New party leaders normally enjoy a honeymoon in the polls. It’s noticeable for leaders taking over in opposition, on the relatively rare occassion that the party leadership changes hands in government the honeymoon is often remarkable. In the last fifty years there have been three previous occasions when the premiership changed hands between-elections:

  • Wilson-Callaghan, 1976. When Harold Wilson announced his resignation in the middle of March the polls were showing a Conservative lead of between two and five points. The polls immediately following Wilson’s resignation and during Callaghan’s first month in office showed Labour leads of between one and seven points, before returning to a steady Tory lead in May.
  • Thatcher-Major, 1990. Margaret Thatcher was famously removed by the Tory party in November 1990. In the month before the leadership election Labour had an average poll lead of thirteen points. In the month immediately following her resignation and replacement by John Major the Conservatives had an average lead of five points, peaking at 11 points. Over the next few months the polls settled down to an average Tory lead of four points or so.
  • Blair-Brown, 2007. The Blair-Brown handover was a more drawn out affair: Blair announced his resignation at the start of May 2007, when the Conservatives had a poll lead of around six points, and actually handed over to Gordon Brown at the end of June. Through July and August Brown enjoyed an average Labour lead of around five points, peaking in double-digit leads during the Labour conference at the end of September… and their rapid collapse afterwards. The Conservatives were ahead again by October, and remained so for the rest of the Parliament.

Every mid-term change of Prime Minister has been accompanied by a significant boost in polling figures – in the three historical cases, they’ve gone from trailing the opposition to a clear polling lead. The boosts have tended to be comparatively short though – Callaghan and Major only enjoyed a month or so before settling down into a new equilibrium, Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods. There’s no clear pattern as to where the polls settle after the honeymoon: I suppose it depends very much on the leader. Once the honeymoons had passed the change in leader didn’t make that much difference in 1976 and 2007 (in both cases Labour’s position absolutely tanked a few months down the line… but for different reasons), in 1990 though there was a long lasting improvement in Tory support.

So to the current polling position. Today’s ICM poll has topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 13(-1) (tabs are here). It follows on from an ICM poll last week showing the Conservatives ten points ahead, a YouGov poll giving the Conservtives an eleven point lead and an Opinium poll giving them a more modest six point lead. All four polls had Labour around or just below 30% and the Conservatives nearer 40%, UKIP down a little from the levels of support they’d been showing before the referendum.

Viewed together it certainly looks like the sort of boost a new Prime Minister normally receives, which is a good reason not to read too much into it. New Prime Ministers receive good poll ratings because they haven’t had to annoy too many people yet – the public can project their hopes onto them and convince themselves they really will be different, really will deliver this, that or the other. Before long, however, the shine will come off and they’ll have to start making compromises and disappointing people. This is one good reason for Theresa May not to plan for an early election (and the mistake Gordon Brown made in not shutting down such considerations) – the current polls look wonderful for her, but on past timescales they won’t necessarily be so rosy in a couple of months time. It’s also a crumb of comfort for Labour… though quite a small crumb.

UPDATE: YouGov have fresh voting intention figures that also show a strong lead for the Conservatives, albeit, not quite as big as ICM’s. Their topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here


846 Responses to “Leadership honeymoons and ICMs latest poll”

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  1. CMJ

    “However, as turkeys don’t normally vote for Christmas, a party of Government who does rather well out of it not likely to change anything.”

    Exactly. The Tories are the only party that can be confident of simultaneously governing England (and the rest of the UK on appropriate issues) simultaneously, since England delivers the vast majority of their MPs.

    As some ELab MPs have suggested, however, Lab could refocus on England, and push the need for that country to have power over their own affairs via it’s own Parliament. On that basis, a rainbow alliance with MPs from the other 3 nations might be possible to put through constitutional reform.

    Celebrating both “Englishness” and “UKness” might be a route forward. I think it’s unlikely that they are capable of thinking outside their cardboard box, but the alternative is living in it. :-)

  2. @Colin

    “The referendum illuminates the long-term rowing divergence between the politics of social justice and those of identity and belonging – and the need for much broader geographical and cross-class reach of those pursuing progressive coalitions. There will be no successful defence of liberal ‘open society’ values without engaging a much broader coalition than is achieved by the polarising frame of ‘open versus closed’, which pits the confident, liberal minority against the nativist, left behind minority – but also leaves most of the public unpersuaded by either camp.
    A more successful strategy will require liberals to engage with both the gains and the pressures of ‘open’; to be able to respond constructively to legitimate concerns about the impacts of immigration on public services, jobs and culture; and to engage with the values and interests of blue-collar and non-graduate audiences. If we are to secure majority consent for the values of an open and fair society, we need to do so together and ensure that it works fairly for everyone.”

    Very difficult to disagree with any of that, really.

  3. RAF @Colin

    “The referendum illuminates the long-term [g]rowing divergence between the politics of social justice and those of identity and belonging”

    Yet the two parts of the UK that, arguably, have politics that are dominated by “identity and belonging” voted strongly to remain in the EU, so it’s quite easy to disagree with that – unless the discussion is limited to particular geographic areas.

  4. I like Colin’s point about appealing beyond your own tribe. This actually means adopting policies in which you do not in fact believe.

    A good example would be Blair/Brown’s commitment to the fiscal policies of Ken Clarke in order to attain power in 1997. They didn’t like those parameters, but they felt they had to subscribe to them in order to win.

    As it happens, in my view, it all went swimmingly whilst they stuck to KC’s policies.

  5. @ Colin

    This is a very good summary.

    It works most of the times as well. And this is one of the reason why the UK (seeing OldNat’s comment – England) is a pleasant place to live in.

    The trouble is at times when crucial (bread really) questions emerge – for a large number of people.

  6. The further delay with Hinkley Point reminded me of this:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/engineering/structural/10-construction-projects.htm

    And HS2…

  7. Laszlo

    “It works most of the times as well. And this is one of the reason why the UK (seeing OldNat’s comment – England) is a pleasant place to live in.”

    Now you have confused me!

    Are you suggesting that England (all of it) is a pleasant place to live in because of “the long-term [g]rowing divergence between the politics of social justice and those of identity and belonging”?

  8. Valerie (part 1)

    You are confusing the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ of the 2015 election. If Milliband had been more positive towards the SNP then Labour in Scotland would have won more votes and, quite probably, more seats. It was the ‘I don’t give a monkeys what Scotland thinks’ approach which did the damage (IMO).

    Valerie (part 2)

    Actually, the SNP and Labour have very similar objectives, at least in terms of social policy. (again, IMO)

  9. @Valerie,

    The lady in question was pretty well-trained, in fairness, and the comment wasn’t made in a harsh way. It was just that her first reaction to a pre-teen getting drawn into a very s3xualised world was to challenge the behavior rather than let it pass without comment and inadvertently give a sort of “oh that’s OK then” sort of message.

    The point being that social workers aren’t just there to observe and report on the lives of the children they work with, but to try and bring about changes.

    But in general I agree that social work is a much more sophisticated business than the public assume. Done well, there is no other profession where one person can achieve as much good in one career.

    But the training and expertise, on their own, are virtually worthless. They are what gives you the tools. The trick is to be the sort of person that a reluctant, challenging and dysfunctional family will allow themselves to be worked on with those tools.

    Plus, of course, in this modern de-skilled world we live in, it’s generally not the social workers doing the “social work”. It’s social work assistants, family support workers and students. Much as it’s not nurses who care for patients, but health care assistants, it’s not teachers who educate children but teaching assistants and it’s not police officers who patrol neighbourhoods but PCSOs.

  10. The “progressive alliance” idea occurs every now and then. I doubt that the parties required can form an alliance when the Labour can’t even stay together by itself. However, if they can, electoral reform will be the glue. Getting UKIP on board would be possible under those terms, but there’s no way that alliance could occur.

    But I don’t think it’s possible anyway. For a start, how many – and which – seats would be given to the Greens to have a free run at? It would need to enough to reflect Green polling of at least 4%, so 26 seats under the current electoral divisions. But how many would be winnable?

    Secondly, who would form the government if they won and on what other policies? The mistake regularly made by those who consider themselves progressive is to assume that it is self evident to most voters that “progressive” policies would be preferable to Conservative ones and therefore there’s no need to win people over unless they are already broadly in agreement.

  11. @OLDNAT

    This is wildly off topic but, nevertheless, might be of interest to you and others who were talking earlier about Hinkley Point .

    It is the report by the Holyrood Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee: “Plugged-in, Switched-on, Charged-up: Ensuring Scotland’s Energy Security”

    I watched some of the evidence as it was being given and it was fascinating to hear the different opinions from different people with different expertise. The written evidence from Sir Donald Miller (former Chairman of Scottish Power) and Colin Gibson was scathing about UK energy policy, Hinkley Point and transmission charging.

    http://www.parliament.scot/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Reports/EETS042015R08Rev2.pdf

  12. Sam

    Thanks for that link.

    I’ve started reading the report, and it looks interesting – but it’ll take me some time to bring myself up to a level of understanding that makes me feel competent to have views!

    On a side issue, I’m usually impressed by MSPs and MPs in committee examining issues sensibly. It compares very favourably with how they posture in the Chamber! :-)

  13. Before anything else, I think commenters should pay their respect to the International Lipstick Day, celebrated everywhere in the retail sector today.

  14. @ OldNat

    I suppose what I wanted to say that many aspects of the great post-war great compromise is still operation, and parties in power still make sure that something is given to the populous, and that they would get a little bit more every year, not proportionally, but relatively to the previous year. As long as it is maintained, the populous will obediently vote, and it doesn’t really matter whom they vote for because one is a dog, the the other one is a canine domesticus. If it is too strong, one is a cat and the other one is a feline domesticus.

    This actually makes England is a pleasant place to live – everything goes ok, apart from some minor problem.

    Now, it was upset a little bit by a woman called Thatcher, but then the established order was carried on. oK, it meant wasting the oil revenue, and destroying the NHS, subsidising owners for the onerous task of firing people, but it returned to normality.

    The unhappy incidence of the the Great Recession caused a little bit of a problem, but the elite thinks we are over that, so we can carry on. However, a lot of people don’t.

    I have been saying for some time that people are very angry. It may come out in the shameless behaviour in voting in the referendum, in supporting a useless beardy, or really obnoxious behaviours encouraged by the prime minister to attack non-English people on the street.

    So, I suppose, the question is: are there resources for maintaining the elements of the great compromise?

    And I wanted to take out Scotland because of the reason I have tried to argue for a number of times.

  15. Alec – “Quite interested in the talk of a ‘progressive alliance’ from some within Labour. I am open to be persuaded, but I rather think it’s a bit of nonsense. ”

    Of course it’s a bit of nonsense.

    If the Corbynite part of Labour cannot work with the soft-left part of Lab, let alone the Blairite part of Lab, how on earth will they handle a coalition with orange-booker LibDems and lefty Greens at the same time?

    Lab is struggling so much with it’s internal coalition that it hasn’t even got a full shadow cabinet and hence is not a govt in waiting.

    In a population as big as ours, coalitions are inevitable. The question is whether to form a coalition before the election in a big tent party, and offer your compromise manifesto to the voters to pore over. Or form the coalition after the general election, in which case the compromise manifesto is decided behind closed doors by the party leaders and the result might be something no-one voted for at all. eg the Coalition govt produced the FTPA which wasn’t in either manifesto but was the result of horse-trading.

    From a voter point of view, the existing system is best – you have two massive big tents, they thrash out their compromises before the election, and you then get to chose between two compromises and see the winning compromise enacted in govt.

    The horse trading behind closed doors thing reduces voter input and gives more power to the negotiators after the election.

  16. Valerie

    Whats being suggested is a multi party pre election alliance with an agreed basic platform. That platform will have electoral reform as its centre piece.

    Blairism is never coming back, the left of the labour party are never again going to give their money, time, energy and enthusiasm for a project which lets them down. If it is true that Labour can’t win from the left then a progressive alliance is the only solution. A PR system will allow the left to see exactly how much support it has in the country and translate that vote into policies proportionate to its vote. The same would apply to the libdems, the greens and authoritarian right wing labour.

    The idea that everyone on the left are going to unite under the progress banner and win a majority under FPTP is laughable. the libdems are passionate about civil liberties and they want a distinct voice on that issue. The greens, well the name says it all and again the need and want their own distinct voice. The SNP obviously have scotland as their special concern, although a UK govt should rule in the interests of all parts of the country, its clear that neither tory or labour govts have done that or the SNP wouldnt have large levels of support it has. The left have been burned badly by the progress faction, i don’t really have to say more.

    I don’t know what the relative strengths of these groupings, FPTP makes it impossible to gauge, but the progress group tells us its the most important because it can deliver the key swing voters in marginal seats and everyone else has to fall in line. Their whole attitude has been that differing interest groups are either threats to be eliminated (SNP, militant, libdems) or constituencies to be bought off( greens and minorities) rather that allies to engage with. The progress group wants to lead this side of politics, they feel they have the right because the left can’t win without them. But they are at best 20% of the vote without the rest of us, they are probably not even the biggest group on the left side of politics.

  17. @CR

    “Whats being suggested is a multi party pre election alliance with an agreed basic platform.”

    What, like the Labour Party isn’t, right now?

  18. re coalitions – As more than one person has pointed out, the two main parties have been losing support for quite some time. They are themselves informal and often fractious coalitions and it has already been thought advisable to have a formal coalition with other parties in order to form a stable government. Personally I would have thought that a coalition might be necessary to form an effective opposition as well but there seems to be a fat chance of that at the moment,

    Waking last night at a moment when Hilary Clinton was in the middle of her acceptance speech I was impressed by the way she seemed to be trying to forge a coalition and the things around which she wanted people to coalesce: Investment, a positive approach to immigration (that made a nice change!), a recognition of the difficulties of people in areas left behind and a commitment to do something about them (not quite clear how admittedly), a commitment to health care, climate change and a green economy, something on gun laws, and obviously a hostility to Trump. Interestingly she explicitly spoke of working with Bernie sanders on certain issues but also of her need to engage with the uncommitted voters on the centre ground. Perhaps that was just what I heard but with the necessary changes made I would have thought there was quite a lot there around which a UK left might coalesce,

  19. Momentum vs Progress

    Chapter 28
    Title:- “The same as all the other Chapters”

  20. Robin

    Thats the point, Labour hasn’t been an alliance in a long time

  21. @Laszlo

    “Now, it was upset a little bit by a woman called Thatcher, but then the established order was carried on. oK, it meant wasting the oil revenue, and destroying the NHS, subsidising owners for the onerous task of firing people, but it returned to normality.”

    There are different opinions about the effect of Thatcherism and the legacy she left, as I am sure you know. Did it return to normality? And what was that?

    “For others, she was Britain’s saviour, embarking on radical free market reforms to liberate and revitalise its stuttering, bloated and underperforming economy.”

    http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2013/04/18/the-thatcher-legacy.aspx

    “The aggressive promotion of free-market policies under Thatcher was accompanied by the growing influence of business interests; a commitment to reduce the size of the welfare state; acceptance of widespread, unequally distributed unemployment; and implementation of a range of authoritarian social policies. All of
    this suggests Thatcherism contributed to ensuring Britain became a less healthy and more unequal place than it might otherwise have been. Thatcher’s neoliberal project was subsequently strengthened and more firmly embedded by her successors
    in Conservative (Major) and Labor (Blair and Brown) governments. Its legacy is especially visible in the policies currently being pursued by the post- 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat United Kingdom coalition government (26).”

    http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~alexss/thatcherism.pdf

  22. This might sound a bit sycophantic, but can I just take a moment to thank and congratulate Cambridgerachel. I think you’re a real boon to this community. We’ve got all sorts here, including a lot of posters on the left of politics in one form or another, but it’s great to have someone who can represent a sort of “new mainstream” Momentum viewpoint with such nuance and lack of rigid thinking. It adds to making this a place for sensible conversations, which is great when there are always so many people who pull the threads in other directions.

  23. @CR

    I think you’ll find that it has, just you haven’t felt the alliance included you. Corbyn has now moved the umbrella, and a much larger number of people feel excluded. Including major sections of the electorate.

    That policy under Blair was much too far to the right, you’ll get no argument from me. I felt that mid-term Miliband (before he got cautious as the election approached, which was really the problem) had the umbrella in a place where everyone could feel included. That means *everyone* accepting that they can’t get everything that they want, but they have a reasonable expectation of getting some of it.

    The problem now is that Corbyn doesn’t seem remotely interested in the give and take that is necessary to build any form of coalition, whether inside or outside the party. I can’t see any prospect at all of a rainbow coalition.

  24. @ Sam

    It is not the place, but yet it – it is the context. So I try to be as theoretical as it is possible (and thanks for the links, especially for the Liverpool one, as I didin’t know it. LJMU had one about then years ago, it was very good, but caught np attention.).

    The economic model of the post-war period was struggling from the second half of the 1960s – it was partially institutional, partly the reorganisation of the international economy. The existing measures failed miserably in the 1970s (incomes policy as it didn’t account of the relative international competitiveness of the British economy). Eventually it hit home and Thatcher was elected.

    In the first couple of years she actually fused the existing model (huge increase in public sector pay) and monetarism. It failed. She then changed the economic policy to a kind of supply side economics (it wasn’t, but it leads too far) in which disproportionally favoured the owners (of factories and of homes), but she made it sure that other layers of the society got something too. All these had to be financed without tax increases.

    The solution was using the oil revenue to finance current revenue for permanent changes in taxation. It was not enough, so a large proportion of the NI contributions were also reallocated to tax cuts and subsidising lay offs I selected industries. This then meant cuts in the health service. The reduction of beds in the NHS was something like 40%. In the health service the beds dictate the spending on human resources …

    So enormous resources were used for a particular economic development. I’m not writing an alternative history, but probably a different course would have been available.

    So the foundations of the Thacher era remained: buying the support of a sizeable population (with genuine benefits) while disproportionately supporting a particular social layer.

    From the early 2000s it was possible only through indebtedness (Labour doesn’t have an excuse here – the private debt was just a choice instead of public one). Then the 2007-08 recession put the end to all these.

    What we are seeing is the social, economic and social psychological responses – yes 8 years later.

    I really think it is a new world.

  25. The first paragraph should read:
    It is not the place, but yet it – it is the context. So I try to be as theoretical as it is possible (and thanks for the links, especially for the Liverpool one, as I didn’t know it. LJMU had one about ten years ago, it was very good, but caught no attention.).

  26. I would like to extend a warm welcome to CambridgeRachel too. She has added a lot to these pages, with a fresh perspective on many issues.

  27. I don’t know whether to be concerned more about Laszlo wanting “to take Scotland out” or Cambridge Rachel suggesting that the SNP is “a threat to be eliminated”.

    And these comments are from people I like!

    “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
    I think I’ll go eat worms!
    Big fat juicy ones,
    Eensie weensy squeensy ones …..”

    :-)

  28. @ Old Nat

    If you re-read her comment, I think you’ll find that it is Progress whom Rachel refers to as wanting to eliminate the SNP.

  29. Kitsune

    Yep. I’d reply more fully, but my hands are full of worms. :-)

  30. @ Old Nat

    Ah, so you were “doing it deliberately“, then? I have a fridge magnet with that on it.

  31. @Robin

    “The problem now is that Corbyn doesn’t seem remotely interested in the give and take that is necessary to build any form of coalition, whether inside or outside the party. I can’t see any prospect at all of a rainbow coalition.”

    I think he does understand that. But for obvious reasons he feels very insecure within a PLP that has hitherto done nothing to accept his legitimacy. Labour needs to be more welcoming to and understanding of Corbyn. That in turn will allow him to have the confidence to reach out without needing to watch his back. In a sense that is what is encouraging about Owen Smith’s campaign. It has legitimised most of Corbyn’s policies as mainstream Labour policies, not merely restricted to Corbyn’s acolytes but shared broadly among the soft left. This presents an opportunity for Corbyn to build a greater base within the PLP and the confidence from their to build an alliance.

  32. “I like Colin’s point about appealing beyond your own tribe. This actually means adopting policies in which you do not in fact believe.”

    ———–

    You don’t have to appeal beyond your own tribe if the press help you split your rival’s vote, by hyping immigration concerns, portraying Ed in Nicoka’s pocket etc

    This may prove awkward in a subsequent EU referendum of course but it will allow numerous peeps to claim the problem is that Labour hasnt adopted their view of the world, a world inhabited by a minority, rather than facing the impact of the media in all this…

  33. Kitsune

    It was done for Lord George Ffoulkes sake.

    (That fridge magnet sounds good!)

  34. “Blairism is never coming back, the left of the labour party are never again going to give their money, time, energy and enthusiasm for a project which lets them down.”

    I’m one for never saying never in politics. Perhaps we should wait for another thirteen years before assessing this particularly statement?

  35. @RAF I hope very much that you are right,

    I recently went to a meeting chaired by McDonnell and organised by the labour party. It was crowded out and there was massive enthusiasm. It was striking, however, that women were relatively rare (about a fifth in the seats around me) and people of African or Asian origin almost invisible. I saw two in a crowd of about 500. Is this typical of the labour party, meetings chaired by McDonnell or of current labour party members or just the particular meeting I went to? It’s something to which polling presumably provides an answer.

  36. Charles

    I wonder why you mention twice that McDonnell was chairing the meeting. Presumably you aren’t suggesting that he vetted the attendees (that’s more of a BBC QT practice :-) )

    In other political meetings that you have attended in your area, is the audience less gendered or ethnically (horrid word) biased?

  37. To be fair to Tony Blair, there were a lot of good things done in his governments.

  38. Alec

    Good point, things might look a little different in 13 years time

  39. Prof Howard

    I find it hard to think of any period in which the government, under any PM, didn’t do some good things.

    Equally, all of them did some bad things.

    The judgment has to rely on balancing up those two factors – unless we revert to a “1066 And All That” format (or normal party politics as it is also known).

  40. Oldnat

    You make an excellent point, as always.

  41. @ OldNat

    I gave the explanation why I took Scotland out – it is, politically, a different country. And I didn’t mean any negativity to it. Apologies if you saw it as such.

  42. @ OldNat

    End of the week … Slow to pick up the jester. Apologies for this.

  43. Charles – “Waking last night at a moment when Hilary Clinton was in the middle of her acceptance speech I was impressed by the way she seemed to be trying to forge a coalition and the things around which she wanted people to coalesce”

    Mrs Clinton’s coalition is so vast, that if we were Americans, you’d be voting for her, I’d be voting for her and George Osborne would be voting for her! In other words, she’s New Labour. Or rather the New Democrats on whom New Labour were modeled.

    The only reason that style of politics is toxic over here is because of the persona of Blair and his Iraq adventure. People don’t talk about New Labour anymore – it’s Blairites. His name has become an insult and is used to head off any attempts at compromise. Even though it should be an easy compromise to keep his domestic policies (he built 140 hospitals after all, in the teeth of opposition from the Treasury, without which we’d have capacity problems in the NHS) and ditch his foreign policy. Hatred of the man himself is so intense that it maddens people and obscures everything else, even though he left office nine years ago.

    There are some Corbynites who firmly believe “It would have been better Blair had never been elected and everything he did [min wage, tax credits, 140 new hospitals] remained undone”. Which gives you an idea of how unhinged people can become if they take hatred to an extreme.

  44. Laszlo

    My comment was a joke.

    I fully understood your explanation (and largely agreed with it), but the coincidence of seeing your phrase and Rachel’s – and being able to portray both of them totally out of context – was too good to resist.

    Then being able to parody the stereotype of the “over-sensitive Scot” was an added benefit [1].

    The worms were delicious, though! :-)

    [1] Interestingly, the Scottish Government is considering abandoning the term “benefit”, when certain social security provisions are devolved next year. Words acquire particular connotations over time, and language does matter in constructing or continuing social attitudes. A (currently) neutral term like “payment” is reckoned to be less divisive.

  45. @OldNat

    I prefer “entitlement”.

  46. Candy,
    The problem with these big these “big” tents is that there has not been one for a very very long time big enough to hold more than 43% of the voters..
    In countries with more democratic voting systems the coalitions on offer are normally obvious before the election because it is rare for any party to get a majority of the seats… but of course if the electorate want a single party to govern they can make it happen, as happened previously in Scotland..

  47. @Oldnat
    “I find it hard to think of any period in which the government, under any PM, didn’t do some good things. Equally, all of them did some bad things.”
    And for some people some of the bad things were good things, and some of the good things were bad things.

  48. Robin

    “Entitlement” used to be a good word – till the Tories changed its meaning to “that’s what you’ll get – whether you want it or not!”

    The terminology isn’t fixed, and hopefully will be adjustable, as language use changes too. “Dole” was a value free term in the early 20th century, as was “burroo” (perhaps a particularly Scots pronunciation of “bureau”) – as Employment Exchange offices were once known.

  49. @Oldnat The first Labour party meeting I attended in my area was a very pleasant surprise to me. As Candy will not be surprised to hear I had left the party after Iraq and returned after the election because I felt they needed all the support they could get, had expected to find the meeting either ill attended or full of ‘finger jabbing’zealots. In fact it was very well attended and amazingly diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, gender and anything else that might strike the eye. It was also courteous and thoughtful and genuinely enjoyable. I mention McDonnell twice because i guess that he would attract an above average proportion of momentum people but there was certainly no attempt to vet the audience. The subject was also industrial policy and I guess that there were a lot of trades unionists and their t shirts were definitely on show. So maybe it was the subject and the union interest that produced the possible over-representation of whites and males. Personally, you will be surprised to hear I would like a coalition with the Scots Nats on UK affairs but sadly I didn’t see any kilts either.

  50. Dave

    “And for some people some of the bad things were good things, and some of the good things were bad things.”

    Absolutely!

    For the Blair government, one need look no further than the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament. A great thing for many of us – an appalling disaster for others.

    Perhaps even more appropriate to judgments on PMs, is that Blair didn’t give a damn about it either way. He just wanted the SLab MPs that Dewar persuaded him that it would deliver.

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