A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Why Labour can still win the next General Election

The answer is buried in the most recent Populus poll for the Times, and has been unearthed at www.politicalbetting.com by Nick Palmer MP.

Although the headline figures are Con 45%, Lab 25% and LD 20%, scroll to table 9 and you find that 45% either like the Labour government or would prefer it to a Tory one, whereas 42% would prefer a Tory one.

Incidentally the lowest level of satisfaction with Labour at the moment is shown in this poll as not amongst the richest or poorest voters, but amongst traditional swing voters - the lower middle class/skilled working class C1s and C2s - showing that a retreat to the ideological comfort zone would be drawing completely the wrong lessons from the current polls.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't see that as any great comfort to the many Labour MPs who are certain to lose their seats whenever the election is called.

Liking the idea of something is clearly not enough motivation to vote a certain way.

Modern politics is about the narrative and that is clearly heading in one direction. It may change - but with each passing week and the seemingly endless accumalation of evidence of drift - I find it hard to envisage enough change happening to prevent the inevitable.

10:32 pm, July 01, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole point about swing voters is that they don't much care about left and right - they care about general tone, and about who gives them the best for their families. These people aren't rich, and they're suffering with New Labour. A move to the left would be a comfort to them - they wouldn't be paying more tax, just receiving more services - what's not to like? Personally, I'd like to see price controls on a group of 10 or so essential items e.g. no more than 45p for a pint of milk, no more than 55p for a loaf of bread - that'd add a little security to our lives.

11:25 pm, July 01, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I think what the figures do show is that there is no real love for the Tories. But the problem is that is nothing new. The question is not whether people like them or not but whether they are credible. Plenty of people didn't actually like them much during the Thatcher era.

The low level of support for NL from swing voters is taking place as they follow exactly the sort of policies which you are so enthusiastic about, Luke. Why aren't they enthusing over the current regime?

It isn't a case of a comfort zone, but recognising that some mistakes have been made and need putting right.

12:47 am, July 02, 2008

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

The trouble is, Luke, that the people in the most ideological "zone" right now, and indeed for much of the past decade, are the tunnel-visioned New Labourites who see no reason to reflect, not reason to look at what's working and what isn't, and just keep ploughing on regardless into that brick wall. You lot are the dogmatists now.

1:18 am, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course we can win, we're probably over a year from an election, plenty of time to expose the policy-lite, PR-led Tories and to present Labour’s positive message. It's less than a year since we romped home (in byelection terms) at Ealing Southall...

As ever, it’ll be a clear choice between a Labour and Tory government at the general election. There’s no reliable way of voting for a hung parliament whatever dear old (joke) Clare Short might say.

But it needs activists on the ground doing the usual foot-slogging stuff and talking to real voters. There’s a lot of evidence to demonstrate how much more likely voters are to vote Labour if they’ve spoken to someone from the party within a couple of years of voting.

A slight danger is the ever-vocal, clever-clever, sit-at-home to moan and theorise mob might demoralise the active activists. But they won't demoralise me and I doubt if they’ll demoralise you!

10:57 am, July 02, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Trouble is, hughes, that this is head-in-the-sand stuff.

The main problem, frankly, is the natural shift of the electoral cycle. In some ways its not a bad thing as parties in ppwer for too long do get stale and tired. But the difficulty we seem to have in the UK is that for a while now, one party has been in an utterly dominant position and there is rarely a competitive election. We are heading the same way again.

I agree that the Tories are policy lite. But will that matter as much as we might think? This is what concerns me - I think it may be just a case of saying 'ok, well, they don't have a lot more to offer, but Cameron is charismatic, it would be a change and he's not as depressing as that bloody Gordon Brown' for many voters.

11:28 am, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do what we can. Not "head in the sand" but "feet on the street" with head through some lucky person's doorway!

11:40 am, July 02, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No Mike, the main problem is the economy. That's why the most fed up voters are the ones in the middle (C1/C2s) not cushioned by wealth or by benefits & social housing but hit really hard whenever mortgages, petrol and food get more expensive.

See this MORI polling for the detail:


11:43 am, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This part of the poll only suggests that there is still an anti tory majority in the country but the rest of the poll is quite honestly dreadful for the Labour Party. I know the regional breakdowns are based on very small samples but there is not one region where labour is ahead or even comes close to being ahead, third place behind the SNP & Tories in Scotland!

We have to face facts here, GB is massively unpopular however unfair that might be. Whilst the government seems to have performed well recently - with good, well thought out policy initiatives (I would argue far better than anything under Blair) this is overwhelmed by the complete disdain the government is held in by many in the media. To carry on as we are for 2 more years just invites disaster, we owe it to those we represent to do something about it.

For me there are two options, if GB stays then the party must unite (no more Frank Field ego trips) and pursue a recognisably Labour programme to ensure that as many of our natural supporters will back us as possible. Even if we loose there would be achievements (Harriet Harman's equality bill is an example)to celebrate and a platform for the future. Or if GB goes / is pushed then a genuine contest for the leadership swiftly followed by a General Election. Doing nothing really is not an option.

11:45 am, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After a quick peruse those figures don't seem to make sense - there seems to be contradiction.

The % in the 'would stil vote labour' camp are generally below 30% but the % in the 'would vote tory' camp are generally over 40% so not sure where the 50% blip omes from. This also contradicts table 1.

1:26 pm, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that 29% would rather stick with a labour government whereas 42% would prefer a tory government.

2:08 pm, July 02, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

interesting figures, how big is the cohort sample?

2:33 pm, July 02, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anonymous - 45% is the sum of the happy 16% and the "not happy but still prefer them to the other lot" 29%.

4:02 pm, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a Mentalist

8:31 pm, July 02, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

If you include the "not certain to votes" - as seen at Q2 in a recent ipsos MORI survey - then Labour have a 1% lead.

The question then, versus you own last point, is whether triangulation is putting these off and they could be won back with some clear Labourism, and/or whether your own counter-proposal of more new-Labourism is the answer.

9:03 pm, July 02, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Thnat really is bad news then, Luke, because there is very little that any individual government can do, labour or Tory, regarding the economy.

Indeed, I think, for that reason, the Tory honeymoon period after they win the next election will be remarkably short....

But I also think that people have just got bored and tired with the Government

10:27 pm, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

C1 and C2 are incredibly broad categories. They include lots of people who voted for us last time but will not do whatever we do until we're in opposition again. They also include large groups of people who we probably can win back, and who would be attracted by policies such as the ones in the post beneath this, which are clearly aimed more at core voters.

Luke's assertion that C1 and C2s are this homogeneous bloc that can only be won over by listening to Stephen Byers on inheritance tax is, frankly, a bit odd. Surely we can be more creative than that?

11:56 pm, July 02, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at the 'total' column in table 9 -

15% is satisfied with the staus quo
29% is dissatisfied but would prefer to stick with labour
42% is dissatisfied and would prefer a tory government
4% refused
11% don't know

9:32 am, July 03, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

I don't necessarily think this is the best way to make policy, but while we're talking about 'who are the C1s and C2s' an awful lot of them are public sector workers. So perhaps one way to win the next election would be to win public sector workers back to the party?

The problem is that Luke has a very narrow vision of a very broad category. C1s and C2s might include the old Mondeo Man New Labour median voter, but it also features a huge number of voters that have, for a great many years now, been part of Labour's core vote.

I don't suggest a 'core vote strategy' as a psephological expedience - I just happen to support having more definitively Labour policies. But in fact, these figures are simply more evidence (coupled with the existing evidence of the falling Labour vote in working-class areas identified in the local elections and Crewe) that a left-turn makes electoral sense as well as being the right thing to do.

3:51 pm, July 03, 2008


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