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What more evidence does Brown need?

September 29th, 2007

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    Two polls give Labour doubt digit leads

Back in May and June I was among a number of commentators who were saying that we would really have to wait until November before we would get a clear view of how the new leadership at Number 10 had changed the political environment. Well it is looking as though that November suggestion might be when the general election itself takes place.

The polls have moved so firmly and decisively in Labour’s favour that it’s become very hard to see how Brown can pass this opportunity by.

    On the one hand he doesn’t want to be remembered for a 127 day premiership if it all went wrong – on the other if he doesn’t go and eventually things get tighter he’ll be blamed for not taking the chance when Labour had double digit polling leads.

The most significant of today’s two polls is from Populus in the Times – the firm that at the start of the month had two surveys showing the margin at just one point. Today’s figures with changes on the last one are – CON 31%(-5): LAB 41%(+4): LD 17%(-1)

Populus is a conventional pollster that uses the telephone, has past vote weighting to ensure a politically representative sample and adjusts its figures in line with the certainty that respondents say they have about voting. Theoretically anybody in Britain with a land line at home can be asked to participate in the firm’s surveys.

Meanwhile the latest from the YouGov polling panel, which on Tuesday gave Labour an 11% lead, has produced a similar margin in the Telegraph this morning. Its figures with comparisons on the last survey are – CON 32%(-1): LAB 43%(-1): LD 15%(+2). The firm does not poll amongst the public at large but restricts its surveys to members of its “polling panel” on whom it has a mass of data including responses about what they did at the last election .

So where are we? Is it all now very certain that we are only weeks away from a general election? Will Brown want to wait until he’s seen what the Tories do at Blackpool?

I was very struck by this comment on last night’s thread by the Observer writer, Nick Cohen – “My colleagues think that if Brown backs off after marching his men to the top off the hill the commentariat will turn on him. The press will be full of attacks on his weakness and dithering and he’ll get a taste of what life was like for John Major. For what it’s worth my view is that Labour has allowed the speculation to run for so long they’ve trapped themselves. If Cameron has a good conference and the polls change, suddenly it will be Labour which doesn’t know what to do.”

The latest on the Betfair election date market is that 2007 is now the 0.9-1 favourite. I’ve been betting on the Spreadfair “Gordon Weeks” market and took a “sell” position last Saturday in the expectation of cashing in during the week as prices moved during Labour’s conference. I’ve got £42 a week on at an average of 74.5 weeks.

Mike Smithson






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