Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas cheer in the polls for Dave

After a long period in which the polls have been in a 'holding pattern', they have delivered a Christmas present for Dave Cameron in terms of a jump in the ratings: Polls

As the experts at Nottingham University point out, this is undoubtedly related to the exercise of the European 'veto' and probably involves an erosion of UKIP support. However, they also doubt whether the boost will be an enduring one, given the low salience of the EU in British politics and the fact that UKIP voters have other concerns.

Nevertheless, it does once again raise the issue of why the Labour Party is not doing better given the overall economic and political situation. One reason is that the polling evidence suggests that the electorate have no confidence in their economic competence, a reasonable given view given the way in which they spent what would have been a substantial budget surplus after 2001.

The other factor is Ed Miliband who continues to fail to impress. There are situations in which he could made more off. For example, the 'We are the 99 per cent' claim of the Occupy movement does resonate, even though it is ultimately spurious given that it assumes that the 99 per cent have a homogeneous set of interests and values which is clearly not the case. Nevertheless, Miliband could have recognised that they had an emotional case which required some intellectual development.

What instead we get is a lot of dithering and sitting on the fence as he tries to steer a course, for example, between the public sector unions and those who work in the private sector. In the dispute over public sector pensions, the Government has had to make some concessions but has largely got what it wanted in terms of higher contributions, later retirement ages and smaller entitlements.

Labour loyalists seem determined to stick with Ed to the last, however.


Anonymous said...

It seems a bit early to write off Labour. The next elections are so long away, and whatever Labour's record on spending, the fact is Conservative austerity measures are failing by their own measures: not only is unemployment at a 17-year high, Britain's austerity is self-defeating. Osborne is not even going to achieve his deficit-reduction strategy. As Blanchard put it recently: "To the extent that governments feel they have to respond to markets, they may be induced to consolidate too fast, even from the narrow point of view of debt sustainability". And bear in mind the UK government's cuts will have their fullest effect NEXT year. I shudder to think of the social unrest we are going to see(just consider the level we have already seen this year)

This government has failed its citizens and whatever Labour's faults, we cannot ignore the damage being done our society by the free-market fundamentalists who drew exactly the wrong lesson from the financial crisis. Yet is the poorest in our society (such as my neighbours in Hackney) who are bearing the brunt of this government's policies.

Cameron can posture away but the economic hardship brought about by austerity is not going away. Our elites have let us down. Again.

Wyn Grant said...

I certainly wouldn't write them off. Indeed, only today they have announced a re-organisation of the leader's office and a six person executive board.

All your points have force, but unless Labour can offer a credible alternative strategy it is not going to make headway on the economic issue. I am not sure that there is that much difference between the two parties on the extent of the cuts, although there may be about timing. I doubt whether it is possible to spend or grow your way out of this crisis.

Anonymous said...

I think you are very right about Labour- they are simply unable to present any kind of alternative to the Tories at the moment that is either credible, or able to capture the public's imagination. I feel we are really being let down by our politics, as our leaders are failing to articulate a vision for what a better Britain would look like. This country has so much going for it and we owe it to our young people not to be mired in pessimism, but we don't have any statesman to provide the leadership this country desperately needs.