Saturday, 26 September 2009

Conferences Seem To Impress, No Matter How Bad They Are

Mike Smithson reports (very well, as always):
CON 39% (-2) LAB 26% (-1) LD 20%(+3)

YouGov poll gives the Lib Dems a boost at both other parties’ expense

A YouGov poll for tomorrow’s Telegraph will bring some welcome relief for the Lib Dems with a three point boost in their rating. Both the Conservatives and Labour are down, with the Conservatives dropping back below 40%. The changes are against the Sunday Times poll, conducted by YouGov and published on 11th September. All the changes are within the margin of error but only just in the case of the Lib Dems.

Despite the Lib Dem conference producing mixed messages from the platform and struggling to make much impact beyond a genuinely headline-grabbing ‘mansion tax’, it would appear that the public liked what they heard. It makes you wonder what a really successful conference might have achieved.

There look to be some interesting figures further down the questions on the various party leaders with the Telegraph claiming that none is as popular as his party. Without seeing how adjustments and don’t knows are counted, it’s difficult to draw too strong a conclusion but it’s not good news for Cameron if so (it’s not good news for any of them but Brown’s been personally unpopular and Clegg relatively anonymous for ages).

Of course, Labour and the Conservatives still have their own conferences to come and we’ll only get a true picture after they’ve all taken place. Even so, a small amount of humble pie on my part - it’s only one poll but if it’s representative, the Lib Dem’s do stand a good chance of gaining during the election campaign from the increased coverage.

I have to agree with these conclusions, sadly, but not the reasoning behind them, at least as it's presented in Mr Smithson's post.

I've got to say, mind you, once I had digested this poll and paused for a few moments to wonder and despair at the ease with which what seems to be a vast number of British people potentially are influenced by what is basically nonsense (the LibDim conference being the case in point), I realised that this actually signifies something I had known all along - because I feel it too: David Cameron must start leading not only the Conservative party, but the country as a whole. He has to set the agenda from here on in. The country has moved on from Brown and Labour - that's obvious. It's demanding better than Brown - but it's also demanding a choice.

So even though Cameron's still the Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, he has to demonstrate that he is what the country clearly wants (and I want) - a real leader. If people, as this poll shows, are that easily swayed by empty, badly stage-managed speeches from a minor, disunited opposition party in a state of management confusion and policy disarray, then he has the opportunity - and the duty - to reveal that what he will offer is genuinely better than that. He has to show the country what real political quality looks like. (Clue: it doesn't look like Nick Clegg.)

The Labour conference might produce some brief holiday from his own uselessness for Brown, but it will ultimately be an irrelevance. The only conference that matters this autumn is the Conservative conference; the only speech that matters this autumn is Cameron's.

That's what this poll really shows and woe-betide the Tories if they don't take heed. This is their moment genuinely to shine in front of a massive, receptive national audience that's almost ready to trust them again and is willing them to succeed.

No pressure, then.


  1. If that shower got a 3 point bounce from that debacle god knows what the Tories are going to get from theirs. And the trouble with Labour is their conference isn't going to be about Labour at all. It'll be about the Tories and Cameron and we all kow what Smithson's golden rule about cameron is. Plus they'll go nasty and past evidence has shown it'll blow up in their faces.

  2. I think Cameron and his Conservatives need to raise their game urgently, UB. And, like you seem to be implying, I think they will.

    I'm not sure anybody cares what Labour says or does now. They've been universally written off - and rightly so. About time!


Any thoughts?