Monday, November 23, 2009


Something, at Last, to Cheer Up Labour

The run into the election, slated for 6th May 2010, promises to be gripping for more than just the political anoraks. Hitherto it had rather been assumed Cameron would promenade through the winter months and early spring to stroll into Downing St come the summer. His poll leads of 20 points a few months back all pointed in this direction- not to mention his high personal ratings and Brown's disastrous ones- and eager politics watchers like me or even depressed members of the Labour Party, like me, had more or less accepted it was 'game over'. But then came Sunday's poll. To say this changes everything would be to overstate the case but then again, maybe it does as it must have rudely shaken up growing Conservative expectations they would win at a canter come polling day. A lead of 6% (37-30% with Lib Dems on 17%) would leave them short of an overall majority by a couple of dozen MPs or more. Oh dear! Time for a Tory rethink.

Of course this is only one poll and it could be a rogue one but it does follow a shortening of the lead in recent weeks and the surprisingly solid Labour win over the SNP in the Glasgow by election. Maybe Cameron's gamble on being upfront about cuts in public spending was a bit too, well, upfront? Maybe, also, the economy is turning the corner. Maybe we're in 1992 territory when a government came apparently from behind, to win a famous victory. I'd settle for a hung parliament to be honest and this is now what all the buzz is about in all the columns.

Bob Worcester (pictured) in the Observer offers his experienced and expert perspective:

Four of the seven polls taken so far in November have given the Tories less than the magic 40% share they will need for an overall majority. None, until now, has had Labour over 30%, its traditional "core" vote. The 37% Tory share to 31% for Labour suggested by the poll – with the Liberal Democrats languishing at 17% – will alarm David Cameron a little, and his candidates standing in marginal seats a lot. On a uniform swing projection, such a close result would suggest that, while the Tories would be gaining a respectable 82 seats, this would still leave them 35 seats short of the 117 they need for an overall majority. They would still form a government, but would struggle to govern. These new figures show a 4.5% swing from Labour to the Conservatives compared with 2005.

Such a swing is 4 whole points below the average during the year so far of 8.5%. Is it a blip? Maybe, but maybe not. Worcester adds a telling coda to his article:

The projections show just how precarious the likelihood of a stable Tory majority is. Bring the Tories down one percentage point to 40% and Labour up a percentage point to 28%, and Cameron's majority falls to just 30 seats (7.5% swing). But if the Tories fall by another point, to 39%, and Labour comes in at 29% (holding the Lib Dems at 18% and others at 14%), then Cameron would be two seats short of a majority on a swing of 6.5% from Labour's 2005 result, even though he would enjoy a lead of 10 points over Labour.

Nick Clegg, after playing the coy m aiden for a while has let it be known he will fall for the man who clearly has won a mandate from the people either in seats or votes. So a coalition possibility is now there but I wonder:

a) would Cameron accept a deal on voting reform ?

b) would Clegg accept Cameron's euroscepticism?

c) is there any way Clegg would give Brown a chance of extending his career as prime minister given the poor fist he had made of it since 2007?

Maybe Jackie Ashley is right today when she suggests a sharp change of leader might be the price Labour have to pay top stay in power. Whatever the status of this poll- rogue, a blip, anomaly- it's certainly warmed up the contest and given Labour supporters something at last to feel more cheerful about.

One poll your happy, I'd say the people that matter the ones at the bottom those with £68 unemployment, the sick the disabled the poorest the pensioners who will lose DLA because they are over 65 will be voting Tory I know I will, because I'm fast coming up to sixty five and my DLA is all I have to live on. so sod one poll lets wait and see.
Such a result would only focus attention on Scotland's(and Wales') rotten boroughs. Almost certainly, the Tories will win a majority in the UK. However, what matters is that they will win an overwhelming majority in England, since this is (de-facto) an election to the English Parliament. If Scotland's block vote interferes with this clearly expressed will of the English people(as it interfered with their rather less clearly expressed will in 2005), then I would expect a challenge in the courts, and widespread public unrest.

Unlikely. But a Tory win will be in everyone's interests this time round.
You are right about Scotland and Wales being anomalous and there would indeed be discontent on the right but I'm not sure on what basis there could be a challenge in the courts?
And the other polls show the Tories are still miles ahead, so no change the public still see labour as a problem I know I do.
You're probably right on that. We don't have a written constitution and the courts would probably shy away from such a subject. But it is a situation that will have to be fixed sooner or later - it is patently unfair, as many Scots and Welsh would acknowledge.
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