Will this help boost or impede Labour’s recovery?

Will this help boost or impede Labour’s recovery?

Will ministers be thanked or get the blame?

Reproduced above are some of the front pages this morning – different papers all telling the same story. Could October 6th 2008 go down as reference point we will look back to in the years to come – or is there much worse on the way?

Who knows? We are in uncharted territory and for those who like forecasting elections and betting on political outcomes some of the certainties appear to be disappearing.

    The conventional thinking is that in UK political terms the crisis helps Labour – though that is based on responses to non-voting questions in opinion polls not on how people they say they will vote. These can be totally different things and it is easy to confuse them.

Thus in the latest ICM survey 44% of Conservative supporters say they think that Gordon Brown is “handling the crisis well” when a question with the preface “Putting aside your own party preference,…” was put. Yet on the main voting issue they are still Tories and Labour trailed by 12%.

This factor seems to have eluded some of our most distinguished political commentators – those who are better with words than they are with numbers.

But on the crisis generally how are different segments of the electorate going to react when they find their jobs threatened, their pension pots reduced, and their savings under threat? What happens when property becomes almost unsellable and negative equity becomes the norm?

    How is another group for instance, those who rely on the interest from their savings, going to respond if rates are reduced in response to the crisis? There are huge numbers in this category yet you hardly ever hear politicians advocating their cause.

This could be a dangerous oversight because the elderly have much higher voting turnout rates.

In the next day or so I hope to be publishing an analysis of recent polls which has some surprising conclusions.

Mike Smithson

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