ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has finally appeared (it was conducted on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Chistmas, but presumably held back till today’s paper when there is normally no proper news to report!). Topline figures, with changes from the ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll straight after the veto are CON 37%(-3), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 15%(+1).

The rest of the poll had some questions on economic optimism (unremittingly negative, as usual), and on leadership qualities. On overall approval Cameron’s net rating is plus 5, Miliband minus 17, Clegg minus 19. On the figures shown in the Guardian 55% of people think Cameron has “the courage to say what is right rather than what is popular”, 50% think he is “good in a crisis”, only 34% think he “understands people like me”. For Miliband 41% think he has “the courage to say what is right rather than what is popular”, 37% think he “understands people like me”, 21% think he is “good in a crisis”.


325 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 37, LAB 36, LDEM 15”

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  1. HOODED MAN

    So you are a dreamy romantic after all! :-)

  2. @ Anthony Wells

    Your analysis of what is required in an opposition leader is both fascinating and insightful.

    I think that for some oppositions, they can make a mistake in dumping a leader and choosing a new one too quickly because they expect to be back in power soon. The problem there is that the party is too busy thinking of how to win the last election and not the next one. Then the party also makes a mistake of not reforming itself or making key changes that it needs to make but instead focuses on just winning. This can lead the party into further and deeper troubles.

  3. Rob,
    I recall that your view, contrary to mine is that the Coalition will not last the full course; I forget when you think it will fold although maybe a move to C&S is your new position.
    I very much doubt a new 2010 intake leader be helpful in a early GE if only in office for a few months?

    Sadly I share your view about those suffering (imo needlessly) but differ with you about any alternative leader making any difference. After 13 years there will be sufficient ABLab sentiment around in 2015 (or earlier)
    We are in 87-92 mode with EM Kinnock mark 2, instituting proper policy reviews and trying taking strategic decisions.

  4. Old Nat,

    Aye, Connor Macleod :-)

    Without re-opening the subject, just had an hilarious Boxing Day dinner where the conversation with my Hampshire Marxist family escalated to a full-scale commitment to ‘evacuation’ on the day of MTs “state funeral”…….sounds mildly principled until you realise that they will decamp to their second home in France…….
    Only large doses of scotch can get one through that…… ;-)

  5. @Boo Boo

    An interesting and detailed analysis.

    “…in the end they’ll either bottle it (D Miliband) or the coup does not work (Hewitt and Hoon)”

    To which I would add a third scenario: EdM (unlike Brown) will step aside when he fully realises he is an impediment to both a Labour outright victory and to largest party status. The latter Is very important as the most likely scenario after the next UK GE is a hung Parliament (with an increased SNP prescence).

    My prediction for this voluntary ‘tot ziens’ is late 2013/ early 2014- by which time several (though not all) of his fan club here tonight will have changed their minds; because you can’t teach charisma and his won’t have increased by then; and after the new boundaries have been voted through and concomitant house of commons seat calculators look remorselessly bleak.

  6. @ Top Hat

    “You mean, a little closer to the American primary system?”

    You wrote that in response to Anthony’s post. Anthony wrote:

    “Imagine a scenario where the party leadership remained vacant away from an election, with a party chairman filling the effective role of party leader and leader of the opposition until a year or so before the general election when the party elect a Prime Ministerial candidate, possibly through public primaries to build up a bandwagon of popular support. Sometimes of course the party chair would be fought by people who wanted to use it as a staging post for becoming that leader (and sometimes they’d manage), sometimes it could be held by a reliable party elder whose own ambitions were exhausted, keeping the party together through tough times and nurturing talent for the future.”

    The only thing I’ll note is that even though both parties have Chairmen who lead their parties, none of them are ever recognized as the “leader” of their respective party. Usually the public views the “leader” of a party as whoever the highest ranking leader in that party is. So I’m not sure Anthony is proposing something that would move closer to our model.

    I think the Canadian Liberals are trying something similar to Anthony’s approach right now (after making all the same usual mistakes of a parliamentary opposition party Anthony described). After being devastated in May of this year, they have installed a temporary leader who will lead them for no more than 2 or 3 years and fix problems within the party and attempt to rebuild the party. Then in 2 years, they’ll hold a new leadership contest (which the current interim leader can’t participate in) and select a permanent leader who will hopefully do better than the last couple of leaders they’ve had.

    (IMO, our system of primaries is excellent for picking party nominees for political office…..except the system for picking the president, in which case it’s absolutely terrible. That goes for both parties too although I’ll admit that the Republican Presidential Primary system is a little better than the Democratic Presidential Primary system.)

  7. JimJam

    My view for 15 months has consistently been that the next election will be sometime between 2013-2015 with the LD membership forcing Cleggs hand- after a third consecutive thrashing in the locals in May 2013- to try and extract concessions/ policies that Cameron’s right will refuse.

    Whereupon it’s either C&S, a LD schism with orangies staying on to give Tory-Orange a slim majority or an early election.

    I happen to think its likely to be the first- and earlier tonight said in response to amber that this would be an opportune moment for EdM to do his Captain Oates schtick.

    Whichever though, a new leader would help in all three scenarios.

  8. HOODED MAN

    Didn’t they have any decent Armagnac? :-)

  9. @ Old Nat

    “I’m glad that becoming a SPAD is not one of your ambitions. Stick to your guns and yield not to temptation!”

    What is a SPAD exactly? And why is it so tempting? Is becoming one neccessary in order to have a successful political career?

    @ Top Hat

    “No SPADship for me; that’s a terrible fate to wish on anyone!”

    What’s so bad about this?

  10. SoCalLiberal

    SPAD = Special Adviser (to a party or politician)

    Increasingly, parties take on keen young members, pay them appallingly, overwork them – but often they are then selected as candidates.

    Frequently, they have done nothing outwith politics but they have learned to conspire within their party, and toe the party line – no matter how ridiculous.

    They are the acne on the body politic.

  11. @ Rob Sheffield

    “My view for 15 months has consistently been that the next election will be sometime between 2013-2015 with the LD membership forcing Cleggs hand- after a third consecutive thrashing in the locals in May 2013- to try and extract concessions/ policies that Cameron’s right will refuse.”

    What would be the point of this though? It seems like a boneheaded strategic move all around.

  12. @ Old Nat

    “SPAD = Special Adviser (to a party or politician)

    Increasingly, parties take on keen young members, pay them appallingly, overwork them – but often they are then selected as candidates.

    Frequently, they have done nothing outwith politics but they have learned to conspire within their party, and toe the party line – no matter how ridiculous.

    They are the acne on the body politic.”

    Thanks for the explanation. By paying them “appalingly”, do you mean they’re paid far more than they should be or far less?

    I can understand the desire to become a SPAD. It’s an established route into politics. For those who envision themselves one day holding elected office, especially young people who love politics, I would imagine that this is a reccomended course of action. I also think it’s kinda par for the course in Europe. This is a gross overgeneralization of course but it seems like in Europe, if you want to serve in elected office and be a leader within your party some day, you basically have to follow a very narrow path. You have to attend the right school, work for the right campaign committee, and have the right connections. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to do much (even if you do get elected, you’re not likely to advance in the ranks).

    There are other careers in politics besides that of holding elected office though. When I think about a future career in politics, I don’t just think of elected office (something I’m unlikely to ever do) but I think about those who run campaigns, those who are chief speech writers, those who are professional pollsters, those who are top press secretaries, and those who create ads. Does becoming a SPAD open those doors? Or does it just open the doors to elected office?

    We don’t have anything close to SPADing here. I don’t think it can exist in a system where you have primaries.

  13. Socal

    You clearly don’t understand the foot soldiers of the LDs- and more to the point the fact that the Federal constitution of that party gives people outside the Westminster hothouse a major say in the direction of the party.

    Many will lose their seats and council leaderships/ cabinet positions in May 2012 and May 2013.

    This is a clear situation where a UK political phenomena is difficult to grasp / see the logic of (for our yank cousins).

    Though I am not ruling out some Yanks nodding in agreement: tea party peeps who want no compromise with Obama on anything whatsoever…..even if it means increasing the payroll tax because their oil drilling amendments are refused or closing down the Federal government because they won’t raise the debt ceiling…..they would recognise such an approach in all probability.

    You see there comes a time when your ‘base ‘ simply has had ‘enough’: and for the Lib Dems that means change because they have a very democratic party management structure.

    In reverse I guess many UK politicos don’t understand why Republicans can vote in some Democrat primaries and vice versa.

    To me that invites spoiling tactics by the registered voters of the other side.

    That seems totally bone headed to me!

  14. SoCalLiberal

    “By paying them “appalingly”, do you mean they’re paid far more than they should be or far less?” :-)

    I suppose both could be the case!

    I don’t if “the right school” matters outwith England, it wouldn’t be relevant here. Certainly having the right connections is critical, everywhere.

    Again, I don’t know whether what happens here is common to Europe, but speech writers and press advisers are often recruited from the ranks of sympathetic journalists, professional pollsters work for the polling companies, not the parties.

    Campaigns are normally run by politicians, as opposed to by separate professionals, though they will draw on a wide range of experience if they have any sense.

  15. Rob Sheffield

    Do you have local government elections every year?

  16. Oldnat

    Depends where!

    Outside of London (every 4 years with GLA in 2012) there are unitaries, mets and two tier.

    For a significant proportion of English councils, its a third every year with none in the 4th year on a rolling bais with different start points for the cycle based around when the council was inaugurated.

    So, for example in 2013 there are 27 county and 7 unitary elections in England = 34 in total but BIG councils and important for LDs.

    But in 2012 that number is 128 in total (plus all Welsh and Scottish) !

    ;-)

  17. @ Rob Sheffield

    I happen to think its likely to be the first (C&S) – and earlier tonight said in response to amber that this would be an opportune moment for EdM to do his Captain Oates schtick.
    ————————————–
    I hate to keep beating the same drum but there is not a snowflake’s chance that Ed M would step aside at a time when the Libdems move to C&S.

    The game has changed, in a way which Ed M might be able to take advantage of, & he walks off the field… why would he do that?
    8-)

  18. @ Old Nat

    “I suppose both could be the case!”

    Traditionally, people who work for campaigns get paid very little. Usually with the hours that are demanded, the pay works out to half or less than half of minimum wage. That exclude those at the very top of the campaign who make a great deal of money. That’s why most people who work on campaigns do it out of a belief in that candidacy.

    “I don’t if “the right school” matters outwith England, it wouldn’t be relevant here. Certainly having the right connections is critical, everywhere.”

    Isn’t every single UK Prime Minister an Oxford alum except for John Major and Jim Callaghan? That would seem to suggest that there’s a “right school” requirement for being Prime Minister and a serious Cabinet position. Having the right connections shouldn’t be but unfortunately is important when it comes to numerous jobs. With that said, politics here typically is one of those areas where connections aren’t all that important. Party establishments can often make endorsements but those endorsements don’t mean that one will be the party’s nominee. I remember in 2006, there were a number of Democratic Congressional candidates in key target districts who were handpicked by Rahm Emmanuel. None of these candidates wound up entering Congress. Not because Rahm made bad tactical decisions but because Primary voters didn’t vote for any of them.

    “Again, I don’t know whether what happens here is common to Europe, but speech writers and press advisers are often recruited from the ranks of sympathetic journalists, professional pollsters work for the polling companies, not the parties.”

    Strange.

    “Campaigns are normally run by politicians, as
    opposed to by separate professionals, though they will draw on a wide range of experience if they have any sense.”

    How do you run a campaign and run as the candidate at the same time? Outside of very small offices that are typically local, it seems almost impossible.

  19. Amber

    Ditto about beating my particular drum: but he’d step aside in late 2013 for the good of the party because by then it would be abundantly clear that he was not taking us to where we needed to be electorally- both VI polls and leadership/ personal ratings vis Cameron; and was not making any inroads in terms of charisma/ message communication; nor resonating with non left wingers (we won’t win doing things solely for the left wing ‘we have our party back’ constituency) or the need for an honest cuts lite economic policy that non alligned voters are prepared to believe.

    I happen to think he’s an honourable man and psychologically able to make the gesture for his party (unlike Brown).

    It’s all his “supporters” who claim he’ll refuse to look electoral math and facts squarely on and grimly hang on to the detriment of his party !!!!

  20. @ Rob Sheffield

    “You clearly don’t understand the foot soldiers of the LDs- and more to the point the fact that the Federal constitution of that party gives people outside the Westminster hothouse a major say in the direction of the party.

    Many will lose their seats and council leaderships/ cabinet positions in May 2012 and May 2013.

    This is a clear situation where a UK political phenomena is difficult to grasp / see the logic of (for our yank cousins).”

    Does their party allow its non Parliamentary voters to change the leader on their own motion? If so, I can understand your prediction of Clegg being replaced.

    But your scenario suggests that the Lib Dems will force Clegg to go back and renegotiate with Cameron for concessions that Cameron won’t give (even if Cameron agreed with some of them, he could never get his party’s support for them). Basically, they’re asking him to go climb Mount Everest blindfolded. Then after Clegg fails to climb Mount Everest blindfolded, the party will replace him and ultimately trigger a new election. But how will this game of political chess make any impact on the public? And once an election is called, even without Clegg there, won’t the Lib Dems get trashed anyway?

    That’s why I say it doesn’t make much sense.

  21. @ Rob Sheffield

    “In reverse I guess many UK politicos don’t understand why Republicans can vote in some Democrat primaries and vice versa.

    To me that invites spoiling tactics by the registered voters of the other side.

    That seems totally bone headed to me!”

    Actually, they can’t. The only way that can happen is if someone specifically reregisters their party status. But then that person belongs to the party whose primary they’re voting in.

    The only variation on this is that in some states, party primaries are closed to only members of that registered political party. In some others, those who are unaffiliated with either party may vote in the primaries. But there are no party primaries where people who belong to other parties may vote in that primary.

  22. Socal

    I never said Clegg will be replaced though there is a tiny possibility of a leadership challenge. My predicted scenario of C&S could take place with Clegg as leader or not as leader.

    Second scenario- If he stays on with the orange book types he would be their decfacto leader though not the leader of what is left of the paliamentary ‘liberal democrats’. Unlikely though and depends upon what the polls look like and if there is the option of a coupon quid pro quo given by Cameron for the GE of 2015.

    An early election (the least likely IMO) could see Clegg as leader in that campaign…..or not.

    The Federal Policy Committee of the Liberal Democrat party is one thing for you to google and enlighten yourself; along with their spring and autumn conferences.

    Luckily for the Lib Dems in parliament the spring 2013 conference is before the May 2013 local elections which include EVERY seat in all 27 English counties…..but then we have the autumn 2013 conference…..

  23. @ Rob Sheffield

    “Though I am not ruling out some Yanks nodding in agreement: tea party peeps who want no compromise with Obama on anything whatsoever…..even if it means increasing the payroll tax because their oil drilling amendments are refused or closing down the Federal government because they won’t raise the debt ceiling…..they would recognise such an approach in all probability.”

    The Lib Dems can’t be possibly as psychotic and filled with racist and hatefilled anger as the Teabaggers. The reason the Teabaggers can have such an influence on the GOP is because of the primary system. If the Lib Dems select their MP candidates by primary, then the Lib Dems have something to fear. But if not, I think things are different.

    One small correction. They wanted to increase payroll taxes no matter what. Then when there was enough public pressure to not do so, they wanted to insert poison pills into the bill in order to defeat it or at least get some extra concessions they wanted. They weren’t pushing for oil drilling though, they want to build an oil pipeline through the largest underground fresh water aquifyer in the country. And they weren’t threatening to shut down the federal government if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised. They were just threatening to shut it down as part of budget negotiations. They were threatening to throw the country into default by not raising the debt ceiling. And they refused to do so unless they got cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

  24. @ Rob Sheffield

    It’s all his “supporters” who claim he’ll refuse to look electoral math and facts squarely on and grimly hang on to the detriment of his party !!!!
    ———————————
    We are convinced that Ed M would be the best person to have at the helm, were a Lab/Lib Coalition to be on the cards.

    Indeed, a leader who is seen as consensus building – rather than a charismatic, adversarial show-boater – would be exactly the partner I’d pick, were I a LibDem in search of a coalition that would be harmonious rather than the ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ version which they appear to be currently engaged in.

    It is because I have respect for your views, namely that the Tory/Dem Coalition may falter & the election may come before 2015 &/or may result in another coalition that I believe Ed M will not be forced to step aside & nor will he do so voluntarily. He is the best man for the job of working towards an understanding with the Dems.
    8-)

  25. Socal

    The “open primary” definitions I have seen say that in *semi opem* primary states voters may be required to register for that party.

    The most up to date list I have found though indicates that 13 states have fully open primaries (12 p and 1 fully open caucus).

    For example NH is only semi open whereas nearby VT is fully open and has a recent classic example of the very ‘raiding’ of one parties primary by voters from the other party to pick a weak candidate that I was alluding to: Fred Tuttle in a 1998 senate run- a Republican candidate effectively picked by non Republicans.

    Like I said: BONE headed !!!

  26. For what it’s worth, I think the lib dems will actually do better than everyone seems to expect in forthcoming local and national elections. Yes they will drop in numbers but the complete annihilation people keep predicting is nonsense. They will probably be back to 1992 levels of support in terms of popular vote but under the circumstances that wouldn’t actually be a disaster. They’ll survive and indeed may still end up holding the balance of power all over again

  27. @ Rob Sheffield

    Are you a Lib Dem? Why did I think you were a Labourite? Or an unaffiliated voter who floated between the Lib Dems and Labour?

    I get the impression that Orange Book Lib Dems are never going to ally with or join the Tories in an election. But if you’re a Lib Dem, you’d know far better than me.

  28. @ Rob Sheffield

    “The “open primary” definitions I have seen say that in *semi opem* primary states voters may be required to register for that party.

    The most up to date list I have found though indicates that 13 states have fully open primaries (12 p and 1 fully open caucus).

    For example NH is only semi open whereas nearby VT is fully open and has a recent classic example of the very ‘raiding’ of one parties primary by voters from the other party to pick a weak candidate that I was alluding to: Fred Tuttle in a 1998 senate run- a Republican candidate effectively picked by non Republicans.

    Like I said: BONE headed !!!”

    Let me explain a few critical differences here. An open primary occurs in a situation where you don’t have FPTP. What this means is that you have an open primary in the beginning where one can only win if they receive 50% of the vote plus 1. If no candidate is able to get that, then there’s a move to a runoff. But in that situation, you can wind up (and in fact, often do wind up) with two Democrats or two Republicans running against each other.

    A state cannot force a party to open up its candidate selection process to voters of another party. But if a party wants to open up its primary to voters from outside the party, it may do so. Apparently, there are a small handful that do. They can always change their rules if they want.

  29. Amber

    I think Labour won’t be in a position to be negotiating a government with EdM as leader: that’s my point. C&S/ orange-Tory pact/ early election OR coalition all the way to 2015: in each case IMO Labour under EdM does worse (for all the extensive reasons set out in detail in various posts).

    But these possible events are at least two years away, and we’ll have to agree to differ for now.

    Socal

    I’m not a member of the Lib Dems but I am someone who clearly knows more about English politics than you do…

    Like I said look up how they make policy; how they elect their leaders and what role their twice yearly conferences (and FPC) have in what Clegg can and cannot do- and the types of people who attend these conferences and who are members of the FPC.

    Ashley

    No empirical justification for that post at all !

  30. Socal

    Yep those open primary/ caucus elections in those 13 states are BONE headed.

  31. OldNat;

    To say the right school doesn’t matter outside England is wildly inaccurate. I’m fairly certain I’ve went through the Scottish education system more recently than you have and believe me where you went has a huge impact on where you can go from then on. It’s unfair, but it’s a reality.

    On the education system, a friend of mine who works with the SNP mentioned a policy that they’re introducing that has been kept under the radar so far; regional education restriction? I don’t know what it’s actually called, but in essence beginning with colleges, before moving on to Universities, your choices to where you can attend will be restricted to the closest to you in your designated region. So for example, a bright student from Dundee wouldn’t be able to attend Glasgow’s highly regarded English Literature course because Glasgow is outwith their region.

    Have you heard of this at all? I can understand with colleges, where the reputation of the college is not particularly important to the qualifications obtained, but for Universities, reputation is a huge aspect, and some degrees from better Universities are considered better. The policy would remove choice from our higher education system and restrict our brightest minds to sometimes mediocre courses and limited employability.

  32. @ Rob Sheffield

    There may be some open primaries that exist by default. Those are in states where there is no party registration for voters. The most prominent example I can think of is Virginia but these states are generally rare.

    In any case, Fred Tuttle is a name I haven’t heard in forever. I think the GOP was lucky to nominate a Senate candidate that year in Vermont. There may be a few savvy, highly political voters who cross over in these rare open primaries to vote for a candidate they think will lose. But that’s pretty rare and unlikely to effect the vote overall. Americans (I think most people around the globe) simply aren’t that political and Machiavellian. For many partisans, there’s also a pride issue as well (people who are staunch Republicans aren’t going to cross over into the Democratic Primary and people who are staunch Democrats aren’t going to cross over into the Republican Primary). And because of primaries, those few Machiavellian people can always reregister to vote anyway in a closed primary. So there isn’t much difference at all.

    Having a primary open to independent voters is something that many parties do for strategic purposes. They want to have independents vote in their primaries and get to know their candidates. The reasoning goes that it will make their candidates stronger in the general election because they will have already been focused on independent voters so they will be stronger on particular issues. Additionally, this allow candidates to gain name recognition so that when they become the nominee, they’re a more well-known quantity to the voters. So, it’s not particularly boneheaded.

  33. @ Rob Sheffield

    “I’m not a member of the Lib Dems but I am someone who clearly knows more about English politics than you do…”

    No need to get snippy!

  34. @ Rob Sheffield

    “I’m not a member of the Lib Dems but I am someone who clearly knows more about English politics than you do…”

    No need to get snippy with me!

  35. HOODED MAN.
    The Marxists could have quoted Nye: ‘Nothing is too good for the workers’- when de camping to France for the week of the MT state funeral.

    Lefties among the high bourgeoisie like Mr AW Benn could afford to say that the 1983 Manifesto was a triumph, as people of that class do not need a Labour Government.

    Our Boxing Day dinner was wonderful, with an old friend here, joining our four children, two of whom working: in London and in a catholic public school in God’s County- Lancashire.

    The consensus here is that 2015, and not before, will be the year for Labour’s next generation= Chuka and Rachel etc.

    As important as Labour politics is Sir Alex’s 70th Birthday tomorrow, when the Govan boy will probably be top of the League- again!

  36. @CHRISLANE1945

    I agree that Labour needs the next generation to break through before they can be a serious alternative Government in waiting. Too many of the current Shadow Cabinet have Blair/Brown baggage.

    I think Ed is doing what Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard did for the Tories – keeping the seat warm for a contender the Electorate find credible.

    There is no short cut to this, it is a process that must be gone through.

  37. Chris Lane,
    I think Man Uniteds approach of sticking with their manager even when tough occassionally is aposite and they are Reds too.

  38. Seriously,
    Catmanduff makes sense to me, my 87-92 point.
    I think my main disagreement with Rob is his belief that a different more charismatic leader (who s/he) would be enough to make a difference in 2015 (or earlier.
    Having seen Chuka and Rachael on TV (him more than her) they are both a long way from ready to make an impact; after 2020 perhaps.
    Don’t write off Yvette yet just because Ed Balls’ economic stance is not gaining any traction.
    FWIW, it is a shame that realpolitik will imo not allow a Scottish leader as Alexander and Murphy have impressed me most out of the current shadow cabinet.

  39. JIM JAM

    @” Alexander and Murphy have impressed me most out of the current shadow cabinet.”

    I have increasingly thought the same in respect of Alexander recently.

    Darling is another name which never gets mentioned -well not by reds anyway. Factionalism would break out immediately-probably the reason for AD opting out now.

  40. A very interesting perspective :-

    h ttp://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/ian-birrell-like-it-or-not-the-pm-has-never-been-stronger-he-should-exploit-it-6276137.html

    Whilst disagreeing with the conclusion -“provoke” a GE; I agree with his view of LDs within the Government :-

    “Since the referendum they have been a destructive presence, endlessly opposing ideas but rarely offering constructive alternatives. “Always negative, never putting forward anything positive,” as one key insider put it.

    The only coalition policy a Conservative administration would not have introduced has been the welcome raising of tax thresholds for low earners. The Liberal Democrats have blocked deregulation designed to spur economic growth, stymied decentralisation to increase public participation in politics and opposed vital public-service reform.

    Tory modernisation is jeopardised by their coalition colleagues constantly claiming to be saving the nation from the nasty party. Often, their charges are wrong, but the damage is done.”

    DC’s biggest challenge in 2012 is likely to be his Coalition partners-the Opposition within, rather than the official version.

  41. @ Colin

    Problem for the Tories is that they cannot afford to badly sour their relationship with the LD’s, just in case they need a further coalition following the next GE.

    Personally I don’t think the LD’s have had any influence on the governments policies. They claim that they have made sure LD policies have been introduced, but I think the Tories may have introduced many of them themselves, including the increase in the personal tax allowance.

    From 2012 onwards, I am not sure ANY party in government in the UK can really influence what happens. If the Euro fails and both US and China economies slow, we will be in for a number of years in recession. The ratings agencies may well downgrade the UK and we could be hit by higher interest rates. If this all happens, no party will be in a position to put forward any policies at the next GE, that anyone will have any faith in. Labour really need the world economy to come through this difficult time and for growth to return to normal levels, for them to have any chance at the next GE. The obvious reason for this, is that Labour always need to promise spending on investment, welfare programmes etc and if there is no money spare, they won’t be able to do that.

  42. @R HUCKLE
    It is not often I find myself agreeing with you, but I think your 11. 48 is very much spot on. The comment regarding Labour always having to promise the Earth, Moon and Stars, is very apposite. A small majority of people may believe it in good times, but the larger majority question this approach when they know we are struggling financially as at present

  43. R HUCKLE

    I agree about the global context of the economy & it’s overiding influence on events.

    But the government still has to get legislation through on Public Sector reform-the Universal Credit & NHS for example-and work through the new relationship with EZ.

    If NC persists in trying to placate his dismayed left wing, with ever more “anti-tory” rhetoric & divisive posturing within government, then DC will need to be more concerned about relationships with his own MP’s than those in the LD party.

    There must be a point for Con ministers & backbenchers, beyond which the public parading of the bleeding stumps of their political consciences & the constant sniping about “nasty tories” from VC, CH, TF et al moves from irritating to unacceptable.

    DC has worked hard at keeping the LDs on board-but there is a balance to be drawn.

  44. @Colin,

    I think we have to give the LDs some credit for not actually causing any trouble so far, even if they frequently talk about it. I think the rhetoric is necessary for them politically, and the Tories should bear that in mind when deciding to what extent they take offence at it.

    I haven’t seen any sign so far of the LDs reneging on the coalition agreement.

  45. @Neil A

    True, but you can go further than that. From your and Colin’s political perspective (not mine, obviously) you should also both give the LDs a great deal of credit for going along with right wing policies far BEYOND those set out in the letter of the coalition agreement, notwithstanding the odd whimper. e.g. Lansley’s changes to the NHS.

  46. @ Colin

    Darling is another name which never gets mentioned -well not by reds anyway.
    —————————–
    That’s down to Alastair, himself. He would be in the shadow cabinet, if he’d wanted to be.

    He’d have strolled to victory, had he stood for the Scottish leadership. He didn’t stand.

    So, we assume: Either he is having a nice long rest from politics before returning to the front benches or he is planning to retire from the House. We reds will talk about Alastair when there’s something to talk about.
    8-)

  47. A new betting market from Paddy Power: Will Brian Paddick (for the Lib Dems) get more or less than 10% in the London mayoral election? He couldn’t get even 10% in 2008 when the LDs were polling 20%-22% nationally with ICM, so the 8/11 on offer for under 10% looks good value IMO.

    That said, it’s also 5/2 on Ken Livingstone coming clean about fathering another love child. If a female commentator here were to think that this offered good value, it would beg a further question or two.

  48. Jim Jam et catmanjeff.

    I agree that Labour cant take short cuts, but Yvette would have a better chance of depriving the tories of being a majority government, so they would have to renew their ‘heavy petting’ (their words) with Lib Dems.

    As to SAF at manchester united. He lost his first GE narrowly in 1992, but has done well since then, including two european conference triumphs in 1999 and 2008.

  49. NEIL A

    I give them great credit for signing up , and giving unswerving support to the public finances policy.

    They provided the stability , & consistency in government to achieve the international credibility which has been vital to this programme.

    I don’t understand why “the rhetoric is necessary”.
    The Coalition Agreement sets out the areas of policy agreement , and the areas of ambiguity.

    An example of the latter is EU competencies ( page 19 / section 13) It is perfectly possible, therefore , for the LD s to argue a different case to Cons in instances such as that.

    But they can use the room anticipated by the Coalition Agreement without reference to nightmares, slavering, christmas card lists, evil, bastards ,etc etc.

    Conservative supporters like me walked away when the last word quoted above was being thrown at Conservatives by Conservatives.

    I don’t want to see it being used again in a Conservative Prime Minister’s administration-least of all from coalition “colleagues”.

    If this sort of rhetoric really is “necessary for them politically,” , then I think Cons have a very immature partner in government.

    I have loved sharing christmas with my younger grandchildren -but I wouldn’t want to have shared my working life with them.

  50. AMBER

    Thanks.

    If he is anything like the man I detect in his book-he has his mind on his croft & his boat now-and very sensible too imo.

    I don’t detect much reticence amongst reds on UKPR when mentioning all sorts of names for prospective promotion in the SC ranks. So I conclude that AD’s absence from such musings is because he is not thought worthy-at least amongst UKPR reds.

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