Last week Tony Blair suffered his first Commons defeat as Prime Minister over the provision in the Terrorism Bill to detain suspects for up to 90 days. How much damage has it done to Tony Blair? Is his authority irredeemably damaged, has he any chance of getting through his reforms of education and the health service? Time will tell.

What we do know is what the public think, thanks to an ICM poll in the Guardian over the weekend – the full tables, including the actual questions which were annoyingly absent from the Guardian’s report, are now online here.

Firstly the vote itself – should the government have attempted to forge a compromise to get a bill that allowed detention for more than 28 days? 28% of people told ICM that 28 days was a sufficent length of time anyway and 18% objected to even the 28 day figure. Amongst the remaining 49% of respondents who gave an opinion, a majority (29%) thought it would have been better for the government to come to a compromise with the opposition, while 20% thought the government was right to stick to their original preference for 90 days, despite the fact that it lead to defeat.

Asked if Blair’s authority had been damaged by the defeat 22% said it had been greatly damaged, while 41% said it had been somewhat damaged. Only 31% thought Blair had emerged unscathed. While the answers were predicatably partisan, even most Labour identifiers thought that Blair had been damaged.

Asked about the rest of Tony Blair’s programme, a majority (55%) of people thought that the Prime Minister would have to learn to compromise with his critics if he wanted to get the measures through, although Labour identifiers were more evenly split, with 51% saying he should compromise but 47% thinking he should stand his ground and re-assert his authority.

Finally ICM asked when Blair should stand down. 24% said now, but as usual with such questions this was disproportionately made up of Tory identifiers. In comparison 19% of people, including almost a third of people who identified with the Labour party, still wanted Tony Blair to go back on his previous announcement and stay on to secure a fourth term.


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