Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tory lead cut as Labour faithful return to the fold.

I thought the Tory response to Labour's pre-budget report was insane. I said at the time that I thought George Osborne's response was simply appalling.

And now the latest opinion poll figures appear to indicate that Labour supporters are returning to the fold as the Tories start talking about cutting public services rather than spending our way out of recession as Barack Obama and almost every other western leader intends to do.

I thought Cameron, who has played a very clever game up until this point, misjudged this one horribly and - in a single day - undid all his hard work to remove the Tory image as the nasty party.

But it was Osborne's attempt to lay the blame for a worldwide recession - and one which we all know started with the subprime mortgage crisis in the US - solely at the door of Number 10 which made him seem not only not serious but borderline bonkers. It was quite one of the worst performances I have ever seen in the Commons.

And, if the recent figures are correct, the rest of the nation was also appalled.

Labour has narrowed the Conservative Party's poll lead to just one point as the "Brown bounce" continues, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent.

It suggests that the measures in last week's pre-Budget report (PBR), including a new 45p-in-the-pound top rate of tax on incomes over £150,000, have proved popular among Labour's core voters.

The survey, taken between Friday and Sunday, puts the Tories on 37 per cent (down two points on last month), Labour on 36 per cent (up five points), the Liberal Democrats on 17 per cent (up one point) and other parties on 10 per cent (down four points).

The figures would give Gordon Brown an overall majority of 10 if repeated at a general election. The gap between the two main parties is the narrowest in any poll since January, when an Ipsos MORI survey put Labour one point ahead.

Labour's support among the bottom social group DE has risen from 35 per cent to 51 per cent over the past month. In contrast, Tory support among the same group has dropped from 39 per cent to one in four. At the same time, Labour's backing among C2 skilled manual workers has grown from 23 per cent to 35 per cent.

Cameron has held a large lead over Labour without specifically telling any of us what he intended to do. It was enough that he offered an alternative to the government and didn't appear scary.

However, his response to the financial crisis was simply to do nothing and allow the market to sort itself out, even if that meant large cuts in public services.

It will be very interesting to see if he changes his tune now that there are figures indicating what way the public mood is pointing on this matter.

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