Monday, September 22, 2008


Reasons for Labour to be Cheerful

Conference has met in a pretty sombre mood by all accounts with Simon Hoggart saying Gordon 'looked like a man who's been too long in the condemned cell, waiting for a reprieve.' Well, I reckon I've been a bit too negative over the past few weeks so I've tried hard to accentuate the positive in today's post.

1. Gordon's polling guru, Deborah Mattinson, told a fringe meeting that:

'55% of voters think Cameron is lightweight. This was illustrated, she said, by a focus group she conducted last week at which one participant said: "I reckon he was invented by a marketing department." Mattinson went on: "People do not understand what he stands for. He does not ring true." So maybe he's beatable after all.

2. Gordon is fighting back at last. His interview with Andrew Marr yesterday recognised some of his own failings, for once, and his argument that his long period in charge of the money, mixing with the best financial brains internationally made him the best person to clear up the current mess, did carry some credibility. Promising to crackdown on City bonuses will play well too, with his lefties.

3. Even though it is probably necessary for Gordon to step down to avoid the bloodbath which the Observer's poll predicted yesterday, I reckon he'll survive the conference without a knife being unsheathed with real intent. The economic crisis has ridden to his aid and no possible candidate has so far shown the balls to offer a challenge, though we hear that most members of his Cabinet think he's a busted flush.

4. Finally, last week's Observer ran an article on Lord (Bernard) Donoughue on his memoir of life as a Labour political insider. He thinks Labour was in much worse straits back in 1979 yet reduced the gap remarkably:

In 79, at the start of the campaign, we were 22% behind in an Observer poll. On election day we lost by 7%. We clawed back 15 points. That's why Gordon should read about that period. Things were even worse then." The current government, he points out, has still got nearly two years to erase its 20% deficit in the polls. And if it doesn't? "Opposition is always bad. You fight each other. If we go into opposition, we'll go in for 10 or 15 years."

I'm waiting for Gordon's speech tomorrow to provide a reason to be optimistic rather than merely cheerful. I'll report on whether than sentiment is appropriate some time tomorrow.

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