We should be getting Ipsos MORI’s monthly voting intention survey soon, but in the meantime we do have their monthly issues tracker (they are done seperately these days – when MORI shifted to phone polling for their voting intention their unprompted most important issue tracker remained face-to-face).

The economy is, unsurprisingly, still seen as the most important issue, mentioned by 54% of respondents (significantly lower than its peak of 70% in January). Sharply rising now though is unemployment, the third most mentioned issue on 30%. According to MORI this is the highest level of concern over unemployment since 1995.

41 Responses to “MORI show unemployment rising up the agenda”

  1. Any bets that “LABOUR’S STILL NOT WORKING”

  2. Richard,

    I’d bet strongly against it.

    Few people will have forgotten, and Labour will remind them if they have, that the Tories campaigned on “Labour isn’t Working” with unemployment at 1 million and then took it to 3 million.

    Cameron is abit to smart to make a blunder like that.


  3. Peter,

    You say “Few people will have forgotten…”. That maybe true of those who are old enough to remember a campaign from more than 30 years ago. Bear in mind the average age of the population is 39.

    One thing this site has repeatedly shown is that people react strongly to short-term signals and weakly to longer-term ones.

    Do be cautious about how you calculate the figures. The real unemployment number (i.e. economically inactive 16-64 year olds) is already higher than the most extreme figures of the 80’s and early 90’s; and it has been stuck there for the past five years, whereas the oft referred to peak of 1983 lasted a matter of months.
    (Source ONS)

    Equally, unemployment is a big ship to turn. An eyeball analysis of long-term headline unemployment figures shows that it was rising as Labour last left office as a result of their policies and continued to do so under its own momentum for several years, for which the Conservatives naturally took the hit. Similarly, it had been falling for years prior to Conservatives leaving office in ’97 and continued to do so to the benefit of the Labour spin machine. This time around is no different.

    Finally, if you were writing Labour’s campaign, would you want to risk reminding people of the 70’s?

  4. two things come to mind during the run up to the election. number one 1997, the polls were not as good then as they are now so the 16% lead currently enjoyed by the tories could result in a worse defeat than that inflicted upon john major in 97, two that the polling data is right and that labour will regain some ground but still lose the election but it will not be a landslide just a stright forward swing from one to the other resulting in the lib dems being pyshed out side of the other parties overall and labour and the tories benifiting from this change in mood towards the lib dems but the tories still only winning a comfortabal but not large majority of say 40-60 seats the current projection based on the 51 months since the last election is a conservative majority of around 170 seats. how was this calculated.

    devid the amount of increese or decreese in any parties vote since the last election by the number of months since the election and round it up or down to the nearest two decesimal points and times it by sixty this will give you the projected movement up or down for each of the parties add or take this away from the total at the last election after rounding it up or down to one decisimal point and this will give you the final total.

  5. …add back the number you first thought of…

  6. Phils dad,

    The Tories campaigned on high unemployment and then it rose, the Tories would be mad to bring that back up, particularly as unemployment could still be rising as we enter the election campaign.

    Negative campaigning is effective and the tories would be unwise to have a campaign where they said;

    ” yet again Labour isn’t working” and Labour said “Yet again your lieing”

    As to both parties getting drawn in to a fight about the past, that would save labour just fine. Camerons appeal is largely not being Labour, but he doesn’t want to be Thatcher either.

    Part of the Labour attack aginst the Tories ( about the only half decent one they have) is that behind Cameron they are still the same as they were.

    The Tories using the same campaign as before would play in to that. In addition give the banking crisis labour could probably make a go of arguing that it was exactly the unregulated free market policies of Thatcher ( even if New Labour itself followed them) that got us in this mess.

    It’s not the nationalised industries orr the Unions that are to blame this time.

    It may well be a profligate government that expanded state spending on the back of tax reciepts from an unsustainable credit boom, but it isn’t the dead hand of the state.

    New Labours failure this time stems from relying on the free market not restricting it.

    So for a number of reasons the Tories would do well not to reprint old posters, because they want to distance themselves and the campaign from the past portraying themselves as new and different to the same tired labour party where as labour want to scare people about tory cuts.


  7. Phil’s dad,

    Have to agree with Peter on the question of campaign themes.

    In any case, rising unemployment in the late 70s early 80s was due to sclerotic industrial practices which made British industry inefficient. Labour’s contribution to that situation was in promoting Union rights ahead of modernising industry such that Britain could not compete in world markets. The poor state of public finances was due to laggardly economic growth compounded by rapid inflaton.

    Rising unemployment now is due to foreseeable bust after years of unsustainable debt-fuelled expansion led by excessive government spending. The key issue is not that industry is inefficient but that the public finances (and personal balance sheets too) are in a dreadful state due to over-borrowing.

    The key economic theme for the election will necessarily be the need to bring the public finances back under control, and what that means for both public services and taxation. The need for the country to start living within its means is a message that will resonate at both micro and macro scale and at all levels.

    Blair aimed his “New Labour” pitch clearly at the C1s. I would not be surprised to se the laregst swings at the next election among the DE socio-economic groups. Though they may not all swing to Con, they will certainly desert Lab in large numbers.

  8. Phil’s Dad,

    Going to agree with Paul HJ and Peter Cairns. “Labour Isn’t Working” was a campaign slogan solely for the times.

    The Tories then went on to govern with unemployment stuck permanently above the figure bequeathed by Callaghan’s administration (1.4m), with just under 2m being unemployed in 1997 when Blair won power (and many millions more having been shovelled on the sick).

    These are febrile times, and I wouldn’t discount a mini Labour revival of just a few percentage points minimising the inevitable Tory majority next year. The Tories don’t seem to have a consistent theme, and have easily been wrongfooted by events on too many occasions recently to completely seal the deal.

  9. @BenM – sorry but a reality check, do you really feel that the Tories have been wrong footed enough for even a slight rise in GB’s fortunes? The man is now used in more panel shows as an easy laugh than Georgeous George Hedgerow. If the leader does not change, then expect a large defeat for labour next year.

  10. I think the Tories’ main campaign theme will be debt. They have been trying very hard to link in people’s mind the private debt (bad mortgages, credit card spending) etc that was at the root of the current bust with the public debt incurred by GB. Whilst the link itself is fairly tenuous, it has a thematic elegance that I suspect will stick. They can talk about “Labour’s debts” and people will think not just about budget deficits but also about defaulted loans and blame Gordon for the lot.

    The advantage of debt is that it is not something (unlike unemployment) that people associate with the Tories, and it is not something (unlike the recession itself) which will have gone away by the time of the next election. And also, campaigning on reducing debt is a coded way of planning for tax increases and spending cuts which the Tories know will be inevitable. They will be able to claim an electoral mandate for unpalatable policies later. It even has a slight pro-Unionist slant to it, as Scots voters may not like the idea of taking on a pro-rata percentage of such a colossal debt as a sovereign nation.

  11. I think there’s a good chance that the Tories will run on the unemployment theme – it’s an issue that often seems to go against the party in power, regardless of any long term trends. Also, I don’t think Cameron will be afraid of the ’79 comparison either. For one thing, any Labour attempts to paint him as another Thatcher would probably backfire – the two have completely different styles and the comparison is almost laughable, not to mention the fact that the accompanying Brown-Callaghan comparison would be devastating. Furthermore, I think I’m right in saying that it’s Tory policy to reclassify many on long-term disability benefit as unemployed, so they’ll be able to turn around and say “of course the unemployment figures will rise – we’ll tell you the truth”. I really can’t see Labour making any gains on this issue.

  12. Prediction for Mori Poll:

    Con 43%
    Lab 25%
    Lib 21%

  13. Wayne you remind me of that saying if a tramp wears rags he is just a tramp,if a millionaire wears rags they are eccentric.

    You keep on getting those predictions right,we will have to give you the new name mystic Wayne.

    As for the poll in question we are just in a holding pattern now before the Conference season if you ask me,they may change up or down for one or another party by 2 points or so,we are now set though until end Sep through mid Oct in my opinion.

    The fact that unemployment is now becoming an issue is not a surprise of course,it is just yet another cut on the way to the death by a thousand cuts for labour,or a final nail in Browns & labours coffin,there are so many nails in that coffin mind dracula couldn’t get out,the living dead,talikng of Gordon where is he?

    Ok enough of the cliche sayings,seriously wouldn’t we expect the PM to comment on the biggest mass murderer in British history being released?

  14. LIke i have said before though,it is a undeniable fact that the 3m figure that the tories had unemployed would have been 1.5 m if they had the size of the public sector that Labour has today.

    DC should face the argument head on & see what Labour has to say to that FACT!

  15. The American media are now attacking the British government head-on. (Washingtontimes.com-encouraging terrorists). No mention of Scotland, but serious criticism of Brown’s role and lack of comment.This must surely be a devastating blow to Anglo-American relations and very dangerous for the government. The problem is not going away.

  16. Rich

    This weeks lottery numbers are 1 2 3 4 5 6 bonus
    ball 7

    yours mystic

    ps. Dracula is in the london bunker sleeping in his red coffin

  17. I am not sure how helpful this analysis is. “The economy” and “unemployment” are not independent issues, so if people change their answer from saying that the economy is the most important issue to saying that unemployment is the main issue, this may reflect a change in the way they are describing their concerns rather than an actual change in their concerns. Although of course the number of us who are unemployed is rising rapidly.

    I have had a quick look at the MORI site. I see that Law and Order and Race are also high on the list of main concerns. Some other issues like Health and Defence are surprisingly low.

    A notably long-term trend is that Education has dropped massively as a voters’ main concern since 1997. (It would be interesting to know about Higher Education as a separate possible concern, giving what is happening about university entrance).

    I’m not sure how useful it is to pull out headline information from this MORI survey (except to generate newspaper articles!). This survey really needs to be interpreted by in depth analysis of the data, including longitudinal comparisons. Even then, interpretation would require consideration of a number of underlying assumptions. And in any case I am not sure that the freely available data is adequate for such an exercise – perhaps MORI keeps more detailed information for their subscribers.

  18. It would be a strange quirk of fate if Labour were to be punished on employment – or the lack of it.

    I seem to recall the Conservatives pushing it up to 3.5 million and caring little. Their responses to recent events suggest they would adopt a similar approach again – if or when faced with a recession.

    Still, the public are the electorate. And they are clearly in no mood to give Labour any plus points.

    It looks very much like 1997 all over again. And the public mood is this ‘We want change’.

    No doubt, in ten years or so, the pendulum will swing back and the clamour will be to see the Tory party removed from office ASAP.

    Politics is a funny old game……..

  19. anthony wells-

    i’ve seen no sign of the voting intentions from bipx being put up on thw web-site yet and dose anyone know when mori monthly figures are coming out

  20. Unemployment may be as high as it was under the Tories in the 80s because many people are on other kinds of benefits apart from normal unemployment benefit.

  21. Labour will suffer from high unemployment in a way the Tories did not in ’83 and ’87 because many swing voters and labour core voters are losing their jobs now and many more are afraid they will or know people who have.
    Norman Tebbit was honest enough to admit after he left front line politics that the Tories knew that most of their core voters and swing voters outside the Industrial Heartlands would not care about unemployment in the North, Scotland etc. All we had to do was keep 40% on side any more was a bonus.
    In short the Tories could rely on ‘I’m alright Jack’ Labour can’t.
    Galtieri helped of course and scargill.

  22. Jim Jam

    More Galtieri than Scargill. The Miners’ strike was 1984 – after the 1983 election, and by 1987 the economy was booming – bit like 2001.

    It also helped that Foot was a walking disaster in 1983 while Kinnock lacked Blair’s appeal to “middle England” in 1987.

    Had Labour not disintegrated after their 1979 defeat, then Maggie could have had a rough ride in 1983 – had she not been saved by the Falklands factor.

    But while we are on the speculation, what do you think would have happened had Kinnock scraped a small majority in 1992 ?

  23. The problem the Tories have is their over-reliance on the “time for a change” meme.

    1997 had a similar atmosphere, but by then public servces were perceived to be in such a state following reckless underinvestment that the Labour manifesto could boast substantive policies.

    Voters knew Labour would spend money on a concrete objective.

    In contrast, at the moment the Tories, who are in the same place Labour were in 1996, are all over the place. They ride high in the polls due to Labour’s incumbency at a time of crisis and constant bumbling, but are also hostages to fortune – a sign that the credit crunch has fatally undermined their economic credentials. The Dan Hannan’s of this world also damage Tory credibility.

    If the economy does show signs of weak improvement between now and next June, that will result in a small – albeit flaccid – uptick for Labour with every percentage point gained chipping away at the likely Tory majority.

  24. @BenM,

    I think you may have swallowed one or two Labour propaganda items in terms of “reckless underinvestment” by the Tories. It is certainly true that the Tories increased spending on public services by a smaller amount than the subsequent Labour government, but I think people are now starting to wonder if all that Labour spending was actually affordable. It could be argued that although the Tories wanted to improve public services, they weren’t prepared to break the bank to do it.

    Personally I think most of the talk about “public service underinvestment” boils down to the usual griping about public service delivery, massaged a bit by Labour’s spin doctors. It was pretty effective though, because people talk about it now as if it was some sort of impartial historical fact.

    And although there was a lot of enthusiasm for New Labour in 1997, I don’t really think it was based on massive support for any specific policies they were proposing. Then, as now, it was all about “getting the other lot out” and “time for a change”. I don’t think the Tory upsurge has quite such shaky foundations as people suppose. I think the most dangerous thing for the Tories would be to be drawn into outlining a whole range of detailed policies (Labour 1983 style) rather than letting disenchantment with the government do the work for them.

  25. An interesting aspect of these figures that isn’t good news for the Tories but might also effect labour is what unemployment has displaced.

    In 1997 at the time of the general election when Labour came to power the top two issues in the public eye were Education ( as in “Education, Education, Education”) at 54% and the NHS ( as in “24 hours to save the NHS”) at 63%

    Those two issues are now at 12% and 16% less combined than unemployment at 30%, which was at 28% then about where it is now.

    The big change is that where as the Economy was at 22% then, way behind health and education, it’s at 54% now.

    So where as the Tories just ahead on the NHS is good news for them , because you want to close any gap, it might not be the vote winner it once was.

    It’s the same for education, it’s all well to pull ahead but if it’s on an issue that isn’t a clincher for voters it won’t win you an election.

    The issue for Labour is that behind, with less than a year to go, they can’t hope to make up the gap by banging on about their old favourites.

    So we’re back to Bill Clinton; “It’s the economy stupid”.

    In theory that should play to Browns strengths but in reality I don’t think it will be because it would mean putting him at the heart of the Campaign and he is a media disaster.

    As my wife is a Psychologist she has been working recently on EI ( emotional intelligence) the role that understanding and controlling your own emotions and emphasising and ultimately influencing those of others is a key to success.

    On paper Al Gore should have wiped the floor with Bush and his camp were keen to get as many debates as possible.

    In practice the public empathised with Bush as they liked him, even to the extent that some saw Gore as beating up on the little guy. Like Mondale and Kerry the public just didn’t take to a seemingly cold uncharismatic guy.

    McCain lacked charisma compared to Obama, who seems to be the ideal candidate in being both smart and likeable. Obama brought in Biden to add Gravatas while McCain brought in Palin to appeal to “The folks out there”.

    How people choose smiles over brainst might not be rational, but the public often aren’t.

    So for me Cameron should lead as a compassionate conservative, passionate about helping the little guy through a recession not of his making, always being straight about the hard times ahead and appearing to hate the hard measures he’ll have to take, while all the time portraying the technocratic Brown as a cold calculating machine.

    He has the media skills and talent to pull off “I feel your pain”, while when Brown tries it he comes across with all the warmth of a speaking clock.


  26. So Gordon Brown despite all the’Labour investment against tory cuts’ mantra is himself going to announce cuts.

    Also how will it play with the labour vote that has returned slightly the 3-4%,will they now once again ditch Labour as it seems they are soft Labour voters?

    Did they despite all the evidence give Brown the benefit of the doubt one last time?.

    Will Labour now drop back to the 21-22% mark in the polls?

    Will the labour rebels keep quiet for much longer?

  27. It now looks increasingly the case that we could be faced with a nationwide postal-strike & a nationwide fire-fighters strike.

    Winter of Discontent?

  28. Peter,

    Very interesting and illuminating post. The “personality” issue will be significant, and possibly devastating for Labour, in the GE campaign itself .

    While in 1997 Blair came over as likeable (and hence believable), this was not that much of a contrast with Major, whose biggest problems were appearing weak and not in control of his fractious party. Other cabinet members had good plus points (Ken Clarke – blokeish) but there were several negatives (Portillo – arrogant, Redwood – cold) plus a bunch of non-entities (many of whom lost their seats, never to be heard of again). Of the shadow cabinet, most were unknown, with only a handful of high profiles. But whatever one’s view of the individuals, one had the clear impression that Blair was in charge and would keep the nutters in check.

    In comparison, in 1992 Major was clearly ahead of Kinnock on the empathy stakes. Personally, I don’t subscribe to the view that Labour had the election in the bag till Kinnock blew it at Sheffeld – though that did undoubtedly serve to underline any doubts people had about him. Had John Smith been leader before the 1992 election (instead of after), then it would have been a much tighter result, and we could have had a Lab/LD coalition. This would almost certainly have collapsed after the ERM crisis and ushered in a far more eurosceptic (and united) Tory government from about 1993..

    Coming back to Brown vs Cameron. We can discuss the respective merits / demerits of cabinets or manifestos, but the stark contrast between the two must really make some Labour MPs ask themselves why they bottled the coup against Brown in June. It may have saved them a few seats, but it is now too late since any attempt to change leader in the last few months will truly smack of desperation, and will likely be severely punished by the electorate.

    The danger for Labour is that if they cannot pull back to c30% on a consistent basis before the election campaign begins, they could indeed fall behind the LDs in share of the vote as Brown’s character could cost them another 3-5% in those 3-5 weeks.

  29. I think John smith would have won as he strikes me loking back as a cross between Blair and Brown and that could have made a great primeminster.

    As to the ERM I am not sure you are right. Thatcher took us in unillaterally at too high a rate without even discussing it with her chancellor let alone the normal lenghty discussions with other EU finance ministries.

    I just can’t see Smith as the type to just take us in at 1.95 without discussing it and if that is right then all other bets about the possible out comes are off.


  30. @ Paul H-J

    People often say that Falklands won 1983 for Maggie, but the polls were rising for her beforehand, presumably with the rising economy.

    Also, surely Labour’s 1983 manifesto wasn’t called “the longest suicide note in history” for nothing.

  31. Richard,

    “Had Labour not disintegrated after their 1979 defeat, then Maggie could have had a rough ride in 1983 …”

    “the longest suicide note in history” was a part of the aforementioned Labour disintegration .

    Maggie would have won in 1983 without the Falklands, but the combination of Labour ineptitude and Falklands victory guaranteed the landslide which would certainly not have been forecast in early 1982, still less 1981.

  32. I wonder with the Break Brown has had, finally it has dawned on him his dream of going down as a great British PM is over.

    I find it odd that when he came back after the month break he did not attack the tories,he said labour will have to make cuts,not efficiency saving but cuts.

    With our deliberations on this forum & other forums & the media we forget the personal aspect of things.

    In 8 months time come what may Brown will be leaving #10 Downing St,he has had 4 weeks to discuss with his wife their future.

    All Browns life he has dreamed of the job as PM,there comes a time though when everyone has to at times admit defeat,his PM legacy is unrepairable,his Labour legacy faces the same fate.

    Brown does not want to see the Party he has been in his whole life destroyed perhaps coming 3rd at a GE & facing a generation in opposition,perhaps not even the main opposition.

    With the debt forecasts worsening by the day with threatened strikes,Labour Party broke,mostly because the donors don’t like Brown,unemployment to be 3m+ by 6 May 2010,if with all this if Labour except that they have lost the next GE, why would Brown wait until May 2010?

    I will watch carefully his performance in the coming weeks,just maybe to avoid a Labour Party wipeout in 2010,to avoid 3m unemployed,avoid the pre-budget in Nov & the Budget in March 2010,avoid coming 3rd at the GE,are we going to get an October GE?

  33. Peter,

    Correction: Major took UK into the ERM in October 1990 at a rate of DM 2.95 – against the instincts of the PM. At the time Maggie was already (fatally ?) weakened having already lost one Chancellor (Lawson) over the issue and in danger of losing her former Chancellor (Howe) on a related European problem. If history shows that joining the ERM at too high a rate was a mistake, then history shows that it was Maggie who was right and Lawson / Major who were wrong.

    On the question of John Smith, yes he could conceivably have won a narrow majority, but I believe that a hung Parliament was more likely. Don’t forget that Major was popular and had just “won” a war. He did after all pull off the highest vote of any party leader ever – more even than Blair in his 1997 landslide. Charismatically, Smith did not have Kinnock’s negative baggage, but his plus points were no greater than Major’s.

    As to Smith’s approach to the ERM: whatever his view of the entry rate – he never promised to change it. Membership of the ERM (and EMU too) was absolutely central to Labour’s economic platform in 1990-1992 – as wholly subscibed to by the then Shadow Chief Secretary and likely Chancellor under a John Smith Premiership. Put in perspective, the effect of the ERM crisis on a theoretical Smith government could be compared to a scenario with Brown being forced to revoke BoE independence on interest rates and hiking taxes in autumn 1997.

    Of course Smith did not become Labour leader until after the 1992 defeat. It is by no means certain that he would have become leader had Kinnock resigned in 1987, and in 1990/91 his health may well have led the party to look elsewhere – possibly Robin Cook, Bryan Gould, or even Jack Straw.

    Equally, had Kinnock won the 1992 election, Blair would presumably have been the flag-bearer of a new generation when Labour returned to opposition. Not sure whom he would have been facing across the despatch box – probably still Major, but could well have been Portillo.

  34. @ Paul H-J

    Sorry, missed that line. In which case, I agree!

  35. it is funny that for ten years of employment growth we have been told ‘the economy’ is not important, and ‘happiness’ is not a factor in quality of life. Until we start to see employment decline.

  36. Rich,

    Before reading your post I had been thinking along similar lines.

    I was also thinking that we’re now at the end of the August season and politicians will be back looking at the next few months and not just at current Opinion Polls

    From a Labour Party perspective the key issue is are things going to improve between now and next May or not?

    Projecting the economy etc on to May 2010 the unemployment figures for March will be published and no one expects the figures to have peaked much before then.

    In that context I don’t think one should forget that if Darling does bring VAT back to 17.5% (and from a financial point of view he has little choice) there will hardly have been any retail boom, most people having brought forward any purchases when VAT at 15% so little chance of any improvement in unemployment until after Easter-(April next year).

    At 3.2 M not exactly a good basis for an election especially for a Labour PM.

    Still on the economy the Autumn will have seen, so we are promised the Financial Statement – Given Brown’s recent comments on cuts it is difficult to see how they can avoid spelling something out!

    Yes the fourth quarter figures due in the New Year will (hopefully) show an improvement in GDP (possibly aided by the VAT scenario) but they will also show a greatly enhanced debt figure, self evidently contrasted with original Budget forecasts!

    With the polls as they are some discontent is bound to surface, even if there’s no stomach for a major revolution – still unsettling and likely to undermine any Government or Policy announcements

    Finally Brown’s image is, as all the polls agree, very poor in any comparison with Cameron.

    So what is the alternative?

    Firstly Brown scores best in an international context.

    The G20 is in September and he came over well at the last such gathering and it will be more difficult for Cameron, still less Clegg, to star against that.

    Having an election in the Autumn would pre-empt the adverse events referred to above. Furthermore at a Party Conference having called an election strong unity would be displayed thus eliminating dissent. Then playing on the International Stage could reduce the chance of a major defeat and even possibly prevent a Tory victory

    OK the latter may be unlikely but it could certainly reduce the prospect of a Tory landslide.

    So if it would so strongly give Labour a better chance why not an election soon?

    Well two reasons. Firstly it would require Brown to make a decision he didn’t have to and given his absolute aversion to that a pretty strong reason Secondly he likes the status of being PM why give it up?

    I suspect the answer lies with his wife if she tells him she doesn’t like his stress and workaholic lifestyle and that if he gave up being PM he could take on an international role where he would be appreciated then may be, just may be, we could have an election at the end of next month or the beginning of October.

  37. Paul,

    Your quite correct on it being 2.95 and not 1.95, but I think you should check the Major v Thatcher part.

    I think it’s in his Autobiography that Thatcher called him out of the blue and effectively told him to do it. he was a strong advocate of entrty and had argued for it but the way it was done and the rate was down to Thatcher.


  38. @ Cllr Peter Cairns


    “Mr Lawson quit, frustrated that Mrs Thatcher was under the thumb of her Eurosceptic economic adviser, Sir Alan Walters, and would never yield.

    John Major, the new Chancellor, eventually pressurised a vulnerable Mrs Thatcher into changing her mind.

    Paragraphs removed from the two papers, but accidently leaked to the BBC, show how politics drove crucial economic decisions.

    “Mrs Thatcher’s removal of her veto on ERM membership was determined by her own increasing political weakness,” the papers said. “October 1990 was clearly not an optimal time for the UK to join the ERM.” Mr Major told Mrs Thatcher ERM membership was the price she would have to pay for a cut in interest rates. “

  39. DAVID D

    The biggest problem Labour have is they have lost all control of events.The one thing we have stopped talking about is the Lib-dems,if they were to have a superb Conference as their expectations are low & easy for them to beat.labour have a poor conference with rebels speaking out,coupled with Glasgow by-election loss,bad unemployment & fiscal data,labour could go into Jan 2010 in 3rd place.

    I have always thought that with a budget due almost at the same time as a dissolution,Labour may not be able to pollitically afford a May 2010 Election with a bad news budget almost assured at end of March start of April 2010.

    It is almost taken for granted that a return to positive GDP growth will return Labour to 30% or so in the polls,maybe the people who assume this have not taken into account the British media,they always look on the gloomy side,as soon as the recession has ended they will talk of double dips or unemployment and debt.

    Also we do not know about talks behind the scenes on the fiscal front,the credit agencies have warned the UK or S&P have,in short they want the UK not to make cuts but to spell out cuts that will be made in the coming years,they may not wait until June/July 2010 for the next UK Government to announce these things,is this behind the change of heart by Brown on public spending cuts announced on Tuesday? if so & reality has set in at #10 a May 2010 GE could be political suicide for Labour,as they will have to spell out in full the cuts before a May Election.

    Labour may well conclude, try & hold theiir Party together for a united conference,try & milk good news from an official end of the recession then go for it in OCT or NOV.

    Labour will lose in my opinion but looking at a 50 seat tory Maj,compared to a 100-150 tory Maj may not seem important now,but in the years after the election & the state of the Labour Party post Brown it may be crucial to whether the Labour Party is out of power for 10 yrs or 20+.

  40. Richard Manns,

    Thanks for that link. Interesting article. And timing too – I wonder if it was deliberately placed to undermine Howard in run-up to 2005 election ?

    Rich / David D,

    Plausible view. An Autumn election and change of government would be in the best interests of the country and practically everyone in it except those Labour MPs facing unemployment and all (current)Ministers who will see a big drop in their income (assuming they retain their seat). Even those on welfare or in the publis sector who see Tories as a threat to their lifestyle / livelihood must now realise that cuts in public spending will happen regardless of who is in power, and the sooner that the issues are properly debated and addressed the better it will be in the medium/long-term.

    So, IF Brown no longer sees May 2010 as being in his personal best interest – a view likely to be as much influenced by Mrs Brown as by anyone else, including Mandy – then we may see Brown summoning the courage to do the right thing for the country.

    Any bets that “LABOUR’S STILL NOT WORKING”’

    Of course it also applies in right wing countries as it’s a world wide problem generated by both left and right wing govts.. Neat to note, as well, that China -Communist, gasp, horror, horror,- seems to be getting out of tit all pretty well.

    My point is simple; a little bit of comparative world awareness never goes amiss… Tabloid press platitudes like yours are just insulting…