The second new poll of the day is ICM’s monthly tracker for the Guardian. This is has topline figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 42%(nc), LAB 30%(nc), LDEM 20%(+2).

Clearly, as with the YouGov poll at the weekend, there is very little change indeed here. If one assumes this mornings MORI poll is something of a return to normalcy after some outlying figures, we really do have a very static and very uniform picture across the pollsters, with the Tories in the low 40s and Labour at or just above 30. The variation, as usual, is in the level of Lib Dem support, which differs for various reasons (not least, 13% of ICM’s sample was made up of people who claim they voted Lib Dem in 2005, while only 9.3% of MORI’s was – there are 40% more Lib Dems in the sample to begin with).

Putting the voting intention question aside though, there is a possibly more important finding – ICM’s semi-regular “time for change” question. As I’ve said here before, that’s a powerful message, the sort of narrative that sweeps governments from office (ICM’s Nick Sparrow once wrote that there were only really four really powerful messages in politics and all election campaigns boiled down to them – “Let us finish the job”, “Their policies won’t work”, “Don’t let them ruin it” and “Time for a change”).

Back in September 2006 70% of people thought it was time for a change. After the handover to Gordon Brown ICM asked the same question in August 2007 and found 55% thought it was time for a change, still high, but a significant drop: clearly some people’s desire for change had been met. In November 2008 the question was asked again during the “second Brown bounce” and 58% thought it was time for a change. Today the figure stands at 69% – pretty much back where it was before Tony Blair’s resignation.

113 Responses to “69% think it’s time for a change”

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  1. As I said, it’s more than 75% of the French electorate polled, not just the unions, not just the people who lose their jobs

    It’s the cap on tax @ 50% that galls them (in a manner of speaking).

  2. The French are easily Galled.

  3. “An economy in which Private Sector Directors & Managers write their own cheques regardless of their competence? -not any more I suspect-whoever is in power.

    An economy in which Public Sector Employees demand better pay & pensions than their Private Sector counterparts-guaranteed by the taxpayer & untouchable?”

    That’s clearly not the choice we have regardless of who wins the election.

    Performance related pay won’t go away but what we may well see is moves to link it more to pensions and our share options, so that you get your reward spread over the length of the effect of your actions.

    The idea would be that you can’t run a business in to the ground and walk away with a big check leaving others to pick up the pieces.

    So Sir Fred,s pension would be payable in phases based on the performance of the bank between now and when he reaches 65 and then frozen based on the performance over that period.

    Not ideal but it would at least address short termism and business could live with it, allowing them to still have bonuses that work as an incentive.

    Probably better done as a scheme of best practice that actual legislation I’d say.

    Secondly public sector workers may well be more than willing to accept wage freezes and voluntary redundancy if it avoids compulsory lay offs.

    Another possibility is a move to a 30 hr week where you work 4 days at 7.5 hrs or five days of six hours instead of five days of 7 hrs.

    You still lose 5 hrs pay but that’s maybe better than 1 in 7 losing their jobs.

    Depending on salaries and the NI threshold it could also be cheaper even without taking in to account redundency payments.

    We are in a financial mess and I think there will be huge pressure on Unions to be seen to be playing their part and indeed for Brown and Darling getting a headline deal of this sort with the unions could potentially be a vote winner.

    Probably not an election winner but it would certainly do them some good.

    As to this nonsense about Public sector pensions, the majority are contributary schemes and they average under £6k a week so I hardly find it a problem that people who have worked twenty years for the public get £100 a week when they retire.

    When people were leaving unions in droves to go into the private sector and taking out private pensions (that they thought would see them retire early and happy in their paid for homes because of booming share and property values) no one seemed to have a problem with public sector workers with their low wages, underperforming pensions and council houses.

    Now that the bubble has burst and peoples property and pensions ain’t worth what they thought they’d be suddenly the people who didn’t make their choices are the villians of the piece.

    I don’t think so some how.

    If people chose to put their faith and retirements in the hands of private employers, property values or the pensions industry and have suffered because of that, it’s not the fault of those that didn’t.


  4. That should of course have been £6k a year, as £6k a week is what Sir Fred gets……


  5. “That’s clearly not the choice we have ”

    I didn’t say it was-I was responding to John’s observation that in France, Public Sector workers protections appear to have general support.
    I said it would be interesting to see how our public reacted to a similar stance-should our unions prompt the question by striking.

    You may be right-our PS unions may be prepared to accept short time etc-we shall see.

    I disagree with your remarks about pension rights.
    That a scheme is contributory is not the point at issue.

    Salary related schemes place the investment risk with the employer-or future taxpayers where,as for large swathes of the public sector no actuarial based funding arrangement is in place.
    The pension is guaranteed to be related to salary & length of service.

    Defined Contribution Schemes place the investment risk with the employee -who takes the resultant fund , whatever it turns out to be & buys an annuity in the Market place.

    While such risk-free retirement funds remain the norm in the public sector, Aon calculates that 83pc of those in the private sector have closed to new members in recent years.

    While such risk-free retirement funds remain the norm in the public sector, Aon calculates that 83pc of those in the private sector have closed to new members in recent years.

    While such risk-free retirement funds remain the norm in the public sector, Aon calculates that 83pc of those in the private sector have closed to new members in recent years.

    While risk-free retirement funds remain the norm in the public sector, Aon calculates that 83pc of those in the private sector have closed to new members in recent years.

    “If people chose to put their faith and retirements in the hands of private employers, property values or the pensions industry and have suffered because of that, it’s not the fault of those that didn’t.”

    This amazing non-sequitur just about sums up the public sector ivory tower mentality-If you are stupid enough to work in the wealth creating sector that’s your fault-you should have joined the ranks of those protected by the taxpayer.

  6. Cllr Cairns,

    I think a lot of the anger felt by private sector employees towards public sector ones regarding their pension is a result of Gordon Brown’s decision to abolish ACT relief. You say “If people chose to put their faith and retirements in the hands of private employers, property values or the pensions industry and have suffered because of that, it’s not the fault of those that didn’t.” but the fact is that private sector pensions suffered heavily because of decisions taken in the public sector even before this crisis came about.

    They feel that the money going into public sector pensions (estimated to be anywhere between £100-£150bn) should have been in their own pension pot instead.

    Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Tories will undo this change – or whether they will see it is a nice little earner, thanks Gordon for taking the flak for it.

  7. The public sector -private sector pension gap has been further widened in this recession.

    Falling equity values have thrown Salary Related Pension Funds into massive deficit. In the Private Sector-those that are left will be closed down as their companies struggle with the recession & find it impossible to inject correcting funds into their pension schemes.

    In the Public Sector, funded schemes will turn to their Public Sector Employers who will cough up & charge the Council Tax Payer or Taxpayer. Unfunded Schemes will blithely carry on paying out pensions which are a charge on future taxpayers.

    For those in Defined Contribution schemes, the reduction in interest rates has seen a fall in the value of annuities they can buy of over a third-a penalty born by those new pensioners for the whole of their retirements.

  8. Public sector pensions were fully funded IF the govt (labour and Conservatives) had invested the money they received rather than spending it as income. The govt didn’t.. Both parties are to blame.

    Tough, we have to live with paying pensions to those in the public service as they have contributed all their lives to it and we cant then allow the govt to change the rules mid way. (Why? Cynically who’d be the party who drops public servants by taking away their pensions and shoving them into total poverty in their old age? Who’s be the winning party who says we cant allow this to happen and wins? Spot the new Public Servants Party sweeping to victory…)

    Fine, close / alter current pension schemes (the old Teacher one has already been change); different argument

    It is VERY Easy to argue that private sector employees want their cake and eat it too; Private sector employees had the better paid jobs, better working conditions and better pensions. Now the economy is (for a while) wrecked, private sector employees now want the lowest paid public sector workers to have had the worst jobs and no pension.

    Get real; where would be if the govt was allowed to alter any contract it entered into?

  9. “was responding to John’s observation that in France, Public Sector workers protections appear to have general support.”


    75% of the public support the strike on the basis that a 50% cap on tax is seen as wrong, and spending cuts are widely seen as wrong too. Nothing to do with protection of public sector workers or anything out of your imagination.

    The electorate over this side of La Manche have yet to be asked how far they would support spending cuts and tax cuts/caps at the top end.

    I suspect you won’t see many out on strike demanding such things.

  10. Interesting how the latest polling average is virtually the same as the 1992 election result for the Cons and LDs, but with Labour 5% lower.

  11. I don.t think any party is desperately keen on cuts of any sort.. Don.t the Scottish Tory Party have a policy of no school closures , even empty ones? It used to be just the Labour Party that made a living from the taxpayer now all parties do.

  12. “Eh?-Nothing to do with protection of public sector workers”

    PARIS (AFP) —

    “Unions and left-wing parties hope to draw more than a million people into the streets to demand a boost to wages and greater protection from the crisis….
    ….To cushion the economic blow as French unemployment soars past two million, unions are demanding that Sarkozy hike the minimum wage, increase taxes on the rich and scrap plans to cut public sector jobs….
    ….According to an IFOP poll published this week, 78 percent of French people believe the one-day strike is justified…..
    …..Polls suggest the crisis is already benefiting the extreme-left leader Olivier Besancenot, whose newly-launched Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) is named in recent surveys as the most credible alternative to Sarkozy’s government.”

  13. John TT
    “75% of the public support the strike on the basis that a 50% cap on tax is seen as wrong, and spending cuts are widely seen as wrong too.”

    So? 75% of the British public would probably poll against Gay sex at 16 or entry into a war against Iraq or FOR hanging…

    Peoples gut reactions to individual policies have almost no bearing on who they end up voting for. Thatchers ‘medicine’ in the 80’s must have been almost universally derided at the time but to what end?

    Fact is, if things are better for average Joe in France in a year or two, all is forgotten and Sarkozy wins his re-election.

    What the masses ‘think’ at any one time about things most don’t have a clue about anyway matters not.

  14. Ivan,

    “What the masses ‘think’ at any one time about things most don’t have a clue about anyway matters not.”

    You missed your vocation, you could have been a speech writer for Saddam Hussan.


  15. Peter Cairns

    You have on another thread done a sterling job defending the public sector via the local government workers up in Inverness.
    Is there any chance you can lend some of these stalwart sons of the Highlands to the good citizens here in the battered capital city of Edinburgh?
    At Edinburgh City Hall an incompetent Labour regime has been replaced by an even more hopeless Nationalist/Lib Dem coalition and neither lot seem able to get a grasp on the maladministration which for so long has bedevilled the workings of this council. Yes of course there are many hard working folk at the council who try their damndest but until and unless the deadwood and the timeservers are sorted out we will continue to get cock ups of which the tram debacle is only the latest if most spectacular example.

    Incredible as it may seem nobody in the council or the shelf company set up by the council to run the tram project took note of the rumbles of discontent coming from the contractors until -on the very day work was to start in Princes Street -the contactors pulled the plug for the reasons you will know about from your newspaper . Meanwhile because of a never ending stream of roadworks the city centre is in virtual gridlock. Why ? Because the joint council/ utility company can’t seem to agree when to meet let alone co-ordinate the works so that the same piece of road is not dug up three times in as many months.
    You may think all this is funny but how do I explain to visitors why it is sometimes impossible for them to get from one business meeting to another across town. And this is Scotland’s capital! Some advertisement.

  16. Peter,

    “You missed your vocation, you could have been a speech writer for Saddam Hussan.”

    It’s not fascism to ignore populist sentiment and to think about the bigger picture!

    As somebody obviously to the left of politics you, surely, must realise that most of the advances of the ‘liberal’ left have been achieved AGAINST the public sentiment. Gay rights, womens rights, freedom of religion and countless other causes that would never had won a popularity contest at the time they were enacted.

    All I am saying is that government should do what it thinks is right in the long term not just to appease the lowest common denominator in the short term.

  17. Nick,

    We’re not immune to inertia up here as something that will appear in the news in a few months will show. But the issue you talk about is down to good management and professionalism.

    If I’ll defend my SNP colleagues it is to say that in terms of running a city we’re pretty new to this.

    As with Aberdeen we are struggling to come to terms with years of what can only be described as atrophy and it’s not helped by the fact that in both cities we are in partnership Libdems who have often been part of the problem.

    The same thing has happened to an extent with the Government we haven’t given up on the “bonfire of the quangos” and we still think it’s right, it’s just turned out to be harder than we thought.

    It’s a bit like trying to operate on yourself without anaesthetic.

    As for the Trams we voted against it because;

    we thought it wasn’t worth it, it wouldn’t come in on budget, the money could be better spent elsewhere and why would anyone want to spend that money and two years digging up the city with the best bus service in Britain.

    The buses in Edinburgh are quick, clean, punctual and cheap and we are spending millions on a tram line that effectively runs from Parliament in Holyrood and the Civil service HQ in Leith.


    I’ve no problem with long term planning and government showing leadership on important controversial . What got me was the general disdain with which you seemed to view the opinions of the general public.

    I’ve met plenty of people who didn’t have a clue about politics and I’ve sometimes found it funny or frustrating, things like the people who genuinely thought that after the referendum Scotland was already independent.

    But I don’t have a problem with those who don’t focus or engage with politics, it’s not a crime or a problem and I find the notion that they can be just ignored slightly unsettling.


  18. @Peter Cairns
    Well said! Politics should serve the people, even if the people aren’t interested in the details.

    I find it unsettling that all the 3 major English parties (sorry, don’t know enough about SNP policies) are out of step with the public on many major issues – e.g. death penalty, membership of the EU, immigration etc etc. It’s all very well for them to claim to be an elite leading the ignorant people into a brighter tomorrow, but if they get too far out of step the people might use other means than the ballot box to make their feelings known.

  19. I’m looking forward to seeing some more Euro-election polls, especially regarding whether Labour can keep themselves above 20%, which I don’t necessarily think is inevitable. They won 23% last time when I think they were averaging about 35-38% in the national polls.

  20. Ivan – I really do hope Cameron takes a principled stand and advocates swingeing cuts in public spending.

    His problem of course is that unlike Sarkozy he’s having to do so from opposition. he doesn’t have the luxury of a couple of years after which the average Joe will forgive him and re-elect him.

    I’m surprised my rather obvious point was missed so completely. I was talking about what Cameron is seeming to offer, not what the govt is doing.

  21. Colin if you believe the French public are not in favour of the strikes, aI can’t really help you.

    It’s a bit like the Fire Service strikes over here a few years ago. Widespread support (without necessarily understanding the issues).

    The unions aren’t powerful enough to co-erce hundreds of thousands of people into action. The public support is there. They want more Govt spending in the recession, not less.

  22. “out of step with the public on many major issues – e.g. death penalty, membership of the EU, immigration”

    The fact is the public don’t fully understand the issues on any of these (or any other issue for that matter)

    It’s a shame, but elections are won on lost on the basis of gut reactions rather than understanding.

    That’s not to say that everyone’s thick, just that the issues are so complex that it’s only hindsight that can prove who was right to do what, when and for who. And even then, the arguments rage.

  23. Peter

    I agree with your critique of the decision to build trams in Edinburgh and especially your comments about the excellent service provided by Lothian buses.
    The tram chosen for this project is on show in an otherwise deserted Princes street and so in between meetings the other day I dashed along to see what we were getting for our half a billion pound investment. As a frequent visitor to cities like Rome I suppose I expected a similiar state of the art conveyance to befall my eyes. Not at all. They have chosen what is clearly the cheapest very tinny option( how typically British!) and given the way the seats are arranged whilst its fine for civil servants travelling all the way from the airport to Leith and having bagged those seats at the start the same cannot be said for the rest of us who get on elsewhere.
    As I write we are only a few hours away from the arbitrator in the dispute between the council and the contractors imposing a solution as neither side seems prepared to compromise. The SNP/ Lib Dem alliance may not survive the outcome .

  24. John TT

    Your posts above display a remarkable hypocrisy. We start with the absolute assertion that “The public support is there. They want more Govt spending in the recession, not less. ”

    On this we must doubtless trust the well reasoned, left leaning views of the masses eh?

    Then we have the issues of the death penalty and immigration where, of course, “The fact is the public don’t fully understand the issues on any of these (or any other issue for that matter)”

    One might assume that you feel that the public are only to be trusted when they think your way?

    As far as I am concerned I believe public sector cuts are the right way to go and that the Tories will hopefully convince the electorate of this. I believe they will be more suceptable to this argument as the recession progresses, whatever the view is at present.

  25. Two things should be avoided in a credit crunch;

    Raising taxes and cutting spending.

    Raising tax will take money out of the economy and slow it making things worse, even if the government does spend it later.

    Equally cutting government spending when they are one of he few people still spending will do no good either. As the vat cut has shown people are not in the mood to go out and spend so a consumer driven revival really isn’t on the cards at the moment.

    What would do some good is capital investment and if possible with it being less debt dependent. That would require not a cut in public expenditure by a realigning with less spent on wages and more on construction.

    Problem with that is that we have had at least a decade where both Tory and Labour have made more “teachers, doctors, nurses and police” almost a touch stone for political success.

    We should be looking at a gradual sliming of the public sector workforce and should be planning for it but with unemployment rising it would be counter productive to put large numbers of public servants on the dole.

    Where does that leave us?

    In terms of public spending we freeze it in real terms to all intents and purposes between now and probably 2012, while looking at getting people to reduce their hours and the wage bill while shifting more current expenditure in to investment.

    After 2012 we need to move to reducing the size of the public sector by limiting it’s growth to below growth in the economy.

    It has taken us twenty years of free market consumer driven growth to get in this mess and it will be a decade before we are out of it and in a state to weather another down turn.

    Rapid deep cuts in public expenditure aren’t practical, and would probably be counter productive.


  26. “One might assume that you feel that the public are only to be trusted when they think your way?”

    How do you discern”my way” of thinking? Read the comments policy. Accusations of hypocrisy have no place here. Neither does detailed exchange of views on policy.

    The fact is that the French General public (rightly OR wrongly Ivan) in a large majority support the protesters. How is that inconsistent with the view that people make their minds up without regard to facts?

    I’m flogging a dead horse, clearly, but if you want to, try and read my posts again whilst imagining that I’m not a rabid leftie, but simply interested in public expressions of opinion, whether or not that opinion is based on intellectual appreciation.

    Asking a lot, I know, but it might lower your blood pressure, and even make you seem less silly.

  27. “Two things should be avoided in a credit crunch;

    Raising taxes and cutting spending.”

    The corollary of that is that taxes should increase and public spending decrease in upswings. In microcosm, Osborne’s fuel tax modulation is consistent with that. i think it’s the central difference between sharing the proceeds of growth and using growth to pay down debt.

    Labour doesn’t SEEM ever willing to cut spending -, whereas the Tories SEEM to have difficulty with the concept of raising taxes. (Capitals to make it clear it may be a presentational issue, rather than ideology)

  28. John TT @ 11:07 & Peter Cairns @ 10:42

    It may well be a presentational issue since Denis Healey did indeed do the first in the 1970s (in real terms anyway) while both Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke did the second after 1992.

    While there may be good reasons for doing neither in the depths of the recession, as Peter rightly points out, as a country we are undoubtedly going to have to do both from 2010 / 11, and anyone who pretends otherwise is deceiving the electorate.

    There will of course be a separate debate to be had about what spending to cut and which taxes to raise.

    At the same time, we should also be having a debate about where we see the long-term objectives in terms of public/private service delivery and how to improve our country’s productivity to ensure that there is less demand for public services, especially welfare support, in general.

    Emergency spending cuts invariably fall on front-line sevrices rather than on the cumbersome bureaucracy which stifles future growth or improvement in service delivery. That is why future spending cuts need to be debated and planned properly.

    Of course there can also be some quick fixes from cancelling expensive white elephants such as the ID card scheme or Edinburgh’s tram.

  29. Paul H-J

    Not only are we going to have to raise taxes and cut spending from 2010/11, we’re going to have to do it on a scale that cancels out the years of budget deficits Labour ran during the growth years. In essence , we will have to double up the counter-cyclical effect. That is going to be deeply unpopular for whichever government has to do it.

    If people think the recession is bad, just wait until it’s over.

    John T T
    “The fact is the public don’t fully understand the issues on any of these (or any other issue for that matter)”

    What evidence do you have to back that? Have you personally asked every member of the public why they feel the way they do on, for instance, assisted suicide. How do you define ‘fully understand’? No politician fully understands the current financial crisis (if they did, they would have sorted it rather than throwing money at a problem and hoping it works) yet they are taking action. Would following public opinion have solved the crisis better? We’ll never know, but to disregard the public because they don’t ‘fully understand’ goes against the principles of democracy.

  30. Mark – I haven’t personally asked everyone – it’s just the impression I get.

    As I said, it’s not because I think people are stupid, but (as I think you agreed) the issues are complex.

    Personally, I’d rather people made informed choices, but it looks like we’re stuck with this rather unsophisticated system until we are better educated.

    I can’t work out how you come to the conclusion my argument is to disregard anyone, but then I’m still scratching my head about ivan ‘s input, so perhaps it’s me!

    Paul – “how to improve our country’s productivity to ensure that there is less demand for public services, especially welfare support, in general.” That’s it exactly. Growth should lead to fewer reasons to spend public money on public services. So where do the surpluses go then? Tax cuts, or debt reduction to recover from the last downturn? Labour I think reduced debt in the boom at the start of the century, but perhaps not by enough.

  31. Mark M,


    If the media were to properly publicise the extent of the fiscal deficit, the otherwise ignorant public might begin to understand the issue – and grasp that they have an unpalatable choice ahead.

    Of course, the nice man from Whitehall will promise to limit cuts in the services you use, while raising taxes on other people, so you don’t need to worry your head about the problem.

  32. An unpalatable choice, but not necessarily as obvious a choice as it was looking after Brown “bottled” the election in Autumn 2007.

  33. John T T-

    We’ll leave the ‘public not informed’ bit alone because it looks like what you meant and what is being read by others are completely different so apologies if I got the wrong end of the stick. You’re right that we agree that the issues are complex. I was speaking with my friend who works in the NHS who was detailing how dentists get paid. It used to be they would get paid for work done, so they would do lots of unnecessary work to get more money – now they get paid a set amount for a type of work (i.e. it’s £100+ whether they do 1 crown or 4) so it’s the reverse, they are not doing necessary work. That is only one tiny part of the NHS so it’s certainly complex.

    I do agree about the ‘unsophisticated system’ too. The biggest weakness of democracy is that a heroin addict’s views carry the same weight as a university professor’s, at least when it comes to an election. Unfortunately, it’s the best we’ve come up with so far.

    And yes, Labour did reduce the debt throughout their first term, but since 2001 we’ve been running a £40bn-£50bn deficit each year.

    Sorry Paul, I forgot that I was meant to keep the bad news on the down-low. If I was speaking to a larger audience I would be accused of talking the economy down.

  34. My head’s full of fillings from the “paid by the filling” era.

    Yoou’re not supposed to mention drugs, either – that’s all in the past now : )

  35. Oh dear. I’m breaking all the taboos today. I hope at least I’ve been non-partisan whilst doing it.

    Anthony, how about implementing an ebay style feedback for how partisan people are. The person judged to be least partisan at the end of each month wins the vanilla award or something similar. Something to keep us occupied whilst all the polls give a 10% Tory lead and therefore nothing to talk about :)

  36. As part of his feedback on the site ( when are we going to see the results Anthony?) we should have had an awards section where we could vote for fun categories like worse prediction etc.


  37. I predict at the next election;

    Lib Dem-20%

    SNP over 50% in Scotland.

    I’ll await my prize.

  38. “The ORACLES” :

    Most Partisan Post
    Best Prediction
    Most ORACLE – like post (Mike R excluded)
    Most Obscure Reference
    Silliest I.D. (not including Fluffy , who’d be a shoo-in)
    Most excrushiating speling (sick)

    Any others?
    see you on the virtual red carpet.

  39. Most Ingenious Way Round The Comments Policy

  40. Ahhh, now I know why he’s called “Ivan the terrible”.

    Nothing to do with an awesome power to inspire fear or do dreadful deeds. Just the quality of his predictions !

    Really Ivan, surely Mike the Oracle told you the correct figures will be
    Con: 58.3%
    Lab: 18.2%
    LD: 21.7%

  41. “The ORACLES”! Hilarious :-)

    “Live from Holyrood…”

  42. Ivan – you should win one for that!

  43. John TT

    “An unpalatable choice, but not necessarily as obvious a choice as it was looking after Brown “bottled” the election in Autumn 2007.”

    I think you may have mistaken the choice the country needs to make.

    The unpalatable choice I had in mind was between how much more tax we are going to have to pay or how deep we want to cut public spending. I would say that choice is now far more obvious than it was in Autumn 2007.

    Much as I would prefer to have tax cuts (along with enormous cuts in regulation and pointless interference) I recognise that this is not realsitic given the massive hole we are in.

    Until we can put the public finances back on a sound basis, neither tax cuts nor new spending programmes can be seriously considered, however desirable they may be.

    As to choosing between the idiot who not only got us into this mess, but seems to deny there is a problem, and someone who is prepared to face the grim reality, well, that is only unpalatable if it entails swallowing humble pie.

    The public will have far more respect for a PM who admits that he was wrong. Probably even more so for a PM who admits to not knowing the answer, or being unable to fix things. Denial of the problem, or claiming that the problem can be fixed by ever greater doses of what caused it in the first place, is not as endearing.

    Of course, either way, it will be “time for a change” – which is where this thread began !

  44. I agree with most of your thoughts Paul.

    However I’m not sure the Brown mea-culpa is something the general public is waiting for with bated breath.-It is certainly on Cameron’s shopping list , but that’s just party politics.

    Watching QT & similar fora, one gets the inpression that folk have pretty well understood the UK dimension of our recession-total abject failure of Banking oversight during an asset value & credit bubble.
    It is clear who was the responsible administration then .The NAO Report on NR just adds further to the picture of a completely out of touch Treasury.

    The Cameron speech I think is another move in the direction of the awful truth about UK public finances, though there is still far too much code speak for my liking.
    Does “More for Less” mean public sector pay freezes-or job shedding-or both?

    I like “examining all the activities of Government”-some will be easy-Quangoland will hopefully be attacked with force-others will be subject to the sort of fundamental thinking about the role of government, which is much more sensibly done in an atmosphere of stability-which we haven’t got.

    I like the unequivocal ditching of tax-cutting hopes for some years-that is honest.

    I love the suggestion from The Guardian that Cons should ditch their IT tax concession idea-that would test GB.

    Whilst Cameron feels his way towards the reality we all now recognise, Labour Ministers are in denial-stuck with their mantra about “no cuts”, when everyone knows they will be cutting if they retain power.

    If G20 goes the way it’s looking after the Brussels Summit, GB could begin to appear like he’s the one who is out of step.

    The Polling stasis seems to indicate that the public are waiting for something-I’m not sure what it is.

  45. @Colin – I wonder if the thing that people are waiting for is …well the question. There is a general election (actual) who will you vote for. Polling questions are all well and good, but how much soul searching do we really think goes on. I for one am very concerned about other matters at the moment that I have had little time to naval gaze about my personal veiws and beliefs. However I am expecting (this is not party political) a rather large shift in polling once a date is set (not sure which way, there is still a long way to go). I only state this as this is the veiw of my non politically minded friends. I could of course be completely wrong, but somehow the current mood feels different…charged but somehow directionless.

  46. Keir,

    I am not sure I would put it the same way as you but I suspect a lot of people are now of the opinion that Labour are out on their feet but that Brown will hang on till the last minute.

    If that is the case then there attention is far more on the recession than an election they really don’t think will happen for at least a year.


  47. @Peter – I agree, it’s just us geeks that keep on :-) – oh for a rogue poll to argue about

    Cons 75% Labour 25% Lib Dems 15% Other 32%

  48. Paul – re belt-tightening – the question really is when? During the recession, when the pain will be most acute, or when we’re back in moderate growth. We all know the quantitive easing must be reversed to avoid inflation spiral once the corner is turned.

    The unpalatable choice is now, during a recession or later, during growth?

    It’s not going to be so much a choice between old and new as it would have been had Brown stayed on his post-bottle course without the shock and squall of events.

    It’s going to be deep cuts and increased taxes.

    For Brown, that has to be a more positive situation than one dominated by “time for change” issues. At least he now has something to argue about.

  49. Keir, as a friend of many geeks, I have to say, don’t flatter yourself.

  50. WMA 42:30:17 so spot on. Apart from the rogue Mori poll everything is pretty static. All a bit irrelevant in a way – no-one I have come across (including some highly committed Labour activists) think Brown has any real chance at the election.

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