Sunday, 6 December 2009

Polls Apart

The latest poll, this one by ICM for the Sunday Telegraph, shows a slightly more comfortable lead for the Conservatives over Labour. This one, in contrast to recent polls which have prompted alarm as they pointed to a hung Parliament, suggests a small Tory majority again. But it remains delicately balanced.

It looks as though all of these polls are coming out more or less with the same ball park figures. The differences can be largely put down to methodology and margin of error. The Tories will take some comfort from the fact that polls tend to underestimate their levels of support - although why this should be so when up against an unpopular Prime Minister and government is perhaps something they would prefer not to think about.

If and when Brown does call the election (my betting is still that he will go in May or possibly even June - if only because he won't be able to make up his mind and will get boxed in) it will be fascinating to see how his ratings go during the campaign. Clearly Labour, thanks to their lack of any decent policies or anything remotely interesting or visionary to say, are determined to go negative on the Tories. How will this play? And how will Brown cope in a campaign that will be relentlessly focused on him instead of Tony Blair? Labour should probably be worried about that.

For his part David Cameron has reacted to the Labour jibes about his background and education in a sensible and understated way. In an interview for today's BBC One Politics Show Cameron regarded their tactics as "petty, spiteful, stupid" but, he said "if that's what they want to do, you know, go ahead."

And this is all he can do to a tactic so obviously desperate and pathetic. This is the same Labour Party which won three elections in succession under privately educated Tony Blair. This is the same party which lectures us about equality and tolerance. Yet they seem content to attack a man because of where his parents chose to educate him. Clearly, for Labour and Gordon Brown in particular who has a peculiarly large chip on his shoulder about 'the rich' and private education, this is a form of discrimination which remains acceptable.

Cameron is right however to just shrug it all off. The public is unlikely to care much about the background of their next leader. They care about what he says, how he says it and what his policies are. In all of these areas Brown and his party are conspicuously lacking. These attacks on something so inconsequential, along with their dividing lines only illustrate how bankrupt they are in terms of real ideas and policies for the future.

Update:

There are two polls out today. A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times gives the Tories a 13 point lead. It's a bit of a rollercoaster ride at the moment but, if you strip out methodology and margin of error, the polls are broadly saying the same thing: a consistent lead for the Tories with Labour bouncing around the high twenties or low thirties. It's enough for a majority. And these national figures don't take into account what will happen in those key marginals in which, we are told, all of that Conservative campaigning is having a real effect. This is why I strongly suspect that Micawber Brown is going to hang on and hang on in the hope that something turns up. Don't expect an election for another six months and he may let it go right down to the wire in June.

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