Sunday, 28 February 2010

Bully Brown Cuts Lead to Two Points

At first glance the title is quite counter intuitive. After a week of supposedly damaging stories about the Prime Minister's behaviour Labour are within 2% of the Conservatives in the latest YouGov poll. Of course, this is only one poll and the 4% jump from Friday could be entirely due to sampling error. But alarm bells should be ringing for the Conservative leadership.

How reliable this poll is almost irrelevant from a strategy point of view as it's been quite clear all week that pushing 'Brown the Bully' simply isn't working. All week the polls have flat lined and it's not just because their source has been largely discredited in the wake of this 'scandal'. The Conservative's mistake is simply trying to define Gordon Brown. They are not the only guilty party. Labour themselves wheeled the Prime Minister in front of Piers Morgan a few weeks ago to 'open up' to the British public. The fact is Gordon Brown has been Prime Minister for almost 3 years, was Chancellor for 10 and has been in the public eye for almost two decades. I think it's fair to say most people have made their mind up about him; one way or another.

I assume the thinking behind the Conservative's attack were that this is so shocking it would change some people's perception of Brown after all these years. But if anything it's had the opposite effect to what the Tories exepected. Janet Street Porter excluded, most people realise the realities of politics. Mainly because they've seen much worse in their own lives and imagine running the country is probably more stressful than running a restaurant. So the only 'news' this story contains is that Gordon Brown has a bit of fight left in him. Many will respect that. It wouldn't be enough on its own but as the opposition are not exactly covering themselves in glory it certainly helps.

Cameron's biggest problem with all this may well be yet to come. In utterly miscalculating, the next Prime Minister (one poll isn't going to change my view on that) is doing a good job of turning a 50 plus seat majority into single figures. The former is no doubt less stressful than the latter. So imagine the headlines if Cameron, after getting off the phone to another Tory backbencher playing hardball on the latest flagship initiative, punches the back of a car seat…?!*


*This would never happen. Throwing a bike helmet is more like it!


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