Monday, October 08, 2012

 

Cameron's many Conference Problems

I tend to agree with the argument that of the three conferences, the current one is the most important for its party leadership. Cameron is facing a host of problems: plunging ratings; economic sclerosis, a emerging public perception that his is is an incompetent government and the circling of rivals for his throne.

This quotation by the nation's top psephologist puts the conference in context "People used to think Cameron was charismatic. But he is proving to be a kind of average prime minister. His ratings are not terrible, but he's not Thatcher, he's not Blair. He is not a dominant figure. Nobody loves him. That is why the Boris story is taking off." Professor John Curtice, University Strathclyde, 8th October 2012
This quotation from the Sunday Times, a Tory supporting organ, is quite damning: "Instead of clarity and decisiveness’, concludes the paper, ‘we have dithering and fudge. It will take more than a good speech from Mr Cameron to change that.’ In consequence of all this the polls are reflecting a popularity which has fallen off a cliff:

a)The Sunday Times' Yougov poll 7th October, detailed the degree of Cameron’s unpopularity. This showed Conservatives on 31%, Labour soaring on 45% and Lib Dems on a horrifying 8%. Asked whether the government is ‘competent’ the response was 35% ‘yes’ and 58% ‘no’. [Out of interest, the figures for Brown’s government were 24-69% and for Blair’s 45-48%] b)The Observer spread on the Tories 7th October showed Cameron’s rated as ‘favourable by 29% but unfavourable by 50%- a fairly disastrous result even for mid-term. c) to win an overall majority Tories need a 6-10% lead on election day but currently trail by 10-14 points.

Various rivals have been identified by the media but Liam Fox is too peripheral, Michael Gove a possible runner after defeat in 2015 and Osborne's ambition has always been in question. No the only really dangerous rival is the irrepressible Boris. The polls on this question make awful reading for Dave:
A poll in the Observer, 7th October, showed Boris with 21% viewing him ‘unfavourably’ and 51% ‘favourably’ When Conservative supporters were asked which of Cameron, Osborne or Johnson has they thought able to attract votes from those who might not normally support Tories the response was: Cameron 16%, Osborne 2% and Johnson 62%. Other questions posed by pollsters can hardly make Cameron sleep any more soundly:

a) Are you likely to consider voting Conservative in 2015: if Cameron remains leader- 29% but the figure unlikely to consider voting Conservative would be-56%

b) If David Cameron is replaced by an unspecified leader? 26% b ut 50% would not consider voting.

c) if Cameron replaced by Johnson: 32% would likely consider voting Conservative but 48% would not.
Who would you like to replace Cameron:

Boris 35%, Hague 20%, Theresa May, 5%, Michael Gove, 4%, Osborne, 3%, Other, 4%, DK 30%.

What is most striking about Boris is his ability to excite the Conservative Party, his ability, Like Michael Heseltine in his pomp, to reach parts of the party not accessible to other politicians, For Tories, he is a bit like Winston Churchill, a charismatic but volatile maverick who, they suspect, might achieve great things. Alternatively, despairing of Cameron, they might see a Tory Tony Blair, a magician who can win three successive elections.

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