As widely reported elsewhere, the latest Ipsos MORI’s monthly poll came out at CON 43%(+6), LAB 26%(-5), LDEM 20%(+2). This is interesting because last month's iteration gave a Conservative lead of only 6, and because rumours were circulating that this latest poll cut the lead to 3. These proved to be nonsense, and appear to be the result of wishful thinking from those of the Labour persuasion. Rembering the run up to the 1997 election I have some sympathy with that. It is not nice to watch your party spiral down to a seemingly inevitable defeat and people in that situation will grasp at any straw.
Wishful thinking only goes so far though before it becomes delusion. For example, a phrase that is often put about is that David Cameron has yet to 'seal the deal' with voters. God knows what this is meant to mean, but my experience is that when people start talking in cliché they are trying to obscure meaning rather than anything else. Then there is the comparison with Labour under Tony Blair prior to 1997; the idea that the Conservatives should be running much higher poll leads for example. This is supposed to illustrate the supposed weakness of the Conservative position. However, that comparison in quite invalid for a very simple reason: the 1997 election was about continuity the next election is all about change. In 1997 the economy was doing well, and Labour's basic strategy was to not to screw things up by promising to adhere to Conservative budget projections for at least 2 years. This time everyone knows that whatever party is in post the 2010 election then radical change will follow. The vote will largely be on who can transform Britain for the better and in that regard it more resembles 1979, which was the last time Labour more or less bankrupted the country. So, you are not going to get a vote based on happy optimism. No one is going to be playing 'things can only get better' as a campaign theme. Instead there is a grim determination among the Conservative-inclined that Gordon Brown has got to go and fear from the Labour establishment that their gravy train is coming into its last stop. They are doing their best to translate that fear onto their core vote with things like Alan Johnson's naked appeal to bigotry. That is driving the polls.
On the last matter I predict that Mr. Johnson's words will come back to haunt him in the future. Having told anyone with money and a decent education that they are his enemy, he will find that he has shortened his list of potential friends in a way that is very unwise for a front-line politician. He also sounds like a fool.