UK Election: Status Quo Holding

With three months to go, not much seems to be changing in the UK, according to the two most recent polls. First, The Observer:Eight or nine weeks from now, we will be in the thick of the election. MORI's latest findings show a six-point lead for Labour over the Tories - 38 per cent to 32 per cent - with the Liberal Democrats on 22 per cent, not remotely within striking distance of dislodging the Conservatives as the official Opposition.

A month ago, the Lib Dems were on 26 per cent, with some pundits hinting at a breakthrough that now looks highly unlikely.

Based on these figures - a 1.7 per cent swing from Labour to the Conservatives - Labour would lose between 25 and 30 seats, with the Tories gaining fewer than 10 and the Lib Dems picking up a handful That would give Labour a third landslide and a majority of between 120 and 130.

The Guardian shows much of the same:The January Guardian/ICM survey shows that Labour's poll position has slipped two points in the last month from 40% to 38%. Tony Blair's party retains a seven-point lead over the Conservatives who are unchanged on 31% - enough to deliver a Commons majority of 140 in a general election later this year. The Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 21% and other parties up two points to 9%.

Mr Blair's own poll rating as prime minster remains in negative territory at minus 12 points, with 38% happy with the job he is doing in Downing Street compared with 50% who are not.

The prime minister has consolidated the improvement in his personal ratings in the past few months. Between February and July last year his ratings slumped to between minus 20 and minus 24 points.

Mr Blair is actually in a better position now than Margaret Thatcher was in January 1987 as she also prepared to fight a third term general election. Then her personal rating stood at minus 26 points yet she still won a handsome third-term victory.

Labour and Tory leaders both seem disliked, but the Liberal Democrats still seem unable to move up. Considering this, I'd like to make my own prediction: very low turnout.

Tags: Foreign Elections (all tags)



UK politics have always confused me
There are two "Democratic" (liberal) parties and one "Republican" (conservative) one.  I think I've finally decided that the Liberal Democrats are the "real" liberals, and Labour is something akin to the DLC.  Is that basically correct?
by Geotpf 2005-02-07 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: UK politics have always confused me
Not really--a straight comparison is difficult to make. The Liberal Dems are actually engaged in an ongoing process to figure out who they are. I think Blair's policies are more like "traditional" Democrats from the 1930's-1960's (Keynes, Affluent Society, Thirty Great Years and interventionist, but without the hard line socialism of past labour leaders). Liberal Democrats seem very much to be the sort of modern progressives who I complain about in my labor posts. Arguing which side is more pro-business would actually be an interesting debate.
by Chris Bowers 2005-02-07 08:37AM | 0 recs
I guess so
What you are saying seems correct, but remember the Conserative party beliefs are very liberal in US standards probably well to the left of the current Democratic party here.
by THE MODERATE 2005-02-07 08:39AM | 0 recs
It's sad that Blair looks likely to win.  This lackey needs to be defeated, even at the price of a Conservative win.  Besides there's not a dime's worth of a difference between "New" Labour and the Conservatives.  Labour needs to be punished for keeping Blair as leader.  It's puzzling why the Liberal Democrats haven't improved their position.
by Paleo 2005-02-07 08:43AM | 0 recs
Only those in Blair's district are voting for Blair the rest are voting for their members.  The reason why Labour does not toss Blair, is simple they like winning, and they do not like losing.  Which is what they did plenty of in the pre Blair era.  I guess it is possible that the Tory party may have to adjust itself, but asking the ruling party to go back to the way it did when it lost is not going to happen.
by THE MODERATE 2005-02-07 08:52AM | 0 recs
The Conservatives dumped Thatcher after she won three elections.  And I wasn't suggesting going back to the Foote-led Labour party.  Only not having the equivalent of a DLC Democratic party.
by Paleo 2005-02-07 12:53PM | 0 recs
dumping thatcher
The Tories only dumped Thatcher when she turned into more of a liability than a strength with the poll tax issue.  Major quickly did a 180 on the issue, and with the Rupert Murdoch's help in the May 92 GE, managed to scrap together a Commons majority of 20.  Very soon on, the British electorate had a major case of buyers remorse with "Black Wednesday" in September 92 when the British were forced to go off of the currency exchange mechanism (I'm momentarily forgetting the abbreviation).  Ever since then, they've lost their reputation for being good stewards of the economy, and with it, their chance to win national elections.  Until Labour slips up in a big way, this current mould will likely not be broken.

Iraq looked for a while last year to possibly be such an issue, but Michael Howard has zig-zagged in the most opportunistic manner on this issue.  Kennedy is the only one who comes out clean on this issue, but I don't know many Britons (any?) who truly see him as a plausible PM.  

To be sure, the Lib Dems have picked up some Labour seats in bye-elections, and they will probably gain a larger share of the vote this time around in the GE which should yield them more seats, but probably still well under 100 (they have about 60 now).  But until more British voters start voting Tory again, all we will see is the voters from time to time kicking the Government but not kicking them out of office.

Depending on how he plays his cards, Gordon Brown can become PM in the next term (as Blair has already publicly announced his intention to retire as PM at the end of the next parliament, should Labour win a third term).  According to the Independent poll I saw in early January when I was in the UK (right in the middle of the rather public row between the two which dominated newspaper coverage between the tsunami and the Harry Nazi incident), were Brown leading Labour in the GE instead of Blair, Labour would get something like 50% instead of the 36-40% that they are polling under Blair.  Considering that Brown has raised social spending considerably over the past couple of years, this suggests that Thatcherism is what ills the Conservatives, and until they stop trying to sell British voters unadulturated Thatcherism, they won't win a GE.

by jsramek 2005-02-08 06:48AM | 0 recs


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