Comres verdict: Anyone but Gordon.
CON 38%(-2)LAB 23%(-1)LD 23%(+2)
Tomorrow will be painful for Gordon Brown at the make-or-break Labour conference, ahead of his make-or-break speech on Tuesday. A deluge of Sunday bad press, including rumours of his failing health (physical and mental) being stoked-up again by Andrew Marr, has been topped off by two bits of news that will turn the background speculation about how long he can cling on to the job he stole into outright rebellion. One is the latest Comres poll for the Independent, which Mike Smithson has analysed in some detail for us. The second is something from this morning that I think could turn out to be a massive own goal for Brown - he lied to Marr during that God-awful interview, according to Andrew Sparrow of the Graun.
First, the poll: it shows that not only have the Liberals caught up with Labour but that half the population, in theory, believes anyone would do a better job of leading Labour than Brown. But completely catastrophic poll ratings are one thing. Brown is used to them by now and they seem to have little effect on his delusional belief that he can somehow turn things around once he 'gets his message across'. But this lying about that stupid policy-on-the-hoof legislation for controlling bank bonuses - that's quite another matter. He said that Britain's proposals are the 'toughest in the world'. Patently unsustainable, says Robert Peston right away - the Dutch have strict caps on banker bonuses already, to name but one country. The Dutch rules are therefore tougher than anything Brown is (disingenuously) suggesting. This is just hit the hated bankers/Tories stuff (in the mind of the Left, the two are interchangable) not reasonable reform. Besides, those evil bankers were simply doing what Brown encouraged them to do for a decade, as I said earlier today. See? Dishonesty. It's the big theme with Brown.
You might well be thinking, "Brown told a big lie and he's been caught out (again). So what?" Well, it is actually pretty serious not just on its own terms - there was a time when ministers, even Prime Ministers, had to do the honourable thing and resign if they were caught lying about policy, for instance - but because it simply adds more grist to the mill (or further weight to Brown's millstone, perhaps) that Brown is not being straight with the people, that he is fundamentally a very dishonest man and that whenever he opens his mouth, a question pops straight into people's minds: what's he lying to me about this time? That is checkmate for any politician, but especially a so-called leader. It's time to bow out graciously and head off into the sunset of the American speech-making tour.
If anyone in Labour actually wants to know why they are nosediving in the polls and are about to become the third party in British politics, they need look no further than this morning's interview. People hate Brown because he keeps on lying to them. They never had the chance to choose him in the first place and they simply don't want him any more. Unfortunately for Labour, that means people in their eagerness to kick Brown hard and often will kick that party too. They are not learning though, it appears - probably because the parliamentary Labour party itself is populated by dishonourable, equally dishonest jellyfish, perfectly illustrated by the grim Scotland affair. (She still hasn't resigned, extraordinarily, despite firm evidence now emerging, thanks to Guido, that she's been lying, too).
So maybe Brown and Labour deserve each other, and the fate that awaits them. Judging by their God-awful, Tory-hating, drab, directionless, unattended conference so far, that's exactly what what the outcome of all their bluster and all their lies will eventually be.