This made good news yesterday (well for those who aren't fans of the Conservative Party), but it was the comments of Shane Greer (standing in for Iain Dale on his blog) that made me sit up and take notice.
Take a few comments here:
Conducted in the middle of the Northern Rock crisis the poll doesn’t simply show Brown ahead of Cameron but shows him trouncing Cameron; worse still it shows Cameron to be less popular than the bumbling Ming (and lets be honest that’s not easy). That said it’ll be great to see what the CCHQ spin is on it: “um, well, uh, it… it looks bad, but basically… um… flying on planes is immoral and people should be taxed more for… oh wait, that’s what got us here in the first place… um… aha, yes that’s it... we expected this dip… it’s completely normal and…”
Such is the lack of faith one could be forgiven, seeing that in isolation, as thinking that was from a Labour blog
However one thing certain to be at the top of the list is Labour finally hitting the 40% mark after sitting at 39% for a while; 40% being the symbolic mark Cameron has chased for the past two years. What makes it worse of course, as today’s Guardian points out, is that the Conservatives have fallen to 32% which places them in the biggest deficit in an ICM poll since Cameron took over in 2005.
And in terms of Parliamentry seats we know what that can mean, esp with a swing of another 2% in Labour's favour.
Interesting stuff, considering that the Tories believed that when Gordon Brown became leader, all Middle England would flock towards them. This shows how out of touch they have been in the past two years.
The reality is that Cameron is in this position because [cue anger from the win-at-any-cost-brigade in the comments] he appears to many in the Conservative base to have abandoned them. And that’s the point. In politics image is perception and perception is reality. Accordingly if the image you portray is one of tax hikes (regardless of whether they are in aid of a better environment – which is disputable), if your policy review mechanisms are able to propose things that anger you base, if you constantly chase floating voters to the exclusion of those who form the rock upon which your political church is built, guess what? Things don’t go so well.
This looks like the Right of the Conservative Party are flexing their muscles. Thing is, Labour managed very well to reform itself and then cling itself to the Centre ground. The Tories, having a distain for the ground occupied by leftwing Conservative/rightwing Labour politicians during the Thatcher era, have now found that that ground is now occupied by Labour and they are now stuck.
If Cameron wants to turn things around he faces an uphill struggle. Firstly he needs to prevent Brown from going to the polls for as long as possible (not easy when even Northern Rock appears to have strengthened Brown’s position – something I argued yesterday). Secondly he needs to reconnect with the base without losing the floating voters. The reality is that the environment is not the issue that’s going to achieve that; aside from anything else it rates rather low on the list of issues people would vote on (6th according to the ICM poll). But Cameron can win big on issues like crime and social disintegration.
The environment is an ongoing issue and one which esp concerns Middle England, so in the end, as the Polar icecaps continue to melt,voters may well find themselves supporting a political party which is trying to do something about it, compared to an opposition party which has many individual members trying to pretend that this is not a man-made problem!
As I’ve said already, I have yet to make up my mind about Cameron (which after two years in the job is incredible), but equally I haven’t turned against him. I’m just waiting to be convinced, and the base is the same. The base isn’t going to run into the arms of Ming, and they’re certainly not going to run into the arms of Brown. But they may simply stay home. Cameron just needs to give them a reason to open the front door and walk to the polling station – and the thing is he can.
If a Party leader cannot inspire hard loyalty from a certain proportion of his or her Party then there are problems, not just for the leader, but for the Party itself. As for voters not running into the arms of Brown, I suggest Shane takes another look at the opinion polls and has a good, strong cup of coffee afterwards. The show is not over until the Well-Proportioned lady sings (as Labour found out in 1970 and 1992), but for a Conservative mentioning this on a guestspot on one of the most prominent blogs in the country, it's a worrying sign for the Conservatives.