet.

  16. It certainly isnt wishful thinking unless you are a labour supporter. Conservatives very much want Brown to stay in power, he is Labour greatest electoral liability. It is clear from the polls that Brown is deeply unpopular personally and even in a situation where the economy recovers (and lets hope it does!) I cant see people outside the Labour core suddenley deciding Brown is Ok after all.

    In 97 the economy was in great shape but it didnt save an already unpopular government.

    I suppose its natural for Labour supporters to feel that the time left gives Brown an opportunity to recover. Personally, I have seen nothing in the last 6 months to make me think there is anything other than downside for labour with 2 more years of Brown.

    Brown has spent billions making voters dependant on Labour so he will always poll between 25-30% but by 2010 I would be astonisghed if anyone else wants to see him PM for another 5 years.

  17. Why are the SNP on the slide? At least this side of the border they look to have been experiencing some excellent PR. Cameron is quite the PR man, and impressive in PMQs, but few people are deluding themselves that the rest of the Tories have really changed. There’s a sinister wolf beneath the woolly exterior, if Labour were anything other than tired and inept people would be scrutinising the Tories more closely.

  18. JohnH:

    I think it’s been discussed here before that comparisons with pre-1997 polls isn’t very useful, on account of changes in methodology. But even if they were, those leads led to a Labour landslide bigger than anyone expected. I don’t suppose any Tories, not even our own redoubtable “Oracle”, are claiming David Cameron will win with a majority of 179.

    Smaller poll leads in mid term might just lead to a win with a smaller majority, or they may reflect changes in the polling methods.

    Regarding the changes in Scotland since the last poll, I think these probably reflect the sample size. I’m always at pains to remind people not to read much into a sample of about 150 (I especially have to remind myself when the SNP are ahead!)

    Steven

  19. JohnH @ 3:04
    I have made this mistake in the past. Regular poll watchers view it an a basic error, but it is one we all make.
    The polls pre Blair’s first win have largely been discredtied. Most doubt those big leads ever existed.

    Some points to note.

    Firstly that Blair actually won with only 12%, and there after about 5%, then 2%.
    As a result of overestimation of the Labour vote, the companies changed their methods. We are not comparing like with like in terms of mathmatical calculations.
    We are also comparing apples with pears when looking at the party vote.
    At each election, depite the best efforts of the pollsters, Labour have still been alittle over egged in the polls and the Tories, ever so slighlty under.

    Of course come the next election, there may be new phenomenon and the sums may change again.

    In any event, it is usually only pepole like Alasdair Campbell who refer to those polls leads for political reasons, whilst in his case, knowing they are widely regarded as wrong and never materialised.

  20. Sally C
    There’s always a “new phenomenon” of one sort or another at most elections – eg In 2005 there was a big “anti war” vote against Labour, and in favour of the LDs and various left splinter perties, which will probably have largely faded by 09/10.

    And the fact that, as you say, poll companies have adjusted for previous inflated Labour results would also mean that the present Tory leads cannot be taken as if they were quite as a huge a swing from those earlier pro-Labour poll leads. They could still be “mid-term” dissatisfaction, combined with voters worries about the future of the economy.

    And these YouGov details give little evidence that the electorate are sure (yet?) that the Conservatives have changed their spots, or that they would really do much – or any – better than Labour.

    And near-namesake JH (London), don’t write off GB too soon. If (it may be a big if) the economy performs much better than all the worst-case scenarios that we are bombarded with at present, he may yet get the credit for avoiding boom and bust throughout 12-13 years. And after another year or so the media may be asking more pointed questions about Cameron’s plans. He had a rather sticky time with the media a few months back, and can’t rely on an easy ride all the way to the next election.

  21. Sally whilst the polls pre 1997 did overstate the Labour leads a little it is not not true to say that they did not have a very big lead over the Conservatives both in the polls and in local elections .
    Look at a comparison of the votes in the 1996 and 2006 local elections which are pretty much directly comparable
    1996 District Con 29.7% Lab 40.4%
    2006 District Con 44.6% Lab 20.1%
    1996 Unitary Con 29.7% Lab 46.0%
    2006 Unitary Con 33.5% Lab 28.5%
    1996 MetDist Con 22.7% Lab 53.1%
    2006 MetDist Con 27.0% Lab 34.0%

    Labour support 19% higher in 1996 than in 2006 – add 19% to their poll standings in 2006 and it puts them 50%+ in 1996 . The actual polls in April/May 1996 had Labour on 52-55% so not that far out .
    Perhaps the most significant fact is that Labour polled 19% lower but the Conservatives much less than that figure higher especially in the Unitaries and Mets . The voters left Labour but went to parties other than the Conservatives .

  22. Mark, while you have a good point, you are also guilty of comparing fish with frogs. The figures here give some comfort for Conservatives since the Labour Party are continuing to decline in the South and Midlands – to levels they have never plumbed before. But the Tories – despite a poll lead in the North – have still a way to go up here. Suspect there’s something in the Cameron factor – he’s well recieved in the south and in rural areas. Up here we warm to William Hague rather more – his high profile in target areas will help a great deal

  23. Should we not be comparing this YouGov poll with the previous Telegraph YouGov poll and not the one from the Times?
    Or are both YouGov polls done in the same manner for the different newspapers ?

  24. Simon not sure why I am comparing fish with frogs , perhaps different species of fish .

  25. Mark, how many more times do I have have to say this.

    The situation in 1996 and now are completely differant. In 1996 Labour was a year away from the biggest landslide victory of the 20th century. Of course they were utterly destroying the Conservatives at that point. The point is, as I’ve said time and time again, the Conservatives now, don’t need to be doing what Labour was doing then to win the next election.

    I would say, historically, the sort of leads we’re seeing from the Tories right now are pretty good. They are not so good compared to 92-97, but that was a once in a lifetime situation, and I suspect I’ll never see another government winning a 180 seat majority in my life.

    The feeling I get is that for some people the Conservatives will never be doing well enough. First everyone said the Tories needed to start getting a lead, then they needed to reach 40%, then they needed to start getting leads of 12% or more, and now they need to be doing what Labour were doing before their landslide.

    The fact is, the Conservatives now have an election winning lead in the polls, beyond that I’m not looking.

  26. On the face of it these aren’t great figures for the SNP but then as I have long predicted 25% for Westminster I am still quite happy.

    I can’t think of any particular reason for the fall although labour have been pushing the cuts in services argument in places like Aberdeen.

    We’ve also had a very high profile case of a dangerous prisoner who was down as high risk by the SPS (Scottish prison Service) being sent to an open prison , absconding and raping a 16 year old.

    It wasn’t as a result of SNP policy but it was on “our watch” and just after we had proposed an extension of tagging and early release for some prisoners.

    it’s Labours Scottish conference this week end, the LibDems had theirs last week and have gone from 11% to 15% so as ours in in late April i suspect our conference bounce could show in the next poll and slightly over shadow Labours.

    Indeed Scottish Conference season could well be the reason for the changes we have seen since the last Telegraph poll.

    Peter.

  27. The key word is ‘locals’ Mark.

    Since the Tories now hold as many seats as Labour and the Lib Dems put together locally, it should follow that the Tories are in power in Westminster.

    John H
    My point that 20% Labour leads pre 1997 are based on a false/unreliable evidence still stands.
    My point that we are not comparing like with like also stands.
    Therefore any any arguement based on those leads is a fiction based on a false premise.

    They current methods of polling may well over represent Tory support. We do not know. But polls have not suffered from this problem in the past. They have suffered with this problem with the Labour vote. That much we know now with some certainty.
    Until we have a GE we won’t know. But the polls could just as easily be underrepesenting the Tory vote and Labour could be even further behind.

    Anthony.
    I wonder if you could shed some light on something. I note that the weighting of the You Gov sample caused a reduction in Tory numbers [693 down to 651] whilst the opposite is true of Labour and the Lib Dems [430 to 438 and 231 to 249 respectively].
    I have noticed this in afew polls recently. Is this normal?

  28. Interesting to wonder whether there’s a potential comparison between the Callaghan and Brown years. Callaghan took over with 3 years or so to go (admittedly with a single figure majority bolstered by tacit Liberal support) and Brown has a maximum of 3 years to a GE from when he took over. The main difference is that it was generally thought that ‘Gentleman Jim’ was an asset for Labour enabling them to poll higher than they otherwise would in May 1979 whilst it is evident from recent polls that Gordon’s impact is the oppoosite. There are a good number of people still active (and still very senior) in the Labour party who will be able to reflect on this from personal experience and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there’s a serious attempt to remove the PM during this autumn and give a someone with much less baggage and much more charisma an 18 month run up to May 2010.

  29. Gordon – they are carried out identically, same wording, same sampling, same weighting. The only difference is that the Telegraph poll tends to be done between Tuesday and Thursday and the S. Times between Wednesday and Friday – and I can’t imagine that makes any difference.

    Sally – yep, that’s the norm for YouGov polls.

  30. JohnH I take my hat off to you always the eternal optimist, and keeping Tory supporters feet firmly on the ground with a view from the other side of the coin
    But do you seriously with hand on heart think that GB was and is the right man for the job
    I agree with you it is usually the Tories who wield the knife but wasnt Blair carved up by the Brownites?
    Do you belive that the Labour Party will stand by and watch their ship sink without doing whatever it has to do to save it, or is GB just too big a figure for that to happen?
    After all we never thought that was going to happen to Thatcher

  31. Also, it will not help the Conservatives if they pile up their increased votes in already-won seats. They need to be getting votes in the marginals not in safe seats.

  32. GIN and Sally , the point of the figures I gave were to show that in 1996 Labour did have a 20 pointish lead over the Conservatives both in opinion polls and in the local elections that year . I did not say that having that lead in 1996 implied that they would win the next GE by 20 plus points . opinion polls and local elections are both indicators of public opinion at the time they are held/taken but neither are that much use in predicting the results of a GE in 2 years time .
    When comparing local elections with opinion polls we should always remember differential turnout in local elections which always harms Labour by around 5% of vote share generally to the benefit of LibDems to the extent of around 4% in vote share with minor parties taking a couple of % of each Labour and Conservatives .
    If polls were showing for example Con 40 Lab 35 LibDem 18 Others 7% you could expect local elections to show Con 38 Lab 28 LibDem 22 Others 12 % . Note these are actual vote shares and not the notional figures calculated annually by the BBC and R and T .

  33. One of the most interesting figures buried away in the detailed analysis is that 64% (almost two-thirds!) of the population believe their financial situation will be worse rather than better in a year’s time. Surely this will be the killer factor for Labour’s hope of a recovery unless they can turn it round quickly?

    No amount of spin can disguise the weekly increase in fuel prices prominently displayed at every garage. According to my records the cheapest available diesel on my route to work has gone from 100.9p / litre to 113.9p / litre in just 5 months – an increase of more than 12.8% in under half a year.

    My home heating oil cost just over 32p / litre when I ordered 1000 litres in late March 2007. A year later I am being quoted 51p / litre – an increase of 65.6% pa.

    And at the end of July my five year fixed rate deal with Nationwide at 4.69% (i.e. £46.90 interest per £1,000 borrowed) runs out. If I can secure the same deal again, the rate goes up to 5.83% (i.e. £58.30 interest per £1,000 borrowed). If I get “credit crunched” and have to go onto their Standard Variable Rate, I face 6.74% (£67.40 per £1,000 borrowed).

    No wonder people expect to be worse off, and no wonder no-one believes that inflation is only 2.5% as the government’s official (CPI) measure claims.

  34. Glenn

    I seem to remember a song about whistling a happy tune to keep up your spirits when things look black :)

    But yes, I really do think that Brown is by far the best man to lead Labour into the next election. He may be a hate figure for Tories, but he is by far the “biggest beast” in all three parties (sorry, Peter Cairns, all four parties in Scotland). He does not have the surface TV-friendly charisma of Blair or Cameron, but that may not be a bad thing in the longer run, if voters recognise his strength and sincerity. It is almost inconceivable that he could be replaced before the next election unless Labour started to tear itself apart – and there is no realistic sign of that happening.

    Don’t forget that for several months after he took over he reached high approval ratings both in polls and in the media. This evaporated under a hail of not entirely fair comment, after a run of partly inflicted bad luck. Much of this was rather trivial (if successful, from a Tory standpoint). Nevertheless, in a volatile political and economic climate, opinions could switch around quite quickly.
    I see few signs that the electorate have enthusiastically embraced the Tories – although I accept that they would win by default if Labour continues to look accident-prone, or if the economic climate does not improve over the next year.

    Whichever party, and leader, is in power when the economic future looks unsettled will carry the can. We have not been lacking in flesh-creeping “predictions” about what might happen; but most of these are just opinions and possible worst-case scenarios of the sort that the media love, at a time when nobody can be sure what our situation will be in even a few months, let alone a year or two from now.

    So I’ll continue to whistle in the dark for at least another year before I lose hope :)

  35. JohnH

    I’m not sure that Gordon Brown being big beast is of any relevance at all, its about what the people expect from their government of the day.
    Barring people like us who are interested in polls,politics,and ideologies, the majority of people are non partisan and will either vote out a government that they perceive is doing a bad job or elect one that they think will do a better job regardless of that party’s underlying ideology. To paraphrase that dreadful Tory tagline from a few years ago, we want a government that’s “thinking what we’re thinking”
    In 1979 people looked around and saw choas and wanted someone to take a firm grip on the situation – enter Margaret Thatcher.
    In 1997, I believe that people felt that the pendulum had swing too far in the direction of cuts etc and they wanted to shed the “greed is good” mantra of the Eighties and maybe to see if investing heavily in public services would deliver – enter Tony Blair.
    Now, with the population feeling that inflation is very much higher than the governments figures and with the credit crunch biting, I sense that the pendulum is swinging back and that people are looking agin for someone to take control and guide us through the next few difficult years.
    It seems clear that the public are beginning to believe or have decided that this government can’t do it but they are yet to be convinced that David Cameron’s Conservative party can.

  36. JohnH I agree with some of the points you make but GB and sincerity you cant expect people to swallow that, because that vanished after he cancelled the GE and stole Tory policies whilst chuckling to himself in front of the nation (that will never go away) I never thought for one minute Brown would have the charisma
    of a Blair but some would have been nice, and every time I hear him speak it sounds like my old record player that used to get stuck, nothing new and certainly not inspiring

    Alex H You are spot on! Wilst GB and Labour ignore and dismiss the finacial burden they are putting on the working public, trust, sincerity,and stablity, will be empty words

  37. Whilst nothing to do with the Govt (Heathrow, BA and BAA all being private), could the London T5 fiasco have an effect on Labour in the polls?

    I ask this on two counts 1. No sign of the transport minister and 2. Will add to the general feeling of doom in country and things not being organised etc.

  38. JohnH,

    Thanks for the mention although I would say that in a straight one to one presidential debate I’d back both Alex Salmond and David Cameron over Brown. Brown however studiously avoids these kinds of debates.

    Brown is the best that Labour has got and that in a way is part of their problem. As we move more towards a system where the media focus is on the leader you need a leader who is at least media aware if not media friendly, and Brown just isn’t.

    Blair controlled the media by working the media, he played their game. brown seems to be more inclined to try to control the media by trying to tell them what to do, and that just isn’t going to work.

    I haven’t read all the press reports yet but so far from yesterdays ( Saturday 29th) Guardian and today’s Sunday Herald, labours attempts to regain the initiative at their conference this weekend seem to have failed.

    Now I may be biased ( and probably am) but the blatant attacks on the SNP from Alexander like yesterday’s seem weird.

    “When?you strip away the spin it’s clear where the SNP stand. It is not on the side of those who believe in progressive taxation and public spending but with those who favour tax cuts for the rich and what’s left for the rest.”

    This just doesn’t square with reality. Labour are opposing LIT to replace the Council tax, which although it’s not perfect is a move to direct taxation based on ability to pay. It’s also hugely popular with the Scottish public.

    She has also claimed it was about “Socialism v Nationalism”, which just seems bizarre coming from New Labour.

    It very much comes across as an attempt to continue to portray the SNP as a bogeyman the way they tried in the election campaign last year when it’s clear that the Scottish public no longer believe that.

    A good campaign should be based on finding out what the people think and amplifying and articulating that in your policies and statements to create empathy with your target electorate.

    Given that the Scottish public quite clearly are fairly happy and certainly not afraid of the SNP the current Scottish labour campaign seems really ill judged, although long may that continue.

    Peter.

  39. JohnH,

    Thanks for the mention although I would say that in a straight one to one presidential debate I’d back both Alex Salmond and David Cameron over Brown. Brown however studiously avoids these kinds of debates.

    Brown is the best that Labour has got and that in a way is part of their problem. As we move more towards a system where the media focus is on the leader you need a leader who is at least media aware if not media friendly, and Brown just isn’t.

    Blair controlled the media by working the media, he played their game. brown seems to be more inclined to try to control the media by trying to tell them what to do, and that just isn’t going to work.

    I haven’t read all the press reports yet but so far from yesterdays ( Saturday 29th) Guardian and today’s Sunday Herald, labours attempts to regain the initiative at their conference this weekend seem to have failed.

    Now I may be biased ( and probably am) but the blatant attacks on the SNP from Alexander like yesterday’s seem weird.

    “When?you strip away the spin it’s clear where the SNP stand. It is not on the side of those who believe in progressive taxation and public spending but with those who favour tax cuts for the rich and what’s left for the rest.”

    This just doesn’t square with reality. Labour are opposing LIT to replace the Council tax, which although it’s not perfect is a move to direct taxation based on ability to pay. It’s also hugely popular with the Scottish public.

    She has also claimed it was about “Socialism v Nationalism”, which just seems bizarre coming from New Labour.

    It very much comes across as an attempt to continue to portray the SNP as a bogeyman the way they tried in the election campaign last year when it’s clear that the Scottish public no longer believe that.

    A good campaign should be based on finding out what the people think and amplifying and articulating that in your policies and statements to create empathy with your target electorate.

    Given that the Scottish public quite clearly are fairly happy and certainly not afraid of the SNP the current Scottish labour campaign seems really ill judged, although long may that continue.

    Peter.

  40. Glenn

    Prime minister decides to call (or not call) an election at the time he/she choses… Party steals clothes from other party… what next, the pope is a catholic? Are you saying that the Tories have never “stolen” ideas from any other party?

    The only way you could prevent the first, which is indulged in by ALL prime ministers, would be to have fixed term parliaments. I’d be in favour of that, but meanwhile, neither practice is unusual or unexpected – nor is the (fake?) indignation of the opponents, whichever side is on the receiving end.

    Julian B
    I agree that, at an (internationally) uncertain time like the present, people want to feel that their leaders are up to the job. And although Labour’s reputation on the handling of the economy has been dented – largely by outside forces that have affected all countries (plus some effective spin by the Tories and their supporters) – it remains to be seen whether the electorate really believes that the Tories would have done better. And that, to a large extent, will depend on just how grim things actually get, and how Britain’s economy and people’s personal finances look in a year or so from now.

  41. Peter I think GB and Labour are very worried about the SNP and the effect it is having both North and South of the border (Hence the attack at the SLP Conference)
    I also think you are correct with regards Salmond and Cameron like it or loath it being media friendly is part and parcel of political life today.
    Both Salmond and Cameron seem to be able to comunicate much more clearly to the public the direction they would like to go, where as the message from GB often seems muddled and contradictory.
    What did you think of GB`S Cameron style speech at the SLP Conference an attempt to change his media image perhaps?

    JohnH Ofcourse it is the PM“s decision to call a GE when its the right time for the Government,but GB`S antics in September after only days earlier telling us of the “new” politics he was going to bring has damaged him more than you think
    GB and Labour will always try to put out the message it is substance over media spin that matters and quite rightly so,but if they are unable to connect with the public through their leader now, it will not get any easier when the spotlight is on during a GE campaign
    And yes I do think at some stage in the near future if things don`t improve there will be grumblings which will gather pace which may start to undermind GB as leader (sorry)!

  42. JohnH – it remains to be seen whether the electorate really believes that the Tories would have done better.

    If the Tories were in power they too would be affected by international “events” – the big difference is that they would be in a position to do something about it because they wouldn’t have overspent during the good times so they could cut taxes to stimulate the economy as the bad times arrive.

    Thi is what most countries do in a recession or econmic downturn. Labour can’t do it because there is no money in the coffers – Government debt is already way too high to be able cut taxes.

  43. The grumblings have already begun, Health Minister Ivan Lewis admitting today that the government is out of touch and ‘silent on the daily realities’. Signs of fracture in the cabinet? It has already prompted a retort by Jacqui Smith. It doesn’t bode well if Brown cannot maintain the confidence of his own minsters, let alone the back bench masses.

  44. JohnH Labour`s ticket to victory! Miliband leader by Christmas, GE in Spring 2010 What do you think!

  45. Anthony, any idea if ComRes’s March poll will be showing up tonight?

  46. KTL/ Glenn

    I’d rather judge both parties by their actual track records in managing the economy. Until the American crisis hit the world the Tories were unable to lay a finger on GB’s record. Even now, we might weather the storm better than other EU countries and the Americans. Yes, might – and GB may yet prove to have got it right against the hostile commentators, as on several occasions in the last 11 years.

    But if the economy doesn’t turn around, Labour will certainly carry the can and you will have the pleasure of seeing Cameron in No.10. Changing to Milliband would make no difference – and would look like the sort of panic that made the Tories oust Thatcher (and a whole string of other leaders) when the going got tough for them.

  47. JohnH – the sort of panic that made the Tories oust Thatcher did get them an extra term in government though :)

    (Though that said, I do agree that in practice a second change of leader now – unless forced by ill-health – would probably do Labour no favours. It would look like panic and most of the real talents in the cabinet are the much younger members who aren’t really ready yet)

  48. Anthony

    Agreed that a replacement for GB would undoubtedly come from the younger members of the Cabinetbut suspect that it could be done in a controlled manner and whether or not they are ready yet may not matter in the public mind as they will be up against Cameron and his team who in terms of government will have had absolutely no experience. Now people will say that the Blair team in 97 also had absolutely no experience but if I remember rightly there were several senior ministers in his first cabinet who had considerable experience from the 1970s and I can’t think of any members of Major’s last team who are likely to feature in key posts in a Cameron government in 2010?

  49. I wasn’t thinking that that a lack of experience would damage any of them electorally – against Cameron it obviously wouldn’t, just that I suspect they’ll all have learnt the lesson of William Hague and won’t want to do it too early, especially given that, if Brown were ousted, it is only likely to have happened under desparate circumstances of Labour support having utterly fractured and there not being much chance of victory without another change.

    Interestingly enough, the first Blair cabinet had four members with junior ministerial experience – all at Parliamentary Under-Secretary level, plus 1 who had been a whip.

    Ann Taylor – whip 1977-1979
    Lord Richard – Parly Sec’ 1969-1970
    Margaret Beckett – whip 1975-1976, Parliamentary under-sec’ for Education 1976-1979
    Gavin Strang – Parly Sec’ for Agriculture 1974-1979.
    Jack Cunningham – Parly Sec for Energy 1976-1979

    The present shadow cabinet has 9 members with ministerial experience (1 with cabinet experience, 4 at Minister of state level) and 1 who has been a whip.

    William Hague – Minister for the Disabled, Secretary of State for Wales 1995-1997
    David Davis – Minister of State for Europe 1994-1997.
    Liam Fox – Parly Sec at Foreign Office 1996-1997.
    David Willetts – Paymaster General 1996
    Peter Ainsworth – whip 1996-1997
    Francis Maude- Financial Secretary to the Treasury 1990-1992
    Cheryl Gillan – Parly Sec for Education and Employment 1995-1997
    Andrew Mitchell – Parly Sec for Social Security 1995-1997
    Lord Strathclyde – Minister of State DTI 1993-1994, Chief Whip in the Lords 1994-1997
    Patrick McLoughlin – Parly Sec in various departments 1989-1995.

    So, at present, the Conservative shadow cabinet has considerably more government experience than Blair’s first cabinet, but of course, there’s no guarantee all those people will still be in the Tory shadow cabinet come the election (or that David Cameron would actually put them in his first cabinet – Michael Meacher was also in Blair’s final shadow cabinet and had ministerial experience, but wasn’t in his first cabinet).

  50. added to that there are people who are not in the shadow cabinet but MAY get a ‘role’ as they have been carrying out policy reviews eg Ken Clarke, IDS, Malcom Rifkind(?)

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