The Telegraph have published the first voting intention poll since the budget. The topline figures in the YouGov poll, with changes from their last one, are CON 45%(+4), LAB 27%(-7), LDEM 18%(+2). It was conducted between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.

Needless to say, it shows a collapse in the Labour vote with both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats benefitting, though the changes are probably slightly exaggerated since the last YouGov poll showed a rather high level of Labour support compared to other recent polls.

Two things are worth noting – first, this isn’t necessarily the result of the budget, this is also the first YouGov poll since the “smeargate” story, and some polls were already showing Labour down below thirty.

Secondly, it is possible for instant reaction polls to be too instant. Most of YouGov’s responses would have been received on Wednesday, before the print media’s pretty hostile reception today and the post-budget discussion of spending cuts. This poll may not be showing the full effect of the budget.


110 Responses to “YouGov Post Budget poll”

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  1. Let you deal with this Antony!

  2. @Cynosarges

    “There is every chance that Brown could be forced to call an election. The House of Commons may not have sufficient backbone to force Brown out, but an empty treasury caused by a refusal to buy the debt Brown is relying on may well be sufficient.”

    I agree. I was thinking about this senario yesterday.

    The markets are not buying Darling’s figures and have already priced in the need for the Government to raise 220 Billion this year rather than 175 Billion.

    Labour have already suffered one Gilt auction not being fully taken up. If the economic figures continue to be dire and/or Moodys + Standard & Poor remove Britain’s AAA credit rating then the writing could be on the wall, with Brown unable to borrow what he needs.

    The IMF would be the governments only real option at this point otherwise they would have to literally start shutting down swaths of the public sector.

    There would be a vote of no confidence tabled for sure and then it would be down to Labour MPs to decide whether to soldier on or go to the polls to save their seats in 2009 rather than risk things being even worse in 2010.

    It would only need approximately 30 to vote against the government. And there is definitely precedent for this. The last Labour government under Callaghan lost a vote of no confidence.

    Strategically speaking from the Lib Dems perspective I think they would probably prefer 2010 as they have more of a chance of getting close, getting parity or even overhauling Labour in the polls. I know it feels strange even thinking about that as a possibility and would be a political earthquake but that’s how bad things are for Labour.

    From the conservatives point of view they might get a bigger majority if Labour hang on to 2010. But if the IMF have been called in then politically they could make greater necessary cuts to right the finances.

    From the long term financial health of the country the sooner Labour are out of office the quicker the country’s finances can be mended. I don’t think anyone seriously believes Labour have the political will to do what is obviously necessary now.

    I’m glad I don’t have to be the one to do it. Nor pay for it.

  3. Keir – no, it would be impossible to quantify what counts as a firm pledge, or what counts as fulfilling it (or breaking it – what if it is superceded by events?). Neither are all pledges equal – breaking a pledge of “read my lips, no new taxes” is probably more damaging than breaking a pledge to provide more crayons. Unless they are very high profile as with Labour 5 pledges in the 1997 election, most of the public won’t notice them anyway.

    I’d be amazed if anything could come up with sensible data, let alone demonstrate any relationship.

  4. I know the regional breakdowns are rather unstable in these polls but the Tories have definately made god ‘average’ headway in Scotland recently.

    The breakdown for Scotland has the Tories on 27% and SNP on just 18%, 41% for Labour. Perhaps the firming prospect of a Tory UK administration is beginning to get the ‘left’ in Scotland to revert to type (Labour) and finally giving hope to the right to vote for their own (Tories) rather than lending their vote to the SNP.

    The prospect of half a dozen seats or so up there is not so laughable now I expect.

  5. Cliff – “And there is definitely precedent for this. The last Labour government under Callaghan lost a vote of no confidence.”

    That’s a rubbish precedent. In the vote of no confidence that brought Callaghan down not a single Labour MP rebelled, not one, not a sausage. One Labour MP was too ill to vote – he died 3 days later – but none rebelled against the government.

    Callaghan lost the vote because Labour didn’t have a majority in the Commons and he could no longer persuade *other* parties to continue backing him.

    You need to go back to 1895 to find a government with a majority losing a vote of confidence.

  6. @Antony – I was drafting the exact same response but maybe a little more partisan – only joking!

  7. I think it is a mistake to equate the interests of an incumbent prime minister with that of their party. If Brown (or for the matter of that Major in 1996/7 and James Callaghan in 1978/9) looses the looming GE it’s curtains for them. It is too much to expect that in most cases they will not stay in Number 10 for as long as they can if the writing’s on the wall. Whilst it may be better for a party to “cut their losses and go now” as it will be worse later, I doubt most PMs see it that way, so unles all experience is proved wrong and Labour develops a poll lead expect GB to stay where he is until March/April 2010. Sorry to be such a cynic.

  8. Above. I meant good not God. Obviously.

    Just as a follow up to the reaction Darlings Budget got in the press much of the media felt that his predictions were very optimistic.

    Todays GDP stats back that view up. A 1.5% reduction was expected, instead we’ve got a 1.9% fall in GDP. A very big difference which will make Darlings announcement of only 3.5% down for the whole year almost impossible to achieve.

    It is in fact the worst result since, you guessed it, the last time Labour left us in the s**t, in 1979.

  9. @ Anthony – I stand corrected, you are right no Labour MPs rebelled.

    Just seen the latest GDP figures. -1.9% for the first quarter of 2009. The recession is deepening. 2 days since the budget and Darling’s figures look pie-in-the-sky fantasy land.

    Cynosarges senario just got a step closer.

  10. I don’t think the idea of an autumn election is quite so far fetched, but not through confidence votes. I would expect the poll gap to close to a degree as people forgetthe immediate budget figures. The Tories will have to talk about serious spending cuts, as opposed to efficiency savings, and this is a tricky line for them to take politically. The international situation is of some comfort to labour, in that everyone is suffering but UK is not the worst. The debt is the problem, but that pain comes later. Brown may reason going early is his best chance, when we’re still in the crisis but before the bills come in.

  11. “The breakdown for Scotland has the Tories on 27% and SNP on just 18%, 41% for Labour. Perhaps the firming prospect of a Tory UK administration is beginning to get the ‘left’ in Scotland to revert to type (Labour) and finally giving hope to the right to vote for their own (Tories) rather than lending their vote to the SNP.”

    YouGov Scottish poll actually has Tories at 21% for Westminster- a good result for them. But the SNP are on 30% and Labour 32%.

  12. @Ivan – funny you don’t mention the improving Retail Sales figures, actually showing an increase on this time last year, house prices increasing for 3 months now – can’t pick and choose what indicators you want to believe.

    There some early signs which are being shouted down and ignored! I do though think 1.5% increase by the end of the year is incredibly optimistic, but if it turns out to be true it’ll be funny what these economics experts say to that.

  13. I still don’t expect an election any sooner than is absolutely necessary. Partly because who in their right mind would call an early election when they knew they wouldn’t win, but mostly because Brown didn’t call an early election when he probably would have won. I just don’t see how, during the next 14 months, Labour will ever be in a better position than back then.

    Interestingly, it was a Tory policy announcement that swung the opinion polls to make Brown back down. Seeing as we still hardly know any Tory policies, I wouldn’t be shocked if they were sitting on lots of them just waiting for an election to be called.

  14. @Cliff

    I’m glad that someone else has been reading the red book. It is obvious that Brown realises he’s in the sh*t, because has has announced a change from auctions (where the result is public) to syndicates (where the result is hidden). However, as I said, Brown can’t force foreigners to buy gilts. He may be able to strong-arm UK banks, he may be able to legislate and force pension funds to buy gilts (as he did in ’97), but he can’t force the foreigners. The only way left would be round-tripping of fake lending “bought” by RBS/Lloyds and immediately sold back through the quantitative easing window. And this wouldn’t fly, everyone would see through it. If the foreigners won’t buy, only the IMF is left.

    And, although the Callaghan fall wasn’t an appropriate precedent, I would suggest that Chamberlain’s fall may be far more appropriate. He failed to prepare for the war, he was an uninspiring war leader, and he was forced to resign despite winning the vote of no confidence. When Brown compared himself with a war leader, he chose the wrong prime minister. Chris Newey is whistling in the wind if he thinks Brown is guaranteed to last to 2010

  15. Steve,

    I was referring to the regional breakdown of the poll this thread relates to but I accept the ‘major’ Scottish poll is undoubtedly more accurate. Still shows a shift of the kind I was alluding to though, if a little more muted!

    Chris,

    What Rightmove says about house ‘asking prices’ cannot be compared to ‘actual’ GDP stats in order of relevance.

    I am not completely blinkered. I can see good and bad I assure you but you would need to be the eternal optimist to see more of the former at the moment.

    At the time of the Great depression there was a period of six months or so when the markets recovered slightly and optimism returned before a second wave of liquidations and asset selling began in earnest.

    It’s not just the ‘right wing’ press that would urge a little caution on optimism. History tells us to be wary too.

  16. “I do though think 1.5% increase by the end of the year is incredibly optimistic”

    What?

  17. Cynosarges – yes, that’s more likely – not be the government losing a vote of confidence, but a poor performance in one leading to Brown having to resign as Labour leader and being replaced.

    That said, we know there are diehard discontents on the Labour benches. If there was a vote of no confidence and 10 Labour MPs did vote against it, then would the shocking fact that John McDonnell et al didn’t support Brown bring him down?

    If Gordon Brown were kicked out by his own party, it’s probably more likely that it would be through a cabinet rebellion – several senior cabinet ministers privately telling him he had to go now, or they would resign and tell him to go. In practice, no leader can lose the support of their cabinet and survive (c.f. Thatcher and Charles Kennedy)

  18. @Ivan – Fair points, I just believe there has been an undeniable over emphasis on the negative. For instance, on the massive left-wing BBC (usual Con argument) the fact of improving Retail news is elbowed to other business news – with less important bad news on UK car production and Bay Trading entering adminstration taking prominence. It’s things like this that anger me and give the impression that the full story is not being told.

  19. @Cynosarges

    Re: The red book. Yes, as always the devil is in the detail. It doesn’t make pretty reading. And that’s without factoring in likely forecasts instead of wishful forecasts!

    I did read about Brown doing gilt syndications as well as sfuture auctions and raised an eyebrow. That definitely will help him in the short term but if things unwind further then all bets are off as you suggest.

    You can’t buck the market.

    Agreed on Chamberlin vs Brown. Hadn’t thought of that comparison but it is quite apt on reflection. I’m sure some Photoshop geek could replace that famous Chamberlin picture of him standing in front of the plane with the peace note from Hitler with one of our Dear Leader with an IOU note from the IMF.

    Would amuse me anyway.

    I imagine Brown’s next real headache will be the local elections. A meltdown for Labour then could see a repeat of the 2008 summer leadership jostling.

    But who have Labour got to replace him with? And does Labour really have the stomach for it, however dire things get?

  20. @Cliff

    I’m going to say no, Labour don’t have the stomach to remove Brown. Even if the party is massively divided they will stand by him to present unity. It is one of their great strengths and the electorate does seem to react well to it – certainly compared to the Major years and the pro/anti Europe Conservatives.

    I’ll have to have a google around for that Chamberlain photo :)

  21. @Anthony

    A lot depends on Labour MP’s perception of the reality underlying the budget. From a personal view, the 1.9% drop (which I did not know while writing my previous posts) changes my analysis. Brown and Darling would both have had the figures while writing the budget. The opposition & Labour’s backbenchers would not. So, within two days of the budget, we see that the numbers in the red book are ridiculously optimistic spin and that the authors knew this. The spectre of 1976 must now be at least in Labour backbencher’s nightmares if not filling every waking moment. A second IMF crisis could easily give the Tories a repeat of ’79 and Labour could be looking at four parliaments in opposition.

    So how will the back benches react? Rather than considering the usual rebels, consider the rank and file. Is it not at least plausible that a number of MP’s in Labour’s 150-250 safest seats decide that the best chance of saving their skins is to force an election before the IMF is called in? They are the ones trapped between a loss and a landslide, and while Brown may make decisions in Brown’s personal interest, these backbenchers may also make decisions in their personal interest. And might it not be in their personal interest to avoid having the millstone of the IMF around their necks?

  22. I must admit I think this perhaps ‘too instant’ as Anthony said–I’ll be interested to see if the figures hold like this next week. A poll can be taken whilst people are still watching /listening the news; but it is what is held after the media moves on which matters.

  23. Anthony, could you tell me what was wrong with my post at 12:43 so as I may avoid the moderation in future. It is surely not that im off topic because almost all of the allowed posts in this thread are on the topic of the budget, GDP, house prices.

    So a part of it must be considered offensive? Is it the line that includes the words “hypocritical” and “misleading?” Or is it the comment suggesting the numbers in ADs budget are lies?

    I get the feeling you are picking on small sections to justify removing the whole lot so that you can allow Chris Newey posts to go unchallenged. I felt there was some decent information in there regarding house prices that is relevant to the discussion you have allowed from a number of posters in this thread.

    I still dont get how you let so many of these incredible Chris Newey posts through then remove something from me that actually had some relevant facts from a number of sources.

  24. Its all Keir’s fault.

  25. M I blame the Oracle.
    All your links (I was one of the lucky few to read itvitriol before it was pulled) referred to a site called “housepricecrash”, which encourages bargain hunters. Hardly the land registry. The overall tenor of your passage (while rather attacking people than issues) was that everything is gloom and doom.

    I’m sure many people agree with you, but , if Anthony doesn’t put any of it back up in an edited state, I think most of us can guess what you said (and how you said it)

  26. Am I right in thinking the “Daily Telegraph” got LibDems and Others mixed up for the piechart they printed on page 1 of today’s paper?

    I think Stuart Gregory’s first comment is right; “it’s back to normal then”. As before 1997, the die appears to be cast, and the Budget has done nothing to change it.

  27. @M – sorry

  28. [edited – play the ball, not the man – AW]

    Back to the poll – Although it pains me to say I predict the polls will remain pretty static for a few weeks. The barrage of headlines will ensure this sticks -However, I do still believe or hope the electorate have yet to seal the deal with the Cons, as they did with Blair, and perphaps the recent fluctuations is a sign of this. Also another string i’m clinging to is the Cons only have a lead about half what Labour held in the mid 90’s and and this with the economic problems being faced.

    Again when the dust settles in a couple of weeks it’ll be interesting to see what the polls are displaying.

  29. @Chris – “Also another string i’m clinging to is the Cons only have a lead about half what Labour held in the mid 90’s and and this with the economic problems being faced. ” – This argument has been brought low before. The polling then was nowhere near as advanced as it is now. Labour were always overestimated in the polls and the Tories continue to do better than the polls. Consider also that labour are polling worse in labour constituacies than other seats and I would stop clinging and start looking for something soft to land on.

  30. Chris – you do seem very partisan if you are being eternally optimist and looking for anything to cling on.

    As has been said Labour is doing less well in their won constituencies than the headline figures. Someone mentioned that they could see the Lib Dems overtaking Labour at the GE – this is unlikely as Labour does have a solid 26-28% of the vote (baring some massive unforeseen disaster like us not selling all the bonds etc). We know the Tories have a solid 33% (1997, 2001 and 2005). Others always get somewhere in the region of 5-7%. This totals 64-68% which means the Libs could only get in the low 30’s and we know the Tories have increased by 8-10% thereby esnuring the Libs stay in the low 20’s.

    The polls have been fairly consistent the past few months and this is inspite of the G20, “smithgate”, “McBridegate” and now the budget.

    With regards to the Conservatives having detailed plans – one is that they usually get stolen by the Government (inheritence tax for example) and two they do not have full access to the books and the economic and budgetary situation next year could be much different. I would say the Conservatives with Michael Gove have spelt out an education policy (new parent run schools like in Sweden).

    One final point for Chris/Alec – the Conservatives ran a surplus in the late 1980’s and the % of GDP we had as debt went down to c.25%. Quite a difference from 80% we are projected to get. Also remember that recession seems to come every 10 or so years (I know it is 17 since the last one but that was exceptional). We will therefore have barely got the deficit under control by the time the next recession comes in 2020!

  31. JohnTT said:
    “All your links (I was one of the lucky few to read itvitriol before it was pulled) referred to a site called “housepricecrash”, which encourages bargain hunters. Hardly the land registry. The overall tenor of your passage (while rather attacking people than issues) was that everything is gloom and doom.

    I’m sure many people agree with you, but , if Anthony doesn’t put any of it back up in an edited state, I think most of us can guess what you said (and how you said it)”

    John, I dont think you got a chance to read it properly. Actually I did refer to the land registry, halifax, nationwide, and Chris Neweys preferred choice, right move. I suspected CN would have a problem with where the links point to. Thats why I said in the post “[You will try to discredit] this evidence by claiming these figures are not from the official sites. Feel free to confirm them at the official sites. They are correct. The above links were just chosen for their clear presentation.”

    In other words, the fact the links are to housepricecrash.co.uk is irrelevant. Anyone can confirm the figures are factual as much as you wouldnt want to. They are just more clearly presented at this site.

    This is basically my post with what I assume/think/hope are the offensive bits removed:

    ——–

    Chris Newey said:
    “@Ivan – funny you don’t mention the improving Retail Sales figures, actually showing an increase on this time last year, house prices increasing for 3 months now – can’t pick and choose what indicators you want to believe.”

    Chris Newey,

    YOU do not get to “pick and choose what indicators you want to believe” either.

    House prices have NOT gone up 3 months in a row. Rubbish. Unless you conveniently only accept the figures from Right Move. In which they are claiming the part month of April as one of the up months. Halifax shows a rise in only one month. Same with Nationwide. The Land Registry doesnt show any rise at all, although the figures only go up to February with them. But still that means they could only show a max of one month increase to end of March.

    Your cherry picked Right Move figures at this site:
    housepricecrash.co.uk/indices-rightmove-national.php

    And now the data you chose to ignore…:

    Halifax:
    housepricecrash.co.uk/indices-halifax-national.php

    Nationwide:
    housepricecrash.co.uk/indices-nationwide-national.php

    Land registry:
    housepricecrash.co.uk/indices-land-registry-national-monthly.php

    Averaging the % change shown by Halifax, Nationwide and Right Move gives:
    Jan 09: -0.43%
    Feb 09: -0.97%
    Mar 09: -0.03%

    Jan and Feb gets worse of course if you add in the Land Registry.

    (Knowing you, you will [have a problem with] this evidence by claiming these figures are not from the official sites. Feel free to confirm them at the official sites. They are correct. The above links were just chosen for their clear presentation.)

    And to sum up, if you think real house prices have hit their bottom you truly are [misguided]. See here:
    housepricecrash.co.uk/graphs-average-house-price.php

    Are you capable of recognizing the pattern in that graph?

    You think … Gordon is capable of defying gravity? You really think “this time it is different?”… (Notice in the 90s we also had that same flattening out blip when we hit the red trend line, before falling a decent amount more and staying in the trough for literally years.)

    ———–

    I then mentioned the Q1 GDP figures today and what wishful thinking ADs budget is already looking like.

  32. Guy said:
    “Also remember that recession seems to come every 10 or so years (I know it is 17 since the last one but that was exceptional). We will therefore have barely got the deficit under control by the time the next recession comes in 2020!”

    You make two very good points. Firstly we should have had a recession in 2001 but Gordon intervened in a desperate attempt to re-inflate the bubble. He succeeded that time, hence our even more serious situation today that he has not been able to stave off.
    Second, if all the intervention does have some effect delaying the inevitable, it will simple mean a “double dip” recession or long stagnation. You cant defy gravity forever, as we are now finding out.

  33. You’r eright, I skimmed it. Thanks for self-editing, it makes a difference.

    i dont have access to the graphs, but if you look for comparisons with other European countries, you’ll find a few commercial property sectors are more stable here re values/yields than anywhere else in Europe.

    Not great news by any means, but data exists that shows it’s not all desperate out there.

  34. As far as residential goes, it’s obvious that as soon as the bottom is called, investors will pile in (there are plenty out there waiting) to take advantage of 10% rental yields (which have shifted from ridiculously low levels of a couple of years ago).

  35. Your comments about timing of this Poll are interesting Anthony.

    It pre-dates the press reaction which has been negative-“dishonest” indeed is being bandied about today.
    It pre-dates the IFS analysis today which pretty much destroys the whole thing.

    So if this Poll’s movement is a function of McBride/Draper e-mails/Brown’s letters etc, there may be much worse news to come yet for Labour from Budget reaction proper.

    I wonder if there wiill be a Polling reaction also to the Brown initiative on MPs expenses. I thought Clegg’s & Cameron’s suggestions responded to the public mood much better than GB’s-particularly his defence of a daily allowance, that it would encourage MPs to turn up at Westminster!!

  36. John TT

    In all previous housing slumps it has taken many years of no change followed by a very sluggish climb in prices before the market takes off.

    This will be no different no matter what you hear.

    Not to be partisan in any way and only a note of caution to anyone hoping to catch the housing market before it ‘shoots back up’.

    There may yet be further falls (which there would have to be to get anywhere near 10% yields in todays rental market) and even if not there really is plenty of time to get back in without the fear of losing out.

    Why take the risk ’till they are seen to go up for a couple of quarters?

  37. As someone who is actually running a business in one of England’s regions I can confirm the following:

    1. House prices may be rising in some isolated areas, may be steady in others but I can confirm are still falling in my area.

    2. Bank lending to businesses is still not moving. In my area, almost no businesses are changing hands. There are plenty of buyers but they cannot get finance. In my own case, a good strong business and a good relationship with the bank has still not prevented them from making thr obtaining of funding even more difficult in the last three months. (Lending criteria have been reviewed and changed at least twice )

    3. Our town now has 64 empty shop units. There are a further three busineses with closing down sales now on.

    4. For every job locally, there are now eleven people chasing it. Many of the applicants do not even have basic skills and are unemployable.

    The polls are indeed fascinating but really are an aggregated reflection of people’s views based upon circunstances such as those above. Politicians and proto politicians can bicker about individual stats but really the bigger picture cannot be ignored. It is grim out there and set to get grimmer. Only a long hot summer will give us some light relief.

  38. In considering the possibility of an early election it was reported that one reason for GB producing his proposals for MP’s expenses was a report to him by the Chief Whip that the info being made available in July would be so damaging that a number of MPs would have to resign with consequential by elections.

    If that is the case then the absence of approval for GB’s proposals, (which looks very likely) could provoke all sorts of reactions.

    I don’t think any of us should discount action by his Cabinet Colleagues or by GB himself. When one is so obviously cornered, logic is not always the most common reaction.

  39. Well, that wasn’t a bad guess was it!

    I punted for:
    Con 43
    Lab 27
    Lib 19
    Oth 11

    Looking at the weather, I genuinely think Labour are going to be lower in the polls this summer than last…

    I’m going to go for Labour dropping to 23% over the summer, and the LibDems getting awfully excited about it, with the odd poll possibly putting the LibDems a point ahead of Labour at some point during the summer.

    I doubt the Tories can maintain 45% all the way (to the next election), but I can’t see them dropping below 38% for a long time.

    A hung parliament would not be a good thing… chances are it’d see a LibLab coalition, which would be an abomination!

    I think the Housing/Unemployment tsunami will hit in October (after a summer of denial)… nothing but bad news all the way through the new year… Labour will cling on pointlessly I imagine.
    House prices are conservatively estimated to have dropped by 25% by the end of the year; with the descent slowing over the course of 2010.
    I’m almost certain they’ll have less than 200 seats next election… they are destined to be savaged at the polls… the question may be not “what’s the swing”; but rather, is the Labour movement facing impending destruction?
    They’ve split before to form the SDP… I think there’s enough enmity there for the old Labourites to blame the New Labourites for the next election result, and enough to tear the party apart… John McDonald and co leading a leadership bid etc…
    I can’t see what the “young Turk” career politicos of New Labour are going to do without any prospect of a career in government, other than to go down in flames forming a new SDP…

    If you regard the P2E ratio graph as a divergent phugoid with (yet!) another cycle in it, then the bottom of this depression would be circa 2015/16. That’s good enough for the next government to be able to take credit for it…

  40. @Hardpressedtqy

    Thanks for the summation of events on the ground. How big is your town roughly? So the 64 empty premises can be put into perspective.

    “Only a long hot summer will give us some light relief.”

    I think the government will hope it will be cool, overcast and rainy otherwise the spectre of riots will be on the horizon.

    @David D

    That is an incendiary revelation if true. Any idea if it was a broad crossparty issue or mainly confined to Labour?

  41. out of 650 of them, there’s got to me more than Jacqui Smith with something undignified to hide… if it comes out before the Euros, it could be an “interesting” result.

  42. Why is my comment of many hours ago tagged as “awaiting moderation”? It’s not especially partisan and is a mere tadpole in the water with the crocodile fights going on here.

  43. I have long thought that Brown’s only chance of winning the next GE would be if he had gone to the nation at the very begining of this year. Even if Labour didn’t win, then they could have lost with some dignity..

    Now? Only a massacre awaits them, the repercussions of which will be, as already mentioned by earlier bloggers, a probable wholesale restructuring of the Labour party. Possibly even a split.

    For too long have the Blairites and Brownites been sniping at each other and a GE nassacre will simply see an unbridled Labour descend into its own civil war.
    Not that this is a bad thing, for every party has to ‘redefine’ itself from time to time – usually after a mauling at the polls, when even the most robust of political egos is forced to accept the true reality of its relationship with the electorate. It’s such a shame that such a redefining always seem to need such an electoral humiliation to kick into action.

    I have always voted Tory, but I am saddened to see now the total absence of political integrity in the Labour front bench. The former Labour big-hitters are now sadly missed for their vision, balance and fairness – Hattersley, Benn, Shaw, Cooke and even Foot and Callaghan. Although often mocked and reviled for the political stance they still tower over the inadeqate and insignificant successors.

    So sad, to see a political party forgetting its very purpose and bereft of even the simplest of ideas, with its leader frantically nailing the lid on its coffin – from the inside!

  44. Possibly off-topic – Anthony, please remove if you feel fit. (While I’m thinking about the second question, I’m primarily interested in obtaining an authoritative statement on my first question, so if Q2 is deemed partisan, please remove)

    1) Question of practise: Common wisdom says that if a minister lies to Parliament he must resign. Is this correct, and is anyone (say the speaker) required to make a ruling?

    2) Question of opinion: In the Budget, the chancellor said that the economy shrank “by a similar amount” to the fourth quarter. (i.e. 1.6%) Since the Chancellor had the ONS 1st quarter figure (1.9%) released to him before the budget, does this give him enough wriggle room, or did Darling lie to Parliament?

  45. Darling could conceivably argue that -1.6 was similar to -1.9. Even though it is not. Also it would need to be proved that he had actually seen the ONS figure.

    As to common practice, I think it needs to be proved that the minister intentionally misled the house, or wouldn’t they just issue an apology admitting they had made a genuine mistake?

  46. Cliff,

    The report I saw was relating to Labour MPs but of course there may be (and probably are) others. Nonetheless if there are by elections then it must surely be Labour who would be most concerned at the outcome.

    Of course GB could call a GE if they were thrown out and argue that

    1 only he was serious about MPs putting their houses in order

    2 he needs a fresh mandate to implement the necessary changes the ‘do nothing’ party won’t tackle

    Of course the outcome might be only too predictable but he would be able to claim, however unrealistically, that he went down on a matter of principle and not low politics!!

  47. @Hardpressedtqy – It’s gpoing to rain this weekend.

    @Cynosarges – It is against the rules to call someone a liar in the house.

    I read some books a while ago now that had a group of people who werre not allowed to lie. In fact they were magically bound to tell the truth. So they did and the trust in them went down as they hid the truth in other thruths. What does this teach us? That you should never believe what you hear and should try to understand the general principles of those involved when weighting their answers. If you actuall got rid of every politician who lied or hid the truth, then there wouldn’t be many left.

    @Cliff – this is correct (see Jaqui Smith) and then it comes down to them being able to maintain real authority with a mark like that against their name. This of course is back to persoan principles – Jaqui Smith, Mcnulty and Balls are lacking – in fact even mcbride had more (on this practice alone)

  48. I know it’s true in theory that Labour cannot be forced to hold an election but I’m not sure that it’s true in practice. We are in un-charted territory here.

    For example, if we have to go to the IMF it might be impossible for Brown to continue. Realistically there is no prospect of a recovery until we have a government with a popular mandate and Brown has none.

  49. @NBeale – he never has, but we don’t elect PM’s – it’s the one thing that needs to be taken out of our electorial system. As happens in other monarchy states in europe, when the head of gov changes then an election is called. Gosh that’s almost republican of me, but hey it’s friday night :-)

  50. Cynosarges,

    National statistics must have strict protocol over the realease times of data to ensure no foul play in the money markets.

    I’m a real cynic when it comes to Labour but I can believe Darling was just plain unaware of what the release had in store. He just got his forecasts wrong. Plain and simple.

    I don’t think they are lying or up to anything sinister I just believe they’re mind bogglingly incompetent.

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