Below the headlines, the Conservatives are winning

John Rentoul

biscotte 300x272 Below the headlines, the Conservatives are winningGood news for the Conservatives and bad for Labour in the details of the YouGov poll for today’s Sunday Times.

The Labour lead of six points in voting intention is neither here nor there 22 months from a general election. I thought it significant that David Cameron and George Osborne strengthened their advantage over Ed Miliband and Ed Balls in being trusted to run the economy; and that there has been a seven-point drop over the past month in the numbers thinking Osborne is doing a bad job as Chancellor:

econ Below the headlines, the Conservatives are winning

What is worse for Balls is that he is out-scored 32 per cent to 18 per cent by Alistair Darling as best shadow chancellor (third question).

And what really ought to worry Labour is that 43 per cent say that the economy would be worse now had Labour won the 2010 election, against  32 per cent who say it would be better.

If Labour has not persuaded people by now that Osborne’s policy has failed – compared with what Labour would have done – then its economic credibility is a biscotte.

I suspect much of the Labour Party has lulled itself into a false sense of Swedenism* because some polls suggest that people think Osborne is an objectionable piece of work. Of course they do; he is a politician

econ2 Below the headlines, the Conservatives are winningand he is currently in government. What this poll does, however, is to compare his policies with those of the other lot, had they been in the despised position of being in government.

If Labour haven’t persuaded the voters that things would have been better under them by now (and I’m one of the 32 per cent in that last question, incidentally), they are unlikely to do so by the time of the election, now that the economy is picking up a little. And if Labour cannot do that, it cannot win.

My column for The Independent on Sunday is mainly about how serious Cameron is about curbing the “free movement of workers” throughout the EU, but this reflects the rigour of the Cameron-Osborne focus on the job prospects and living standards of the “hard-working people” on whom the election will turn.

Labour’s current lead in the headline opinion-poll figures is misleading: Cameron is set to win again.

*Swedenism, n: The attribution to the electorate of generous social-democratic qualities.

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  • Hill244

    John if you think we will choose between 2 shades of blue soon you’re mistaken. Plod have bought water cannon & bullets ready for the next time it kicks off. Britain = EU Haiti.

  • reformist lickspittle

    So the tories have had a bit of a boost – meh, no guarantee that it will last. Indeed, the strong likelihood is that it will not.

    What price an NHS crisis this coming winter, amongst other things?

  • greggf

    Cutting back on welfare is very popular to the electorate, which has probably been under-estimated by Labour.

    The only question is whether Cameron will follow through or fudge things at the first challenge. And one test will be curbing the “free movement of workers” throughout the EU!

  • Pacificweather

    It makes good dinner party discussion but not much else. Elections are decided by the don’t knows and the poll shows there are plenty of those.

  • julianzzz

    They haven’t cut it back yet, just made a load of noise about it, a few dead grannies will cure that.

  • greggf

    Er, yes julian, that’s what my second para is for…..

  • JohnJustice

    After a brief period in which everything has gone right for the Tories (including a Royal baby) a six point Labour lead together with an awful lot of “don’t knows” on the key questions, means that there’s still plenty for Labour to play for.

  • reformist lickspittle

    Yup, exactly.

    There is currently a bit of a “feel good” factor. It is unlikely to last.

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