28 February 2010

Election fever Part X: Is it time for Brown to see the Queen?

Everything else can wait.  This is the bombshell that will cause the Tory party to go into meltdown:

CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 17%(+1)

Not only has the Tory lead has been cut to 2%, but Labour’s share of the vote has increased.  Mike Smithson comments:

This is a fantastic poll for Labour who, almost unbelievably, are now only per percent down on what they were at the 2005 general election when they got 36%.

Anthony Wells make this important point:

It could just be sample variation – or it could be a further narrowing of the lead. With just a single poll, it’s impossible to tell. All I can say is what I always say when a poll shows sharp movement – until we see some more polls that support or contradict the further narrowing of the polls – be wary.

The Sunday Times has further details:

Today’s poll suggests recent claims about Brown’s tantrums and his intimidation of staff may have actually helped him. Just 28% of people believe the prime minister is a bully and 50% agree he has a “strong sense of right and wrong”.

YouGov have delivered the perfect storm that will break over Brighton this morning.  Brown doesn't need any of Wilson’s tricks now.  This poll has done the job for him.

Today, Brown has to take the decision whether to call an election on 25 March.  He knows that the Tories have lost momentum and the initiative.  He knows Cameron is making mistakes.  He also knows that he has no control over any unknown unknowns that could bubble up if he waits until April or May.

He should forget about Chilcot, the local elections, about whether Labour has enough money to fight the campaign or if the party is ready.  Mandelson is on hand, with his management skills, to resolve all the little details.

It’s the big picture that Brown must look at today.  He must have the confidence to trust his instincts and judgement.

He will be doubly aware that Cameron is to get to his feet at 2pm to make a speech without notes.  The last time that happened, Brown dithered and called off the non-election of 2007.  There must be no repeat of that little episode.  That would be fatal.

He could take the decision by 2pm and tell Cameron before he speaks that he is seeking an audience with the Queen.  He may even choose to leak the news while Cameron is on his feet.  The Tory conference would disintegrate before our very eyes.

Perhaps he should be reminded of a quote from Mark Twain:

I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.

Today, Brown has an opportunity that may never repeat itself.

Go on Gordon, pluck up the courage and give us all a Sunday to remember.

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  1. Even with his history of (errm) over-caution, Brown would be wise to wait.

    I find this poll difficult to digest, let alone stomach! Fair enough, the Tories are leaking votes like a hissing balloon, but this collapse is inexplicable. There are no corresponding external events, particularly on the Labour side, to explain such a shift in opinion.

    Other than Brown bullying YouGov participants or Mandelson sacrificing small creatures to the Dark One, such a shift cannot be understood.

    Political Betting is full of puzzled posters, in particular because of a change from 6% to 2% in later editions of the Sunday Times. This is in addition to some disquiet over the unweighted results and the weighting methodology of YouGov. Running a daily opinion poll with a sufficent sample size must be extremely challenging.

    My day job involves numbers, statistics, projections and I also rely on opinion polls. Hence my own caution!

    So, it is worth waiting on another poll to corroborate this, as well as internal party polling (which was why Brown bottled it in 2007).

    Yet another wake-up call to the Tories though. Get a grip, keep it simple, and keep the pressure on Brown.

  2. You maybe right, but Cameron's speech was not a game changer. It was flat.

    On Monday we will know.

  3. There's another issue in terms of the media narrative.

    What happens next?

    - Will YouGov stay at 2%?
    - Or will YouGov show Labour overtaking the Tories?
    - Or will YouGov increase the Tory share to 3% or more?

    Continued 2% would be nerve shredding!

    A Labour lead may be game changing...new territory...depending on the other polls!

    YouGov increase of the Tory vote is good for them and bad for Labour....perhaps puts fizz in Cameron's speech.

  4. Looking at the poll results, the most interesting snippet is perhaps the attitude towards the economy...

    41% say spending cuts should start now
    41% say they should wait until after recovery

    This can be subdivided into Con majority for cuts now, Lab majority for cuts later.

    If we are in GDP growth, why not start cuts now? Does delayed cuts mean more borrowing or tax rises? What will moreborrowing do to the markets? We know what tax rises will do to the electorate!

    These are questions of policy, probably misdirected at either of the main parties at the moment!


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