Friday, June 27, 2008

Brown: time to go?

The result of the Henley by-election is humiliating for Labour: they lost their deposit and finished in fifth place behind the BNP with only 3% of the vote. True, it is a conservative safe seat. Boris had 54% of the vote in 2005 (and the Tory candidate this time had 57%). But Labour had 15% in 2005. Turnout was lower than in 2005: 50% compared to 68%. On a lower turnout the Tories increased their number of votes from 19,796 to 24,892. It could hardly be worse.

This comes on top of the ICM poll in Wednesday's Guardian which gave the Conservatives a 20-point lead on 45% to Labour's 25%. Gordon Brown's personal approval ratings are abysmal.

The ICM poll showed only 13% think that Britain's economic problems are the result of global difficulties; 40% think the government wholly or mainly to blame. This may seem unreasonable - since Brown is, for example, hardly to blame for rising fuel and food prices - but (a) that's politics, (b) governments are never slow to claim the credit when economic prospects are good, and (c) the government - Brown - does bear some responsibility for the easy credit, the house price boom, and the lack of regulation of financial institutions over the past decade.

It seems to me Labour is, as they say, "up shit creek without a paddle". I can't see Brown turning this around. And I don't think a new Leader - probably Miliband - can wave a magic wand and everything will be fine-and-dandy.

Yet even so (Politaholic has finally concluded) it is probably worth giving Miliband a shot at it. Brown has had his chance, and blown it.


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