Looking back at 2011

In terms of polling 2011 has been almost static. In the last Parliament we were rather spoilt in terms of volatility, seeing the Conservatives move ahead after the election of David Cameron, then the Brown boost putting Labour briefly ahead until the election-that-never-was burst the bubble, then a second Labour recovery after the bank bailout. Even in 2010 there was significant movement as Lib Dem support fractured and support for the government’s cuts programme ebbed away. In contrast the story of 2011 has been one of stagnation.

graph

In terms of voting intention, in YouGov’s daily tracker Labour have maintained a steadyish five point lead throughout most of the year. There have been a few ups and downs, with the Labour lead temporarily widening to six, seven points or more in the Spring and after Hackgate in July, but most of the time voting intentions have rumbled onwards regardless of day-to-day politics.

The biggest exception was the impact of David Cameron’s veto at the European summit, which put the Conservatives briefly back ahead of Labour. As daily polling paused for Christmas the polls were still showing Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck – it remains to be seen whether this does have any lasting effect. The veto itself will, in all likelihood, fade from memory as things like the economy and public services resume their normal place at the top of the political agenda, but if the veto permanently impacts how people see David Cameron and his leadership there is a possibility of a longer term impact.

Economic optimism has remained resolutely dire throughout the entire year. Confidence in the government’s economic policy and support for the cuts rapidly fell in 2010, but since then have largely flatlined.

graph

The proportion of people thinking that the cuts are too deep or too fast has actually fallen slightly (“too deep” has gone from around 50% in February to around 42-43% now; “too fast” has gone from around 58% to around 48%), but the balance of opinion that the cuts are bad for the economy remains largely unchanged. More positively for the government people continue to think the cuts are necessary, and despite the passage of time there is little further change in the proportion of people who blame the Labour party for the cuts.

graph

Where there has been more movement this year is in perceptions of the leaders themselves. David Cameron’s ratings remain the most positive of the three main party leaders but have been on a downwards trend, interupted by peaks after the local elections and the European veto. The latter saw significant increases in the proportion of people who thought Cameron was a strong leader who is good in a crisis and sticks to what he believes in, but it remains to be seen if it endures.

graph

Ed Miliband’s figures have also been on a downwards trend, even while his party has been ahead in the polls. His decline was dramatically reversed by his response to Hackgate, but this faded away again leaving him languishing in the the minus thirties. Nick Clegg has the worst ratings of all, though they appear to have bottomed out after the defeat in the AV referendum. He suffered a sharp downturn after the European veto, but this was largely the result of Conservative supports, a minority of whom normally give Clegg good ratings, becoming far more negative about him.

Those are the figures, I’ll try to have a bit of broader rumination of the political situation at the end of 2011 over the next few days.


324 Responses to “Looking back at 2011”

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  1. @Joe james B – “provided there is a clear sense of direction
    about longer term building blocks for genuine economic recovery in this country….”

    I suspect this is going to become one of the governments problem areas. The central difficulty is that that they simply don’t have that sense of direction.

    The entire economic strategy is the misplaced optimism that by reducing government spending, private industry will fill the gaps. It will, but on a time scale of decades. A much more focused and interventionist growth strategy is needed, and even that would take time to have an impact.

    The government has already wasted it’s first two years in this regard, and time is running out for them to get things happening in time for a 2015 election. This isn’t like previous cyclical recessions, where things bounce back under their own steam. This is the 1930s, and only an intensive and carefully thought through economic strategy will bring growth back in the medium term. Cameron doesn’t have one, other than to keep digging a deeper hole.

  2. Smukesh and LeftyL

    Thanks for the elucidations. I still think Labour are doing well despite him and not because of him.

    No-one picked up on my earlier question about the magnitude of a potential ‘personality vote’ on a GE result, but I do wonder if we might get a 1992 scenario, when Labour are riding high as the election approaches until suddenly the electorate panics when they realise who might become Prime minister.

  3. PETE B
    The electorate may also wonder whether the man who employed Andy Coulson should have another 5 years at the top compared to a man with a clean sheet

  4. I think the tories problem is that they set expectations too high for 2015 at the beginning of the coalition regardless of whether they are taking the right action or not.

    Still they should feel fairly happy as long as they can keep roughly level with Labour (which they may well manage for the bulk of next year) but they don’t want to slip 4% behind again.

  5. ALEC

    @” a winning mantra with the ideas of responsible business and the squeezed middle.”

    I’m not convinced that the first of those two resonates significantly at present. Clearly it echoes the whole reaction against “the bankers”-but implementing Vickers should be a government play on that score. Other than that, I think business ethics are for the calmer less frenetic times when people have stopped worrying about paying the utility bills.

    Squeezed middle is much more relevant -but here too the government has a play in prospect-albeit by proxy.

    I have felt for a year now that what is hurting most is inflation. Of course ,if your job is at risk you worry about that. But most people are in work -in work with static or even declining earnings-and the rising cost of living.

    If BoE forecasts of a rapid fall off in inflation this year are correct, then the “squeeze” will be alleviated a little. Even if prices don’t go down, at least if they stop going up it will feel like progress.

    And if this in turn stops the decline in spend on consumer goods , it might just start to feed into economic growth.

    I don’t say these factors will be dramatic-but they do relate to “squeezed middle” -and they do look like good news-rather than more bad news.

  6. Pete B

    Fair points. I certainly wouldn’t claim that Miliband has made the electorate swoon.

    As for the 92 example, as the philosopher said, one never sets foot in the same river twice. Major in 92 had the distinct advantages of being not-Thatcher, new enough to be not-responsible-for-the-things-that-the-Tories-had-done-to-upset-folk-over-the-last-decade, and of having recently won a major foreign war with few casualties. Plus the LDs could still poll18%.

    Cameron will not have the first two and the last advantage in 15, and I’d hope that even the devoutest Tory wouldn’t hope for the third simply to get re-elected.

  7. Lefty
    “and I’d hope that even the devoutest Tory wouldn’t hope for the third simply to get re-elected.” (a decent war)

    I don’t know, how about stuffing the French? That would be very popular :-)

  8. SMUKESH

    @”he electorate may also wonder whether the man who employed Andy Coulson should have another 5 years at the top compared to a man with a clean sheet”

    Not entirely clean-wasn’t there a re-run BE caused by a chap in the Shadow Cabinet?

    More seriously I think Coulson is history now. A few uncomfortable headlines if they nail him for something-but he is gone now.

  9. Alec posts as a Green supporter
    (a party which doesn’t believe in growth)
    but advocates the disastrous policies of Ed Balls
    which almost bankrupted this country, and which this government is clearing up the mess from (although I’d like to see deeper cuts to give tax cuts).

    The private sector is the motor engine for economic growth – but it also requires other measures such as better education and technical skills, and there is a role for government spending on infrastructure, for example.

  10. @Leftylampton,

    A bit confused by your last post.

    Cameron isn’t Thatcher. He isn’t responsible for things the Tories have done to upset people over the past decade (on account of them not having been in power to upset anybody).

    There’s every chance that the LDs will be circa 18% in 2015.

    But yes, I hope there isn’t a war.

    Cameron also has the advantage of not seeing his entire economic strategy disintegrate in 48 hours, and of not being PM at the fag-end of nearly two decades of Tory rule.

  11. @Leftylampton Your graph is interesting but it is hard to tell how significant it is. Of course you expect some inverse correlation between VI for different parties. Is the Lib/Lab one more than the default? There’s undoubtedly a statistical test for this, but you could also try to plot the graph replacing Lab with Con and see how that correlation looks.

  12. “In my political lifetime there has [never] been… a government more skilful at disguising its nature.”

    Poly Toynbee argues that 2012 is when welfare/public spending cuts, Osborne’s “rebalancing of the ecomomy”, unenployment, squeezed living standards, rising crime, NHS tendering/waiting lists etc will become more apparent … Cameron’s “moderate manner” will be working overtime to maintain the benefit of the doubt many have been willing to extend during 2011.

  13. COLIN
    More seriously I think Coulson is history now
    I hope so for the Tories` sake…Cameron reminds me of Adam Gilchrist or Virender Sehwag,if you watch cricket…Yes it is attractive cricket but the opposition always have a chance

  14. Colin:
    “More seriously I think Coulson is history now. A few uncomfortable headlines if they nail him for something-but he is gone now.”

    Drip, drip, drip. Such is the way that political capital drains away, and Cameron had precious little in the first place.

    I hit “Submit” too early in my reply to Pete B above. I was going to suggest that 2015 may well be contest between similarly unattractive leaders. A bit like 74 and with a similarly knife-edge result. I see few bright sparks on either bench who could be game-changers (and as I’ve said before, I suspect the Electorate are rightly dismissive of game-changers anyway…)

    All in all, we’re back to good old-fashioned grown up politics. No more of the Colgate smile and the vacuous promises winning elections. No more of the memory for names in Leaders’ Debates putting 10 points on VI. Most of the Electorate know, in a Bragg-ist way, which side they are on. The centrist are irrelevant. The outcome in 15 will be down to circumstances, manouevring and the ability to project a philosophy that resonates.

    Bring it on.

  15. Those graphs don’t make comforting reading for Labour, especially the latter half. Miliband’s popularity has fallen down, Labour have not shifted the blame for cuts and economic troubles more generally and the opinion on the cuts is at best level.

    However, it is probable that further bad news is coming – recession part 2. This may help shift perceptions of blame. Then there’s the next round of cuts, and the fact the global conditions mean that there’s probably going to have to be more cuts than planned.

    So – there’s a glimmer of hope for Labour. It’s just that Cameron seems to be appealing somewhat more to the electorate, and that can to an extent cancel out the negatives.

    As for LD’s – the flatline says it all.

  16. SMUKESH

    @”Yes it is attractive cricket but the opposition always have a chance”

    How much of a chance though?-that depends on what sort of opposition -and what sort of skipper.

    Was just reading about Australia v India & came across this from the roar.com

    “This Australian team is neither in irreversible decline on the brink of total domination. It is a team with a mixture of potential, fading abilities, brilliance and mediocrity.”

    Ed Miliband =Ricky Ponting ?

  17. Hal.

    As requested.
    http://i42.tinypic.com/fux62w.png

    Of course, there is some correlation between Con & LD vote or VI, but it is much looser than the correlation between Lab & LD. So, for example, the Tories have polled above 40% a GE with an LD vote of 25%. But Labour have never polled above 35% with an LD vote above 20%.

  18. COLIN
    Ed Miliband =Ricky Ponting ?
    Who knows?He is the newcomer and essentially unknown quantity…But this might be be more fitting for Cameron in 2015 who would have been in the public eye for 10 years…After 10 years,questions are going to be asked `What exactly does the vote for Cameron mean?`Meanwhile steady Eddie has been plugging away day after day with clear messages…If people like his messages,they will vote for him in the absence of a positive message from the opposition

  19. Ed Miliband a newcomer? And there was me thinking he was a Cabinet minister in a Labour government that suffered the party’s worst ever General Election result….

  20. Colin
    Well if we’re doing cricket, how about Cameron = Ted Dexter and E Miliband = Kim Hughes?

  21. Neil A
    Surely you can`t think that he was responsible for the 2010 defeat…He is still newish as leader of the opposition and has the time to define his ideas more sharply

  22. @Smukesh,

    Well, I suppose the best that can be said is that despite being part of the government in one form or another throughout Labour’s rule, and spending three years in the cabinet, he made almost no impact at all and had zero name recognition.

    He is what the Americans would call a “Washington Insider”. He may well have new ideas, but if they’re any good people might wonder why he was hiding them under a bushel all those years.

  23. @leftylampton

    Tangential to your mention of 1974… I notice this was the only election Labour won with *only* the Mirror supporting them. Though the influence per se of newspapers is debatable, I think there is something in the fact that they still tend to set the daily agenda for the broadcast media.

    h
    ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablogs/2010/may/04/general-election-newspaper-support#zoomed-picture

  24. Neil A
    He`s obviously shaping his ideas for the current time,a time of crisis with an eye on the next election..These would have been an instant vote turn-off in the boom years…Just as Churchill was the man for the war,Atlee`s ideas were right for the post-war period…We`ll give him time,we don`t want his ideas to go the way of `the big society`,do we?

  25. “I think the Labour Party should pick a man from southern england, outside of London, with tory parents, who speaks and smiles well, who understands human nature desires capitalism with a human face, with equity, but with discipline too.”

    This kind of vapid analysis irritates me, because it treats the British public, particularly the middle class segment of it, who are the most educated and informed, as being completely shallow and intellectually and ethically bankrupt. I would have thought that the Blair years would have inoculated the public against putting to much trust in plausible looking but shallow politicians. Incidentally of the towns you mention, Basildon is a no hoper for Labour and Worcester and Chester are prime examples where Labour stands a good chance of winning on the back of Lib Dem defections.

  26. @Lefty Lampton

    ” I was going to suggest that 2015 may well be contest between similarly unattractive leaders. A bit like 74 and with a similarly knife-edge result. I see few bright sparks on either bench who could be game-changers (and as I’ve said before, I suspect the Electorate are rightly dismissive of game-changers anyway…)”

    This is my hunch too and while I take Rob S’s point that the least ugly always wins an ugly contest, I see the next election being rather more about policies and ideas as opposed to which leader has the more pleasing personality. It may well be that evidence of basic competence will be enough if a) your opponent has become discredited b) the electorate has become bored by the incumbent and c) your party’s policies appear more attuned to the political and economic zeitgeist. It also helps if you’re running against a failed administration and, on all of these counts, Miliband has at least a semblance of a chance of being lucky in 2015.

    It’s also worth noting that Cameron will have been around at the top of British politics for about 10 years by 2015 and we shouldn’t disregard the possibility that he may, by then, appear a little jaded and shop soiled. Of course, time may well be helpful to him and his stock slowly rises, but a politician’s shelf life is notoriously short and my sense is that Cameron will have to buck a well established trend if he is to be a wildly popular figure after 10 years of being Leader of the Opposition and PM. Ditto Mr Clegg, and Miliband might be able to play the changing of the guard, time for a change card so beloved of opposition politicians. This card was very helpful to Cameron in 2010 but one he can now no longer play.

    Never underestimate the power of being the “I’m not the other bounder” candidate in elections. Who’s going to be able to wear the “I’m Not David Cameron” rosette to the greatest political effect in May 2015, I wonder?

  27. ROB SHEFFIELD

    Yes I’d seen that HoC was finally getting round to thinking about the WLQ 12 years after devolution, and have appointed a commission which will report back in 15 months time.

    That they are somewhat dilatory in their approach has been noted.

  28. ANDY JS

    Many thanks for uploading the 2011 election coverage. I’ve watched part 1 and i remember it.

    What I’m looking forward to is seeing the bits I missed due to having taken the foolish decision to have a dram every time the SNP won a seat.

  29. Posting again after a very pleasant evening with our neighbours (LDs and former candidates/activists).

    While we didn’t mention anything as coarse as VI, the discussion was consensual about the Coalition.

    The LDs didn’t really have any choice other than to keep a Tory Government in office to ensure consistency of approach in dealing with the financial crisis.

    Confidence & Supply would have done that.

    Becoming trapped into supporting Tory policy on the minutiae of English governance was insane.

    I sat back and made no comment as they discussed Cameron and Clegg.

    Him “They both even look the same. Same class, same background, same persona”.

    Her – “No. Cameron looks more like a slug. Smooth and slimy.”

    If they are at all representative of opinion in SLD, then “there may be trouble ahead”. Of course, “while there is moonlight and love and romance” (although those commodities may be somewhat lacking in Scotland). the LDs “can face the music and dance”.

    (Damn! If I had Angela Rippon’s legs, i could have danced that for you! :-) )

  30. Andy JS,

    May I echo the words of Joe James B and Oldnat. I look forwards to watching the election again, even though it wasn’t terribly good for the tories. I suppose I just like seeing Labour lose seats, even to the SNP :)

    Your tremendous achievement in putting up all general elections in a long time has saved me from insanity on multiple occasions (some would say it drove me insane :) ). I have re-watched the 2010 Election coverage every six months since the election (i.e. three times) and will continue to do so. If I was the queen I would give you a knighthood for public services today, but unfortunately she doesn’t seem to watch watch election night programmes.

    You wouldn’t happen to have local elections for the past few years recorded somewhere, would you?

  31. @ Chris Lane

    “I think the Labour Party should pick a man from southern england, outside of London, with tory parents, who speaks and smiles well, who understands human nature desires capitalism with a human face, with equity, but with discipline too.”

    Well have you ever considered that perhaps Labour needs to appeal to those voters but doesn’t neccessarily need someone who hails from southern England in order to do it? Don’t you think that you can find a leader who knows how to speak the language of those voters? I say this because you have some young stars within your party who aren’t neccessarily southern English and you might be giving them a short shrift.

    I’m citing foreign examples here (again…and maybe North Americans are just different from the rest of the world) but it seems to me that sometimes you can win key areas electorally with a leader who doesn’t hail from that area and sometimes you can fail to take an area simply by choosing a leader from it.

    So, looking at Canada. The Liberals in the 1980’s picked John Turner, a westerner from Vancouver to leave them (they had no western seats after the 1980 election). The only western seat that the Liberals won in the 1984 landslide defeat was Turner’s own (Vancouver Quadra). In 1988, the Liberals improved little in the west despite having a western leader. However, it’s interesting to note that the Liberals got a new leader in Jean Chretien after that. Chretien was French Canadian, had a very strong French accent, and spoke English as a second language. Yet, in the next election, his party won nearly every single seat in Ontario, the English speaking province that traditionally was a bastion for the opposition Conservatives. And they repeated that performance in the next two elections that Chretien led them.

    In the U.S., the Republican presidential candidates who led their party to sweeping victories across the old confederacy were both Californians. The Democratic Presidential candidate who turned the once solidly Republican New England and Northeast to the Democrats was an Arkansas hillbilly. For another comparison, John Kerry lost North Carolina by 14% despite having a running mate who was from and had been elected in North Carolina. Obama, from Chicago with another northern running mate, won North Carolina (and will likely win it again next year).

    So anyway, I bring that up to suggest that the solution may be finding someone who can speak a language, not someone who’s neccesarily from that area.

  32. @ Andy JS

    Thank you for uploading it. I actually remember watching the coverage live earlier this year but I like that you have it up and running. I appreciate the 1992 and 1997 election uploads the most. They’re such monumental and historic elections. And getting to watch them actually allows someone years removed from those elections who did not understand them at the time to get a sense of what was going on.

  33. I’d go further and say that not only do our wonderful electorate not really care where a candidate is from, they often can’t really tell anyway.

    People assume Tory PMs much be from the Home Counties, yet Thatcher was from the Midlands and Major was from Brixton.

    I don’t think anyone had any idea that Howard was Welsh, never mind that he was from a poor, working class Jewish family in Wales.

    Once you’re the leader of the Tory party, you’re assumed to be a Toff. Of course, with Cameron the stereotype and reality have coalesced. But it doesn’t really matter because even if he’d been the son of a trawlerman from Fowey people would have seen him in more or less the same light.

  34. HANNAH.
    I woke up in these hours anxious about appraisal in school next week! A good lesson must have, in 50 minutes, ice breaker, small group activity, large group activity, iCT activity and ‘plenary’. In the old days we used to teach: DIDACHE means teaching, but didacttic teaching= sacking offence.

    Anyway,if as you say, Basildon is a no hoper for Labour, then Labour has no hope. My teaching career started there, when Moonman lost to the nice tory Mr Proctor.

    As to the need for a ‘middle class friendly’ leader, I am afraid that the sad truth is that england is a non-political land, that does not talk about ‘politics and religion’. Labour needs a leader that looks and sounds like middle england.

    The tories and their lib dem friends/allies have leaders that are middle england friendly.

    As to Ed Miliband, I agree with NEIL A that Ed is no newcomer.

    PETE B.
    Did Dexter win any Ashes series? More like Brearley I think for Cameron.

    LEFTY.
    1974- my first election as a voter. Heath would have had the largest party if he had not betrayed the Unionist 11, by insisting on things like universal suffrage in NI Elections, thus closing Stormont and setting up the Power sharing executive.

    All memories of 1981 coming back, through the Cabinet Papers. when I was an angry young teacher-man!
    Ed Miliband is not as good as Hughes, I think.

  35. @ Chris Lane

    “I will be at least 70 when Labour wins again, I sense.”

    Don’t despair like that. Negativity tends to breed negativity and in turn creates bad outcomes.

    @ Old Nat

    “In some places, certainly.”

    Globally, it’s been a wild year in politics. We saw total upheaval in both the Canadian and Scottish Parliamentary elections within a few days of each other. We’ve seen a number of longtime political figures in Europe get toppled. We’ve seen the democratic uprisings across the Middle East topple once seemingly invincible dictators and in other places lead to unthinkable reforms. The GOP Primary is not only the biggest s*it show I’ve ever seen but is probably one of the most unpredictable and wild races I’ve ever seen with poll numbers in dramatic shifts every week (if not every day).

    I guess in a world of chaos, it’s nice that the UK (as a whole) and the U.S. (as a whole) can be so serene and calm politically.

    Perhaps it’s due to modern technological advances but politics today is so unpredictable and wild. Things change in the blink of an eye. The unexpected now seems to happen regularly. Seems like we’re entering into a new era of sorts. The side of me that has anxiety hates it (I like predictability, routine, the expected) but the side of me that has ADHD loves it!

  36. @ Neil A

    “I’d go further and say that not only do our wonderful electorate not really care where a candidate is from, they often can’t really tell anyway.

    People assume Tory PMs much be from the Home Counties, yet Thatcher was from the Midlands and Major was from Brixton.

    I don’t think anyone had any idea that Howard was Welsh, never mind that he was from a poor, working class Jewish family in Wales.

    Once you’re the leader of the Tory party, you’re assumed to be a Toff. Of course, with Cameron the stereotype and reality have coalesced. But it doesn’t really matter because even if he’d been the son of a trawlerman from Fowey people would have seen him in more or less the same light.”

    Didn’t Roland once say that Cameron had some Jewish ancestry?

    Wasn’t Tony Blair from the Midlands too?

    I really liked David Davis btw (I watched him on this crazy show called “Question Time”….it was the only thing on in English in my Parisian hotel). He came from a housing project so definitely not a toff (a word that is not in use in our lexicon) though he seemed kinda embarassed by that fact.

    As for Cameron, he’s a fairly wealthy guy and so are many of his buddies in the Cabinet. However, I don’t think that should be held against them. As I once mentioned before, Nancy Pelosi’s networth is higher than anyone in your Cabinet (even after you factor in the exchange rates).

  37. SOCALLIBERAL.
    Thanks for the words of wisdom about NIL DESPERANDUM.

    Now that I have put my feelings up there, I can try to let them go!

    Especially, since in England, the sunrise is one minute earlier today than yesterday, and the Epiphany approaches!

    Same approach for school outcomes will help.

  38. Anthony,

    I enjoy your musings as usual. We’ll see what changes 2012 brings us.

    It’s been a long and wild year (I can’t believe it’s almost over actually) with a lot of ups and downs. One thing I’m definitely grateful for though is the donkey you gave me. I really enjoy it (and I hope it makes things slightly less confusing for non-regular bloggers here).

    But I want to thank you in general for making this such a welcoming and friendly place. I really enjoy it here and I find I learn a great deal and enjoy the many broader ideological debates. I just hope I don’t annoy the rest of you guys too much. ;)

  39. @ Chris Lane

    “Thanks for the words of wisdom about NIL DESPERANDUM.

    Now that I have put my feelings up there, I can try to let them go!

    Especially, since in England, the sunrise is one minute earlier today than yesterday, and the Epiphany approaches!

    Same approach for school outcomes will help.”

    Well it’s not like I’m a believer in the “Secret” or anything silly and ridiculous like that. But I don’t think negative thinking helps things or makes them better. I think it’s more of a defense mechanism.

    Like a couple months ago, I asked my dad how he felt on Election Night 72′. His answer was one that I found intriguing. He said he wasn’t upset but that he simply thought the voters were just ignorant would elect trash to office. To me, the answer reflected negativity that’s altogether counterproductive (it doesn’t focus on how to win over voters but instead is this sort of self-serving negativity….the voters are stupid, therefore they’ll always vote for a bad guy).

  40. Well if a week is a long time in politics a year can certainly see a turn around. I t is no surpirse that the upward signs for Cameron followed the EU actions, and no doubt there will be ups and downs. Clegg appears to be nosediving, and Miliband does better when is more passionate and less jokey. Garry K did an interesting analysis on Think Left (Cusum) and identified reasons in particular parties’ fortunes. I have no idea how he did it!
    For 2012 I think we will see a rise in protests, as we face further cuts and reponses to NHs “reforms”. As we go mid term by the end of next year we should expect to see Labour ‘s fortunes grow… i would hope, anyway.

    @CROSSBATTI
    I concur with Crossbatt11 that Cameron’s recent popularity will subside as the electorate tire from him, though not sure who will emerge as a passionate leader. Where are the women? perhaps the electorate would respond positively to a woman. as a fellow Villa fan I was disppointed with the Stoke result and very anxious as to how we will fare against “The Other Blues” .
    Happy New Year everyone!

  41. Allright, I might as well make a prediction and do it before New Year’s Eve starts.

    Next year’s U.S. Presidential Election won’t be a close election. You hear people who want to sound like experts and geniuses talk about how close the election will be and how it will “all come down to a couple of states.” I will tell you that IMHO this analysis is a bunch of nonsense.

    Presidential re-elections that feature an elected incumbent are almost never close (it’s only happenned 4 times). Voters either tend to vote for an incumbent even if that incumbent seems mediocre or lacking or troubled. This is why Presidents tend to win reelection and this is why reelection victories are usually bigger than the initial victory. That is unless, the President really pisses off the voters. If that happens, the voters will throw him out of office in a hurry. But it’s never close.

    So as the New Year approaches, I won’t make any predictions as to which way it will turn out (I’m not even making predictions on the Iowa Caucuses) but I will predict that whoever wins next November will not do so by a close margin. (We’ll see if I’m proved right).

    Anyway, I want to wish my all my best to all of you guys in the New Year. I hope the next year treats you that much better than this one did.

  42. Lab supporters lead by Polly Toynbee in todays Guardian htttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/30/cameron-brutal-cuts-bleed?INTCMP=SRCH

    are under an illusion if they think that all they have to do is stick to their current tactics and the public will come round to their way of thinking in 2012.

    2012 will be decided by our reactions to the crisis in Eurozone.

    Scenario 1. They keep kicking the can down the road and somehow the structure remains intact for another year.

    This will result in much lower growth throughout the Eurozone. Yes it will mean lower growth, possibly recession here, but it will be no where near as bad as over the Channel so the Government will be able to claim success for its policies.

    Scenario 2. Orderly default of some countries.

    This was well as causing the above will mean considerable renegotiation of the EU and its treaties. This provides the Tories with the exuse they need to repatriate powers, which is part of the Coalition agreement. It leaves Lab in no mans land and LD’s in their version of hell.

    Scenario 3. Disorderly breakup.

    World economy goes into recession. Results impossible to predict but one thing is for sure the two Ed’s won’t be able to blame the resulting chaos on the cuts. It provides Cameron with the type of crisis at which he seems to do well.

    Looking good for Dave. The lucky man.

  43. Good Morning and Happy Birthday to Sir Alex Ferguson, born on 31 December 1941 in Glasgow.

    He was sacked by St Mirren as he had no managerial ability or potential. From there he went to Aberdeen, won the Title, broke the ‘Old Firm’ monopoly and from there he went to Old Trafford in November 1986, winning his first General Election, title in 1993.

    NEIL A and SOCAL LIBERAL.
    I think Howard was well known to be a Jew- hence Labour’s disgraceful cartoon attacking him. I thought he Dad was a pharmacist. Howard junior went to Llanelli Grammar school, and then to Cambridge, meeting Ken Clarke etc. (His wife super model).

    Thatcher was well known for being from Grantham, she made much of her ‘above the shop’ origins, and she did know what ‘ordinary’ non-unionised people felt which I think that Ed cant.

    I believe that Labour particularly always needs someone who can stand outside the heartland.

  44. @chrislane1945

    I believe that Labour particularly always needs someone who can stand outside the heartland.

    I was always hopeful that Alan Johnson might stand for the Labour Leadership.

    He came from humble beginnings, and came across like a normal person. I know he quit the SC role over his difficulty with the brief, but that shows a good aspect of leadership – know your limits, and if you don’t know it get someone who does to help you. The leaders of big companies are often not experts per se, they know how build a team around them.

    Sadly, all parties are too full of white people (mainly men) from well-to-do backgrounds, and educated privately. They will never understand in their guts what it feels to be born to lesser circumstances and struggle and fight.

  45. “I think the Labour Party should pick a man from southern england, outside of London, with tory parents, who speaks and smiles well, who understands human nature desires capitalism with a human face, with equity, but with discipline too.”

    Chris this is either a joke or decidedly odd. Your beloved election winning machine Tone (from Wiki):

    Blair has one elder brother, Sir William Blair, a High Court judge, and a younger sister, Sarah. Blair spent the first 19 months of his life at the family home in Paisley Terrace in the Willowbrae area of Edinburgh. During this period, his father worked as a junior tax inspector whilst also studying for a law degree from the University of Edinburgh.[9] In the 1950s, his family spent three and a half years in Adelaide, Australia, where his father was a lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide.[14] The Blairs lived close to the university, in the suburb of Dulwich. The family returned to the UK in the late 1950s, living for a time with Hazel Blair’s stepfather, William McClay, and her mother at their home in Stepps, near Glasgow. He spent the remainder of his childhood in Durham, England, where his father lectured at Durham University.

    Doesn’t sound like your ideal southerner at all.

  46. ChrisLane1945

    We mustn’t turn this into a football blog, I know, but I have a rather amusing memory of Fergie’s early days at the Glazer franchise (TM Man Utd). He was in his third season at Old Trafford and, like most of his benighted predecessors, had won precisely nothing, despite the enormous financial advantages that came with the job. The fans were turning, as is their wont, and he brought his decidedly ordinary United side to Villa Park for a Boxing Day fixture in 1989. A David Platt inspired Villa thumped them 3-0 and I remember a “Fergie Must Go” banner being unfurled amongst the United fans shortly after Villa’s third goal. What price that banner now after all the subsequent trophy filled years and how different football might have been had the old Govan curmudgeon got the sack all those years ago?

    As for your political observations, my only advice would be that repetition doesn’t lend credence and, if I was you, I’d change tune a little on the Heath “heroism”, Blair infallibility, Miliband uselessness, Labour’s “had it” line. We get the message!

    Happy New Year though.

  47. Andy thank you for adding the 2011 election night to youtube.

    I have now watched them up to part 18, do you have any further parts to add?

    Also will you be adding the stv election night coverage? It was by far the best coverage on the night.

  48. @ChrisLane1945

    Apologies, I’ve just realised that there are in fact two seats in Basildon, one of which ( http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/basildonandbillericay/ ) Labour didn’t win even in the 1997 landslide. The other one (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/southbasildonandeastthurrock/ ), you’re correct, is winnable for Labour, but only with Conservative transfers.

    @Neil A

    Ed Miliband was responsible for writing Labour’s last manifesto, which I found reasonably impressive (and I imagine I’m one of very few people to have actually read it, at least in part). He was also praised for his role at the Copenhagen Climate Summit:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/23/copenhagen-summit-accord-silver-lining
    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2009/12/lynas-climate-change-china

  49. SOCAL

    @”As for Cameron, he’s a fairly wealthy guy and so are many of his buddies in the Cabinet. However, I don’t think that should be held against them. As I once mentioned before, Nancy Pelosi’s networth is higher than anyone in your Cabinet (even after you factor in the exchange rates).”

    That’s one of the differences between your country & ours.

    In this country the lefties do “hold it against them”-because it offends against the ideal of “equality” .

    That’s why, in your country, the accumulation of family wealth seems to be a desirable thing ; and your economy has greater dynamism.

    ……mind you-having just read Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short”, that dynamism can produce very ugly activities indeed -as the TARP Programme, and the global Banking crisis of 2007/8 demonstrated.

  50. Time for some humble pie.

    Having myself earlier fallen into the trap of taking the Guardian’s reporting of the recent Policy Exchange pamphlet as an attack on Miliband at face value, it turns out that it is nothing of the kind. It argues constructively from a recognisably social democratic stance which most on the left should be comfortable with. Here’s a further link to an article by John Clare which puts the pamphlet into proper context, and also a link to the pamphlet itself:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/12/30/an-attack-on-the-left-no-the-labour-right-is-offering-concessions/

    http://www.policy-network.net/publications_detail.aspx?ID=4113

    The moral – never again take at face value any reporting of developments on the left by the Guardian’s political/editorial team. They have an agenda of their own and are prepared to distort any story to view it through that prism.

    John Clare sums his article up:
    “It would be a disaster if the Left were to accept the Guardian’s caricaturing of this short pamphlet as a right-wing attack on Ed, and to reject it. I read it as a significant concession by the Right of the Party towards the Left, and – personally, for what it is worth – I would be quite happy to take its proposals as a basis for further discussion.”

    Sunny Hundal, who I linked to earlier, has changed his mind, tweeting
    “Have to admit I also made the mistake of reading Guardian report on that pamphlet and taking it at face value”

    And other comments in response include:
    “The idea that it’s some sort of Blairite plot doesn’t stand up 30 seconds of attention to the publication.

    “I’m glad someone wrote this, when I read the article for myself I couldn’t believe how out of line the Guardians coverage was with its content.”

    “Great article, the Guardian’s reporting of the pamphlet was absolutely atrocious.”

    Sorry to quote at such length from another site, but given that the Guardian’s misreporting of this as an attack on Miliband was picked up in the broadcast media and seems to have influenced the content of much of this and the previous thread, it seems worth putting the record straight.

    And (with a nod to the Comments Policy) bear all this in mind when you have to next rely on the Guardian editorial team’s reporting of an ICM poll in the absence of any other source.

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