Labour’s poll lead is a poisoned chalice….
We are ahead in the polls people say, so all must be well; however, our poll lead is something of a poisoned chalice because it is insulating us from the reality of our position. Indeed, this passage from a New Statesman article struck me as being particulalry true:
It hurts to be rejected, especially after a long relationship. Labour is still reeling from the pain of being jilted by the electorate last year. At first, as with any break-up, there was an element of denial. Look! We’re ahead in the polls. They want us back! It has taken a while for the dismal realisation that it is all over to set in.
It’s not even as if this lead is actually substantial. Look beneath the surface and cracks start to appear quite readily. Despite the fact that the public consistently oppose the cuts, this does not lead to a lack of trust for the Coalition on the economy. The most recent Populus poll found;
Populus also asked whether people trusted Miliband & Balls or Cameron, Osborne & Clegg to run the economy better. Cameron, Osborne and Clegg led Miliband & Balls by 41% to 23%, a significant shift from when Populus last asked the question in March when the lead was 44% to 33%.
Labour’s inability to tell people a few home truths about capitalism and its failings has pretty much disarmed them against the Coalition’s ‘Blame Labour’ narrative and in the above polling we see the natural result. However, since the economy is by far the most important issue it shows you how, if there were a poll tomorrow, Labour’s lead would mean close to nothing. Add in other factors and you probably have us running closer to a poll deficit than most would imagine.
The problem with holding this poll lead is that, as the article in the New Statesman points out, it makes us timid when we should be bold; like we are running an egg and spoon race not planning to return to government. If it were lost it might at least shake the mood of the Party enough to bring it out of its semi-torpor and make us face up to some hard facts.