posted by lenin

The Sunday Times’ latest poll has the Tory lead down to 2% which, even if not reproduced uniformly in a general election, would produce a Labour minority government. The change is produced by a drop in the Tories’ support from 39% to 37%, and a rise for Labour from 33% to 35%, thus cutting a six point lead to a 2 point lead. The change in each party’s standing is in the margin of error (this is how it works, right?), so this probably an outlier.
But it does fit into a broader trend of Labour recovery, and it does add to the indications that the Tories’ lead was always fragile, and their support reluctant. Polls have shown that 82% of voters want ‘change’ in the government, but just over a third of voters think the Tories are that change. Some commentators had wondered if the entertaining pseudo-revelations of Blairite gossip columnist Andrew Rawnsley would land a fatal blow on the Brown government.
This is possibly because of a natural tendency to overestimate the prestige in which the public hold their profession. But Brown’s alleged personality defects probably only register in the public mind as the first vaguely interesting thing that has ever been known about him. And I can’t help thinking that it helps Brown to remind people of his long overdue coup against his emetic predecessor.
Another thing to bear in mind is that Yougov has consistently given Labour a better rating than other polls such as Angus Reid and ICM in the recent period. On the other hand, Yougov also has a reputation for accuracy as a result of more closely predicting election results than other agencies, so my suspicion is that the Tory leads have been exaggerated in other polls. Also of interest is the fact that on several important indicators, particularly the economy, the Tories have lost a hard-won advantage.
The attacks on Tories as spending slashers, upper class scum, millionaires out to reduce taxes on the rich, etc., is working. ‘Class war’, though denounced by the Tories, some Blairites, and every respectable newspaper columnist and leader-writer in the land, is an effective electoral strategy.
Interestingly, the Tories may have been following the advice of MigrationWatch in pushing some dog-whistling about immigration, despite strenuous denials that the issue is a central theme of theirs. Essentially, they want to allow the grass-roots to use the issue as much as possible, without tarnishing the national campaign with racism in the way that the disastrous 2005 campaign was.
Previous polling shows that this is the one issue on which a plurality trusts the Tories to do what the majority want. They don’t trust them to fix schools, look after the NHS or represent all groups in society equitably (whatever that would mean). But they trust them to smack black people around. All these years, all those Cameronite cries of ‘change’, all the soft focus touchy-feely hug-a-hoody compassionate conservatism sales pitches, and the Tories are still the nasty party. That’s not just their Unique Selling Point, it’s their only selling point, and they just can’t seem to shake it off.

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