I heard Peter Kellner of YouGov on Radio 4’s World This Weekend earlier and he contended that today’s Tory YouGov poll lead of 6% was quite modest given that we were in the middle of a parliament. I happen to agree that the Conservative advantage (9% in the ConservativeHome Poll of Polls) is a little modest but only because of the nature of Labour’s difficulties – not because of the stage of the parliament. The days of governments making unpopular decisions at the start of parliaments before rolling out the goodies closer to elections are largely gone. Labour works the media on a daily basis and Brown has been bribing voters with taxpayers’ money and Tony Blair has been trumpeting tough-on-crime measures ever since they were elected and re-elected. Voters have probably never been more suspicious of politicians and big swings are unlikely to greet any close-to-election announcements. The Conservative Party’s opinion poll improvement has been more modest than might have been expected ten or twenty years ago but it is unlikely to go down quickly either. Voters, who now consume little political media, take longer to reassess political parties and movements are now going to be more gradual. I expect Gordon Brown’s installation as Labour leader to improve Labour’s position (at least for a little while during a honeymoon period of media limelight) but it will be a few percentage points of gain – certainly not much more than 5% unless he has something very dramatic up his sleeve.
I also believe that Mr Kellner was wrong to imply that the 5%, 6% and 7% that YouGov records for UKIP and BNP is sourced from the disaffected right of the Conservative Party. My guess is that much of the BNP vote, in particular, comes straight from the Labour-voting heartlands.