Monday, May 12, 2008

 

Voter Volatility Gordon's Last Hope?

And still the bad news rolls in. Just when poor old Gordon is reeling on the ropes and praying for the bell, another volley of punches comes raining in. Yesterday was a perfect storm of reverses.

1. Prezza's Memoirs: John Prescott was the ultimate insider to the rivalry between Blair and Brown and we got some of the dirt in the first serialisation of his book:

Brown was “frustrating, annoying, bewildering and prickly”. He sulked so often during meetings that they had to be abandoned. On other occasions he could “go off like a bloody volcano”.

However, Prescott did Brown a favour in confirming that Blair did promise to stand aside, initially halfway through the second term, then subsequently at other times, especially in 2004, when he did in fact, nearly stand down. Prescott concludes the feud was 'Tony's fault', though he also urged Blair at one time, to sack his turbulent Chancedllor.

2. Levy's Memoirs: Lord Levy cannot believe that Brown knew nothing about the cash for honours practice of raising loans to finance the 2005 election. The implication is that Brown, who used the police investigation as a stick to beat Blair as he sought to hound him out of office 2006-7, was as complicit as anyone.

3. Cherie's Memoirs: Brown must have been relieved Cherie did not twist the knife. She claimed her differences with Gordon were 'nothing personal'(but can you believe that?) and reckoned Tony would have gone in 2004 had Gordon not appeared to be intent on frustrating Blair's policy for public services.

4. Possibly worst of all was the Politics Home authoritative survey of a massive 5000 strong panel which: revealed only one in five voters thinks he is doing a good job while three quarters think he is doing a bad job and half a 'very bad job'. Even worse, he falls behind Cameron on just about every leadership quality. The commentariat sharpened their knives before plunging them yesterday into the already well bloodied body of the beleagured PM.

5. Finally, an ICM poll of voters in Crewe, due to vote on 22nd May in the byelection revealed a 10% swing to the Conservatives(43%-39%) which would remove Labour's 7000 majority.

Is there any ray of hope for Gordon? Not the way he is going right now, but he does have two years to turn things around- mind you, so did Major in 1995 but he just twisted in the wind. Maybe his best consolation is that voter opinions are so volatile right now. Back in the sixties when voters were closely attached emotionally to their parties, movement was gradual and polls slow to shift. But now, cast adrift from old allegiances, they are like spinnakers, filling up with any passing breeze and haring off in different directions. So we saw Brown's healthy lead in August 2007 dissolve within a few days after Osborne's speech on inheritance tax. The current crush voters have on Dave could end almost as easily in my view; all it needs is a thoroughly negative story or a policy slip up by him, or, more likely his close supporters, for example Boris in City Hall.

PS Oh Lor! Frank Field has just said he doesn't think Gordon will be leader of the party at the time of the next election!

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