Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has been released. The topline figures, with changes from their last poll, are CON 48%(+4), LAB 28%(-2), LDEM 17%(nc). It was conducted between the 13th and 15th February.

We’ve seen the Conservatives re-establishing their lead over the past month, but this is the first poll to put them back in the sort of territory we saw last summer when the Conservatives were regularly recording leads of 20 points. If other polls back up these sort of figures then we are heading back into landslide territory, and it’ll be interesting to see if Labour start experiencing the same sort of internal problems they faced last summer. At the moment though, this is just one poll, so let’s wait and see. It is also worth noting that back in the Summer MORI were showing the largest Conservative leads of all the pollsters, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect other companies to show quite such a large gap even if this does signify a further movement to the Tories.

Also notable is the lack of movement in the level of support for the Liberal Democrats. As regular readers will know, in the past few weeks we’ve seen big leaps in Lib Dem support from ICM and ComRes, a smaller increase from Populus, and no increase at all from YouGov and now Ipsos MORI. We still aren’t really much the wiser about what is really happening to Lib Dem support, though it is worth noting that the Lib Dems were already on the up in last month’s MORI poll, so one can look at this as the Lib Dems consolidating an increase they saw in the last couple of months.


167 Responses to “MORI give Conservatives a 20 point lead”

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  1. what is extra ordinary is that labour are not getting a bigger hammering in the media.
    murdoch has just turned this week to the conservatives.

    unbelievably late considering the meltdown the country is in.

    full credit to nu labour for keeping the mirage going for so long.ruthlessness that is not in the tory dna,but may have to be learned.

  2. This is the sort of lead the Tories need to rack up to stand a chance. However, I really don’t think this is a pro-Tory response, people seem to be just turning to them with a heavy heart and little confidence Cameron is any good. I think Labour can still win the next election if they play it right.

  3. Stephen
    “I think Labour can still win the next election if they play it right”
    That’s faith for you! Whether its blind or not I leave to others to decide. But Stephen what do you mean by playing it right? What is the magic formula that the boys in Labour HQ are missing when they churn out their press releases? Please let them and us know.

  4. Stephen – a 20 point lead = “standing a chance” to you?!!!

  5. Stephen – the electorate generally (and in reality the floating voter) normally changes allegiance with neither a “heavy heart”, or great enthusiasm. They do so when something motivates them to believe it is “Time for a Change”. I don’t know who came up with the mantra, but it is a well established one that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.

  6. No Stephen does have a point, the opinion polls on David Cameron’s ability to handle the economic mess are not high. This might as Stephen says be one possible example of voters having “little confidence Cameron”.

  7. Actually people tend to change not because what they change to is better but because the position they are in is untenable (worth reading books such as “Who Stole my Cheese” for why).

    I believe this is what we are seeing with the shift away from Labour as more people are finding it difficult to think about voting for them.

    However, Labour can still win the next election (i.e. be the largest party) but lose the popular vote by some margin as many voters on all sides hold deep seated prejudice against the there parties. This means that each party has a core vote and Labour’s is very high following the voters anger at the Conservative rule in the 80s and 90s though as we have seen in some polls these people can shift to the LibDems

    The Conservatives have worked hard as John Smith and then Tony Blair did to overcome the deep seated prejudice against their parties. Have they done enough? Only time will tell.

    Labour could help themselves in the next 15 months by becoming less unpopular which I think they will do. So in my opinion it all comes down to who does enough to de-toxify their brand not who comes up with the best policies.

  8. “So in my opinion it all comes down to who does enough to de-toxify their brand not who comes up with the best policies.”

    Ye gods!-what an appalling idea.

  9. I think what we should be looking for, in order to tell what’s happening, is a consistent picture from several polls, not one big lead in one poll. A few months ago we had such a consistent picture, ie that the Conservatives were well ahead.

    At the moment the only consistent picture we have is that things are a little inconsistent. As always, need more polls.

  10. @ Keith.

    Agreed.

  11. @Colin

    I did not say I liked the fact but just that it is the reality.

    Appalling as it is, that is politics in general. A few exceptions apart like Obama who create huge changes in allegiance we just do not attract enough talented people into politics in the UK.

  12. I still fail to believe a 20 point lead could ever be achieved by the Conservatives. In 1997, they were incredibly unpopular and Labour only beat them by 12-13 points. David Cameron is no Tony Blair! We have to remember that come the election campaign the polls will change quite a bit, and of course the economy will be a major feature and only time will tell what the economic situation will be when the election is called.
    In my opinion Gordon Brown isn’t half as bad as John Major was, and David Cameron isn’t half as appealing as Tony Blair was. If the election was held in a few weeks time after a good campaign by Labour I reckon it would be only a small Conservative majority. I don’t trust MORI polls as they always seem to give some extreme figures, I personally prefer YouGov.
    I also ask myself if the next election is one to lose, not win, that’s only my opinion (i.e I don’t need a million comments telling me I’m wrong as its opinion not fact!)

  13. Stephen is right in that the next election is by no means a given for a Conservative majority. I think it is safe to say the Conservatives look very like being the largest party (and at the moment seem to be heading for a considerable majority), but anything can happen. My concern is that Labour might “play it right”, particularly in relation to postal votes, where they have some history of playing.

  14. @JackR – If Anthony won’t moderate you I will. “Gordon Brown isn’t half as bad as John Major” (give me some data to prove that) and “in my oppinion” no David Cameron is not Tony Blair – I doubt he will take us to war on a lie, I doubt he has designs on being the president of the USE (United States of Europe), I doubt he would set asside personal convictions to ensure that he can have a smoother ride in office (See Blair converts to be a Catholic), I doubt he would leave us with a lame duck when he finally retires from office in 3 terms time “In my oppinion”

    It’s time for a change – everyone knows it, just some people are good at fibbing to themselves.

  15. @JackR and I forgot to mention that this is a poll (rogue or not) not an election and in terms of polls, David Cameron has already achieved a lead of 20 points – it says so in the headline of the story, so start to believe

    Also check back to last year when there was 1 poll stating 20 points and another at 28 points.

    Why do you think Gordon’s cabinet is manouvering to replace him. Why do you think advisors are crossing the floor. Why do you think Nick Robinson has curtailed his reporting of leaks from Mandy.

  16. @ Keith – but this isn’t just “one big lead in one poll”. Look at Anthony’s hand little list to the right of the page. The Tories have had a double figure lead in the last 10 polls, with several polls putting it at 14/15/16 points. The latest poll is a leap up to 20, certainly, but it’s a leap on top of what was already a substantial and consistent lead in multiple polls.

  17. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Anthony’s handy< little list

    I’m saying nowt about Anthony’s hand.

  18. @Anthony – Sorry Anthony I have just read your comments policy (should have done it sooner me thinks) – “Comments that talk about Zanu-NuLab, one-eyed Scottish idiots and so on are not conducisive to the non-partisan sort of discussion we want here and will probably never leave moderation. ”

    Does anyone have a view on how much traction the current story about the complaint on J Smith not being in her London home most of the time. It’s seems to be getting quite a bit of media coverage at the moment (even from the BBC)

  19. @ Kier

    The devil is in the detail, and if you examine the polling data on “leaders most trusted to handle the recession” kind of questions you can see Cameron only now getting past Gordon Brown, even then it was only 2% above him (YouGov poll from Jan I believe).

    All I am saying is Stephen is right that such a lead can and last year did vanish from a recovery re-launch. Like it or not Cameron still has not won people over on the issue of his being trusted to lead UK out of recession- and this might indicate a surge in tory polling beause of anti-Labour rather than pro-Tory reasons. Thus such a lead could easily vanish.

    I urge caution.

  20. Keir – yes, it probably was about time you did :) Jack made a perfectly reasonable point and you replied with a partisan rant about Tony Blair. You can’t moderate people, so don’t get into arguments.

    Not least, it was completely off the point anyway. Jack said he didn’t expect the Conservatives to get a 20 point lead in an actual election because it was larger than in 1997, and he didn’t think Brown was as much of an electoral negative as Major was, or Cameron as much of an electoral plus as Blair was. Stuff that Tony Blair did after 1997 is entirely irrelevant anyway, since it didn’t affect voters opinions in 1997.

    (As it happens, I think Jack’s argument is wrong, if not his conclusion (I’d be bloody surprised at a 20 point lead at an actual election) – I suspect John Major himself was an electoral plus for the Conservatives in 1997, his approval ratings were not nearly as negative as those of the government as a whole (so are Brown’s now, but not by as big a margin).

    I suspect Blair was more of a plus than Cameron is – it’s tricky to find really comparable figures. I’m slightly wary about using MORI’s figures, since they aren’t politically weighted so are probably favour Labour anyway in a comparison across parties. ICM are the only other 1997 pollster going now, but annoyingly they don’t seem to do “Best PM” anymore.

    For what it’s worth ICM’s Best PM questions from April 1997 normally had Blair with a lead between 9 and 16 points (with the exception of that one poll that showed the Labour lead down to 5 points). YouGov’s regular best PM questions these days are only showing Cameron with an 8 point lead, though he did get up to 18 and 19 point leads last summer.

  21. Mark Senior – thanks for your pedantic ways. Bottom line – do you think the Lib Dems are really at 22% or do you think they are mor ein the mid to high teens (16-18%). The consensus I would argue is that they are in the mid to high teens since they have not had much news coverage and when people want to remove a Labour Government they will vote for the principal opposition not the third party (or fourth in Scotland). So you can be pedantic about MoE etc but lets reality check the polls.

  22. To pick up on de-toxification – There are two main things making Labour’s brand toxic – one is the length of time that Brown has been there, and the other is their links with the bankers that seem to have stuffed us up so thoroughly.

    I don’t think people are as wound up about Iraq or ID cards etc. The objections I sense are that the Govt “isn’t doing enough” about the recession (ie not so much “doing the wrong things”, and that it’s “time for change”.

    Brown’s challenge is to offer policies that can be sold as the changes people want to see.

    He can’t really deny responsibility over the financial collapse, apart from to say he was not alone in being mistaken, and maybe that Osborne wouldn’t have instigated the controls that could have mitigated our economic suffering.

    I distinctly remember Major and Blair being described as Job/Swap leaders – a socialist in charge of the Tories and a Thatcherite in charge of Labour.

    The difference between their success rates was down to the degree of loyalty/discipline within their ranks.

    It’ll be interesting to see how discipline is managed on both sides in the run-up to the next GE . The effect of the pull to the right within Cameron’s charges, and the pulls every which way among Brown’s.

  23. Party polls and politician “polls”

    I’d like to contrast 1996/7 and 2008/9

    In both cases, polls report 20+ margins in favour of the opposition.
    In both cases, polls report negative opinions about the members of the cabinet (even more so today)
    However, in contrast, in 2008/9, polls do not report positive opinions about members of the shadow cabinet.

    I’d like to suggest a thesis, and get comments:

    The thesis is that this apparent contradiction is a result of Labour’s news management. It is my opinion (based on memory – I hope that someone knows how to get numerical data) – members of Labour’s shadow cabinet managed to get far more face time on TV than today’s Tory shadow cabinet. In contrast, Labour ministers have managed to retain more TV face time today than Major’s Tories did.

    I suggest that party polls relate to the voters’ perceived opinion of the the economy, personal standard of living, etc, while opinions about individual politicians require the voter to *actually* see them. Because Labour has retained far more presence on TV than the Major Tories did, this would explain why Labour ministers are hated more (because they are seen more) while Tory shadow ministers are liked less (because the voter isn’t even aware of the MP’s name).

    Comments, opinions?

  24. @CynoSarges – I agree, it’s live by the sword die by the sword in this case.

    @Anthony – Sorry

    @JackR – Sorry

    The tories seem to be avoiding direct confrontation within the media whilst the government continue to have a difficult time. They are storing up the big hits (see Ken Clarke’s statements recently) and avoiding any return fire. This has the effect of protecting their Shadow cabinet whilst doing what I believe is an acceptable level of annonimity in not touting their future stars. This will change once an election is called.

    I believe we will see more 20+ margins over the coming months even if we cease to see many polls over 45%.

    With regards to an election, voter apathy and depth of feeling will be crucial to this campaign. Labour will find it hard to motivate people to vote for them. People who will vote will want change. I still see a landslide for Tory/Libs/Other that will eclipse the labour machine for years to come.

  25. “…eclipse the labour machine for years to come.”

    Of course you see it that way Keir – it’s a waste of time saying so though, becasue we all know you see it that way. Don’t give yourself too hard a time over it, just self-censor the really obvious bits and you’ll escape Anthony’s trusty sword of moderation. You’ll cease to wind-up equally convinced people on other sides to join in with “I still believe, etc ” ad nauseam.

  26. @ John TT

    Good points on De-Tox re discipline. There is a fair bit of comment about Cabinet ministers breaking ranks and putting their hats in the ring on Politicshome but it does not sounds as convincing as last summer.

    Ken C and David Davis seem to be Cameron’s most likley to break ranks but I cant see that happening in too damaging a way.

  27. Charlie – Do you really think Clarke is a threat to discipline? The only thing I can think of him doing to rock the boat is to call for those on the right to be muzzled – and even then I can’t see him getting caught doing so publicly.

    Clearly, Brown and Darling need a good budget in April – good enough to see them to the next Queen’s speech and Autumn statement. I can’t see Brown being ousted after then (though he might just go voluntarily in Jan 2010 if he senses he’s seen as the main problem)

  28. @John T T – Anthony will not moderate my comment as it was my belief of how the current trend coupled with the current political narative is going. Having been affected with voter apathy in the landslide victory of Blair, I can see this now effecting several Labour supporting friends of mine – Yes it can happen – we even have a lib in the family but we don’t let her vote :-)

    On a more general note, what do you think the response will be over Gordon Brown praising Jade Goody for looking after her family – Will they : –

    A, Think he is sincere and warm to him

    B, Think it is a crass political point scoring move concerning a woman with only months to live

    C, Not really care

    ?

  29. @Keir

    C not Really Care

    but then I am not sure who Jade Goody is apart from some recent press about her

  30. A point many of the contributors consistantly miss on this site is that as time goes on it always becomes progressively harder for the governing party of the day to motivate its lukewarm supporters-who number about 1 in 4 ot their total I would think-to turn out and vote. On the other hand the opposition supporters despite having an equal number of lukewarm supporters when they are in power become more and more determined to turn out and vote because of their increasing hostility to the government .
    It’s a story as old as the hills.
    If like John Major in 1996 Gordon Brown wants to stagger on until the last minute in the hope that Micawber like something will turn up he is perfectly entitled to do so but any Labour supporters who still think that the economy will recover sufficiently in the remaining 14 months or so to enable them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat are deluding themselves. For a start the million people including many former Labour voters among them-who will lose their jobs between now and May 2010 are not going to vote for the government .
    The game is up.

  31. The headline figures quoted by Mori are based on those certain to vote. If one looks into the details, the “all voters” gives a much lower lead.

    However, while 10/10 certainty may be pushing the filter, it is certainly the case that, notwithstanding where “opinion” or “preference” may be, actual votes cast will be significantly influenced by motivation (including work on the streets by the partes).

    What will be a stronger motivator at the next election ?
    Will it be the desire to keep Brown in office ?
    Or will “time for a change” be more potent ?

    For Labour to lose by a landslide, it is not necessary for their supporters to defect in droves. It is enough for them to shrug their shoulders and stay at home.

    Between 1992 and 1997 the Tory vote fell by 4.4m.
    The Labour vote rose by less than half that.

    In 2005, Labour’s vote was 9.5m, 2m fewer than when they lost in 1992, and 4m fewer than 1997, while their lead over Tories was just 0.75m.

    At the next election (2010), Tory leaning voters who stayed at home in 1997/01/05 have an incentive to vote, as will new converts. Disillusioned Labour supporters may either vote elsewhere or not at all.

    It is not unreasonable to expect the actual Labour vote to fall further by more than 1m, and a Labour vote under 7m is conceivable.

    Cameron does not need to push the Tory vote all the way back to the 14m recorded by John Major, or even the 11.5m “won” by Neil Kinnock, to secure a large majority, but a Tory vote of between 11-13m is entirely plausible.

    Such a scenario is supported not just by this poll, but also the run of recent polls, with the gap widening. It is difficult to see how that basic position may change, and the underlying question is not whether Labour will lose the election, but by how much.

  32. “He can’t really deny responsibility over the financial collapse”

    I agree with you john-but he does try very hard to do so.

    I have been listening to him very carefully over a few weeks-and he uses a very interesting version of the facts to avoid culpability.

    Today’s Press conference was an example. Pressed on the failure of FSA to spot the “systemic ” risk developing in the dramatic growth of our banks’ lending , he said that “no one” had expected the “wholesale markets” to seize up.

    This is a bit like saying that the drug addict who needed more & more fixes to feed his craving, collapsed & died because the drug supply failed.

    He died because of his addiction, without which he would not have helped generate the drug supply.

    The failure of the wholesale credit markets was a symptom of excessive risky lending ( traded ,securitised sub-prime debt) -not some totally unrelated & unexpected event.

    This is the same argument used by the ex Chairs/CEOs of RBS & LLoyds in front of the recent Select Committe hearing.

    The problem-they said-was the failure of wholesale credit markets-as though to say if only time had not been called on the bad loans we were making-we could have carried making more of them!!

    Brown employed the same logic at his grilling before the Select Committee Chairmen.

    He said that the failure of HBOS was not due to the failures of risk management which Moore alerted Crosby to-but their “flawed business model”.

    But the business model-exponential gearing, funded by wholesale providers rather than depositors, in order to grow loans on property during an asset bubble-was the risk .

    I don’t suppose any of this matters two hoots to those losing their jobs & houses-but I find it both interesting-and symptomatic ..

  33. “I’d like to contrast 1996/7 and 2008/9
    The thesis is that this apparent contradiction is a result of Labour’s news management. It is my opinion (based on memory – I hope that someone knows how to get numerical data) – members of Labour’s shadow cabinet managed to get far more face time on TV than today’s Tory shadow cabinet. In contrast, Labour ministers have managed to retain more TV face time today than Major’s Tories did.”
    ***************************************************
    I woulnd’t neseccarily disagree with this however there is one other factor to take into account and that is the cynicism that politicians are held in at the moment. what the polls seem to highlight time and time again is that in actual fact the british public don’t like politicians and want something completly idfferent but in the absence of that they will go to the next best thing the conservatives

  34. In terms of relative motivation may I suggest the key influence will come from local Councillors and other activists.

    If there are very few they may feel they have too big a task to visit everyone in their constituency, whilst if there are a lot then the task becomes very much easier.

    In other words if the Tories do well in this year;’s local elections the effect on Labour morale and its abillty to put feet on the streets at the GE could well be seriously damaged.

    Obviously similar considerations will appy to the Lib Dems.

  35. David D

    Yes, local election success is an important support for GE campaigning – both in terms of footsoldiers and morale.

    In the past few years Labour have consistently seen their number of councillors (and more importantly, Councils controolled) fallen, while the number of Tory controlled councils has risen. This has had a cumulative impact on party prganisation and ability to deliver votes on the ground.

    However, this year’s elections are only for the County Councils (and then not all due to reorganisation into unitaries last year) and a handful of unitaries. These elections are thus unlikely to have a serious impact.

    On the other hand, yet another set of bad election results, both at County and Euro level, will furtehr undermine party morale.

    Finally, since the County Council seats were last fought on the same day as the 2005 GE, one can draw a direct comparison with likely effect on parliamentary seats – in those areas which have elections.

  36. When you think about it, a government that has been in power for 10+ years, in a seriously bad recession, with an opposition leader who is reasonably presentable probably ought not to be doing very well anyway. Perhaps not to the point of being 20 points behind, but then that may be something to do with the current leadership.

  37. Nick Keene – TIME FOR A CHANGE – Theres no greater motivator.

  38. I would say theres several differant issues that mean we probably won’t see huge Tory leads;

    1. The Lib-Dems. A very solid 15-18% of the electorate are now Lib-Dem supporters. With a Labour core of 25-28% this limits the Tories ability to reach 50%+

    2. The Tories do still carry baggage from their 18 years in office. Cameron has indeed de-toxified the brand, but the negative perception has never gone away about the Tory years from 79-97. Fairly or unfairly a lot of the UK population believes the Tory years were one of never ending cruelty and unfairness. A lot of people still believe we were better before the Tories came to power in 79, than we were when they left office in 97. Remember, we have two generations who never knew what life was like in the 1970’s (other than from TV programmes like Life On Mars) and all they have go on is the myth and perception that life before Thatcher was rosy and life after was nothing but toil, suffering and misery.

    3. The public are generally much more cynical about politics and politicians. This comes partly from the sleeze of the Major years, but mainly from the failure of Blair to live up to the publics expectation of him. The public invested a lot in Tony Blair and by and large he let them down. For the Tories, it may be no bad thing that they will be starting their new term in government with low expectations, at least it gives some scope for the public to be pleasently surprised.

    One further sub point, people rarely look forward to having a Conservative government. There is a cycle that seems to take place every few years, which is Labour governments are elected on a wave of good will and general euphoria. They get themselves and the country into a mess. The Tories are then elected to do the painful job of sorting out the mess. After the mess is sorted out they are then booted out and cycle starts over again.
    In the 75-79 parliament, despite all the general doom and gloom at the time, Mrs Thatcher was often subjected to media questioning about her performance as leader of the opposition and why she often wasn’t doing well enough in the opinion polls. This is something the Conservatives do seem to suffer from generally when they are in opposition and the reason is that a Tory government isn’t something the public wants particularly, but its something they need when things go sour.

  39. @Anthony – I had a thought (sorry I will try to curb this habbit) – Could it be that the amount of Anti Labour (I won’t say pro tory) sentiments posted on this blog are not partisan but the current narative expressed. It’s like being at a football match when (in most cases) your team is doing well you cheer, when they flag a bit you cheer louder, when they look like they are on their last legs their own fans roar……..until the goal goes in and then they are quiet……by the second goal they are hurling abuse at their own side. Local and European elections will be goal one – GE will be goals 2,3,4,5,6,7….194 seat majority.

    @Gin – it’s been that time for the past 6 years

  40. @ Gin – you make some good points but you make some curious generational assumptions. Many people around my age (31) have had a Labour government for almost all of our adult and politically aware lives. For people in their 20s, the pre-1997 Tories are only a distant memory. The generational thing changes over time and, just as you have generations that barely remember or didn’t live through the 1970s, so do you now have a generation or two of voting age people to whom the bad Tory years also seem like so much ancient history.

  41. Do we have historical poll numbers for early 1986?
    I seem to recall big Labour leads due to Westland but a big Tory win in 1987.

  42. @Jim Jam – Clutching?

  43. “-as though to say if only time had not been called on the bad loans we were making-we could have carried making more of them!! ”

    The problem with your thesis, Colin, is that the “we” you are talking about are neither under the control of the Govt, nor would have been under any Govt. The wholesale markets were effectively self-regulating (Redwopod agreed with that concept – his idea was to allow the Mortgage lenders to do the same, and sell up to the Far East if they fell over)

    Brown is trying to avoid responsibility, true, but one look at, say, the path of the oil price over the last five years :

    http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/[email protected]&ftauth=1235031951272

    will tell you that it’s a bit more of a global issue than the simple “we over-mortgaged ourselves” thing.

  44. Jim Jam – I don’t have them on the site, but someone asked much further up the thread. The Conservatives were down to 24% or something like that at some point during the 1983-1987 Parliament.

  45. Jackr

    “In my opinion Gordon Brown isn’t half as bad as John Major was”

    I suspect that has to do with the amount of time spent waiting for an election.

    After the ERM fiasco, Major hung on for 4 years dragging the Conservatives down so far that Labour swept to victory in 97 and 01, while the Conservatives have only just managed to become credible opposition again (poll wise at least, I’m trying not to discuss individual views here). Had Brown called and won the 07 election, we would likely be discussing a similar situation. Recently elected prime minister, has crisis, becomes very unpopular, clings onto power for as long as possible in the hope that something turns up to regain popularity with, ultimately destroying his own party’s chances for a decade or more.

    What we have now is a crisis and an unpopular prime minister who is clinging onto power for as long as possible in the hope that something comes along. Could this destroy Labour’s chances for a decade? Ignore history at your peril.

    “I also ask myself if the next election is one to lose, not win”
    Funnily, Iain Martin did a satirical piece in the Telegraph recently describing Michael Howard imagining what life would be like if he had won the 2005 election. The piece closes with ‘perhaps the 05 election was one worth losing’. If you can find it, I’d recommend having a read.

  46. “clinging onto power for as long as possible in the hope that something comes along”

    I think he’s being more active than that – though if it keeps being spun that he’s just sitting there biting his nails and worrying, then maybe that will have an effect on public opinion.

    The cones hotline was an example of Major trying to find something to do that wouldn’t blow up in his face like Back to Basics.

    Brown’s deeds are rather more substantial, much more active, and I’m surprised Colin hasn’t pointed them out in response to the “Micawber” accusations.

    Even the VAT cut was was more substantial (its effect is mis-interpreted by people who talk about 30p off the price of a DVD player, but even if it were that ineffective, it would still be more active than anything Major did)

  47. Keir – asbolutely – I am a self confessed straw clutcher and I do realise Westland was exceptional
    Can’t do much more as it is clear GB will hang on.
    One small straw is the weighting system used by Mori and I await the next poll as a series above 45% for the cons mean game over and it is just about the victory margin (whilst the polls show 40-44con to 28-30lab range my straw is not so thin as a 4% swing back to an NOC is possible if not likely)
    I still think there is a chance of a Labour recovery or more likely a drop to below 40% for the Tories with a consequential Lab/LD rise as Cameron is challenged more and Osborne (my view) exposed more.
    As per Mark just above key target for Labour (may be not for GB) is to avoid melt-down.
    FWIW – I am not too distressed by the thought of a Conservative Gov’t as just as 18 years or Cons rule entrenched liberal economics, 13 years of Labour has entrenched social change.
    Cameron not just accepting but embracing civil partnerships for example and that Devolution is here to stay.
    It is not all about Economics for all voters (pace Bridget Jones) and Cam has done a very good job of neutralisng the nasty party image, not yet beyond the point of return but a period in Government will do that.

  48. “The wholesale markets were effectively self-regulating”

    If you say so john I accept that-but it makes my point if true.

    The surveillance ( to get away from the hackneyed “regulation” ) of our banks by the authorities failed to detect systemic risk ( or at least to vocalise it) in the exponential growth of lending & debt at NR, RBS, HBOS etc.

    That this growth was funded from wholesale markets, rather than retail deposits merely emphasises how far & how rapidly these banks were departing from the “boring but safe” model.

    To blame the collapse of the wholesale market-itself contaminated by securitised sub-prime-for the plight of over geared UK banks is to avoid the central issue which was & is the rapid growth & gearing of those banks and the asset buubbles they lent into.

    RE Brown-yes I do agree that he has been “active” john. The charge he will answer to though is not the one he flings at Cameron ( inactivity)-but lack of effectivity.

    This is what the public will judge him on-and I feel a little sorry for him because of it.

    This recession is like the proverbial OIl Tanker, and stopping it-or even slowing it is very very problematic.

    If we ever get proof of the Keynsian ( as interpreted) approach it will be in USA not UK.

    Obama’s interventions make UK’s look puny.
    And he is now proposing that the State erase/reduce mortgage debt to avoid foreclosure!

    Imagine the debate that would engender here-but we don’t have the funds,or ,I suspect the cojones.

  49. Total respect Colin, but the trajectory is more like a speedbost than a tanker, and very few people are saying with cast-iron certainty that it will take that long to turn around, or that effective action will not have any effect.

    Cameron vs Brown = Incoherent vs Ineffective.

    I agree that the “do nothing” attack should be replaced – perhaps with a “know nothing” one. From defending bankers at his conference to attacking them now from supporting the HBOS-Lloyds deal to attacking it now. It’s not re-assuring.

    Turning mortgage payments into rents wouldn’t be such a costly idea. My next-door neighbour wouldn’t have been turfed out because of his landlord’s mortgage being foreclosed, and we’d all have saved a bit as he was on benefits.

  50. Cameron vs Brown = Incoherent vs Ineffective.

    Quite like that actually!

    I realy think they have all been inchoherant to some degree-look at the ill-fated, much debated TARP in USA.

    Who will be effective -and why-is the big big question.

    RE Cammo & HBOS-I heard him on this-my understanding is that he doesn’t go back on his support-merely criticises the lack of due diligence given what we now know.

    Actually when you see the comments by Victor Blank in the pre-merger Jeff Randall interview you begin to wonder about the people running these organisations.

    At his Press Conference GB said LLoyds & HBOS had proposed the deal-nothing to do with him–they just asked him to waive competition rules.

    I think GB is pinning a whole lot of Polling hopes on G20.

    I think it’s a huge risk for him to expect to emerge as “saviour of the world” from it.

    I can’t see the Yanks buying into his International College of Banking Supervisors-there are clear signs that his plea for no protectionism is going unheeded all over the place-Euroland has some major cracks appearing in it-ECB now ticking off those with annual deficits more than 3% !!!!

    I can see no upside save unremarkable platitudes, and large downside in some awfull embarrassment factor.

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