Saturday 24 October 2020

Tories' Persistent Poll Lead: Two Theses

 There must be many a leftie tearing their hair at this:

It's rather bigger than some recent Tory poll leads, but by no means an outlier.

WTF?  Boris has screwed up the Covid / national economy challenge almost as badly as Trump (albeit with none of the FlatEarth numbskullery, so it's pure incompetence and bad judgement), putting the UK right up there with the worst performers.  It would be laughably easy to compile a list of colossal and very public mis-steps, ranging from the catastrophic, through the corrupt, to the comical.  Johnson hasn't put a foot right since the long-distant Greenwich speech.  How come polling like the above is even vaguely possible?

I think we may rule out any supposition that the populace is being swayed by some purposeful 'subliminal influence' media campaign of breathtaking subtlety and genius being mounted by Cummings who, original as he may be, is also plainly what my father's generation would have called a four-letter man.  Conversely, the Labour Party has not advocated a policy of Covid house arrest for obese BAME diabetes sufferers, nor otherwise lately perpetrated anything universally repugnant.  So - WTF?

I offer two broad theses and, being fairly puzzled meself, invite the C@W faithful to pitch in with others.

1.  Natural Loyalty In Time Of War

This one barely needs elaboration.  You stick together when the chips are down and, as in 1945, if you have reservations about the mob you've thereby lent support to, you can always heave them out.  When Starmer wants to sleep at night he'll be comforting himself with this one: let's face it, the evidence is, it's all he's got.  So pure is his strategy, he won't even risk tapping the ball occasionally into any of the gaping open goals Boris specialises in.  Hey - this is Strong Human Instinct we're talking about: let's not mess with that.  (Pipe down at the back there, Burnham.)

2.  The Labour Brand Is Utterly Trashed

All through the Blair years in power, long after the Bambi-fresh appeal of Blair had evaporated, the more innocent of my Tory friends were continually perplexed.  Whatever outrages the Blair/Brown regime came up with, and however well successive Hagues / Duncan Smiths / Howards / Camerons spoke to wrongness of what was being done, Blair sailed on regardless to electoral victory.  And I used to say to them:  that's a measure of how much people truly despise the memory of the Major and the later Thatcher years.  

So here's the polar-opposite Thesis #2.  In the 30 months following GE 2017, Corbyn so trashed not only his own reputation but the entire Labour brand, that the electorate will spurn the People's Party for a decade.

Yes; judging by what happened 1997-2015 (or indeed 1951-1964) it could be argued that the wasteland wilderness period could even be longer.  I suspect some of the more reflective lefties fear as much.

 We must all have been pondering on this one: what do we think?



BlokeInBrum said...

Lions led by donkeys.
I think most people are inured now to the incompetency of their political leaders. It's a case of looking at the headlines to find out what stupidity is being promulgated by our 'betters', then putting our heads down and getting on with things. Nobody believes that any politician of any flavour has our best interests at heart. It all comes down to who will bugger up things the least, and on that metric, it's hard to choose.

L fairfax said...

Personally considering what both parties have done since 1997 I hope that they both disappear and are replaced by better parties.

E-K said...

The true effects of the pandemic response are yet to manifest themselves.

Let's look at the polls when they do.

The broadcast media are only reporting one side of this story, rather like the Hunter Biden/ Mayor Guiliani bias towards that which damages Trump and supports Biden. Dissenting arguments against lockdown have been oppressed and hidden from view.

The media is corrupt and so Boris is looking better than he should.

I have heard absolutely nothing about the Great Barrington Declaration on the BBC. So your average Tory voter thinks Boris didn't have a choice - oh, but he did !

BlokeInBrum said...

We do need to have a conversation about media bias and educational bias in this country. That a handful of media companies can shape the media landscape (BBC, Facebook, Twitter and Google) is beyond doubt. At the moment it is tolerable in that we still have online forums in which to discuss politics and the like rather freely. But how long will that last? We already have seen how the wrong type of 'free speech' can result in prosecution or curtailed employment prospects, as well as the disappearing of certain voices and viewpoints from common discussion.
You only have to look at the recent events in America with Hunter Bidens laptop being memory holed by big media because it goes against their political leanings. How much is the political discourse in this country manipulated and twisted to favour certain groups and political viewpoints?

BlokeInBrum said...

One further comment a bit more on topic . Boris is being tolerated for two and only two reasons. One is that Labour has shot their credibility. Everyone knows that there are two factions in Labour, fighting like ferrets in a sack, neither of which is tolerable by the public at large. They even managed to put off their working class supporters in the North who might have finally figured out that Labour doesn't give a sh*t about them.
Secondly, Brexit.
It's finally coming down to brass tacks time. One of the defining events in British History is looming and Boris has to show that he's not all mouth and no trousers. People like me are holding on and hoping that he doesn't bugger things up. On recent form that's not looking like a good bet. Good job that it's Gove doing the heavy lifting then...

Don Cox said...

I think it's much too soon to judge how well or badly different countries have coped with this pandemic, and what lessons can be learned for the next one, which will probably have a much higher death rate.

Meanwhile, what preparations do we have for a big solar flare ?

The almost total absence from government of people with knowledge and experience in any scientific field is obviously a big problem. Where are the immunologists on the back benches ? The Chinese are much stronger in this respect. On the other hand, we need people who understand human nature and history, and here the Chinese fail.

A government of technocrats doesn't work, but nor does one with no technocrats.

Don Cox

DJK said...

Blair/Brown relied heavily on support in Scotland. That has all gone to the SNP.

Elby the Beserk said...

Not entirely surprising all the same, given that the Starmer effect is clearly visible (man's doing a magnificent job) - he either says nothing, or contradicts something he said earlier. A surefire vote winner.

God help us. Almost ALL our elected representatives a truly low rent.

As for Great Barrington, EK. It didn't happen. The BBC are quite clear about that.

tolkein said...

3 points
1. The Government has actually done OK. I've just finished Into Battle: Britain at War 1937-1941. I wouldn't see the author, Daniel Todman, as pro-Churchill at all. The performance of the British State then at was was pretty similar to now. Initial pessimism, preparing for huge worst cases, bungling at start, but pretty quickly getting organised. Now, no stories of no PPE, plenty of testing, standby hospitals ready, vaccine and really quick results test on the near horizon, Treasury (at huge future cost!) stepped in really quite quickly. Our deaths/cases are not out of line with France, New York, New Jersey, maybe better.
2. What, plausibly, would Labour have done different, better?
3. I think that Labour still is in denial. I got my voting papers for NEC and too many candidates had no idea of why Labour lost and what they had to do. Until they realise, it's hard to see a Labour Government. I think Starmer is competent, but he's not inspiring.

Anonymous said...

It says something that people in Wales still believe in Labour. I last voted Tory in 2015 to get the European referendum. I have not voted for them since. The Welsh are now locked down in a socialist bubble paid for by the English tax payer, the same is true of Scotland. It is time that London put down clear markers on what will be paid for, then if devolved administrations go further they will have to find the money themselves.

I think Boris will be gone after Brexit, this PM lark is too much like hard work. I suspect Cummings is not nearly as clever as people think, his genius was to be on the right side of the Brexit debate before people realised the majority wanted to leave. I suspect his much vaunted campaign actually persuaded very few people.


dearieme said...

I do wonder at the huge number of people who seem to believe that Covid numbers are a reflection solely of government competence.

Nobody knows; nobody can know yet.

Perhaps nobody will ever know - apart from numbskull stuff such as discharging infectious people into care homes, as practised in much of the world, even Sweden. Though the world class wooden top here must be Governor Cuomo of New York state.

I don't think Boris has done at all well: his surrendering to the hysteria of the charlatan Ferguson was his biggest mistake. I don't think there's much chance that a Labour PM would have done any better. I wonder whether a conservative PM might have.

BlokeInBrum said...

Cummings is clearly very bright, as is Boris. But raw intelligence is not everything. Plenty of highly intelligent people have done spectacularly stupid things. Perhaps its because smart people excel in certain areas it gives them the belief that they are qualified to pontificate sagely in all things.
Boris is done for no matter what. Should he succeed with Brexit and get us out on tolerable terms, he will want to cut and run on the crest of a wave. He is not a details man, and as anon said, being PM is probably harder than he imagined.
Should Brexit not go well, the tolerance that people like me have towards him will evaporate like morning dew. With the fallout from his piss poor performance regarding Covid yet to hit, he is living on borrowed time. Who are his supporters both within and without the party?

AndrewZ said...

The "natural loyalty" argument only applies to people who already have strong party loyalties, and the Conservative lead in the polls implies solid support from floating voters too. So I think it's mainly that the Labour brand is trashed.

However, Starmer could overcome that by very strongly advocating some new vision of his own, if he actually has one. But his strategy at the moment appears to be to avoid committing himself to anything while he waits for the government to make itself hopelessly unpopular by its mistakes. It may look like a low-risk strategy but it actually means that the party will remain toxic to many people until it actively proves that it's changed. Starmer needs a "Clause 4" moment but he's settled for masterly inactivity.

Don Cox said...

It's worth reading up on the Plague of Athens, which killed Boris's hero Pericles. At least Boris survived this one, thanks to its low mortality rate.

Don Cox

decnine said...

@ tolkien

Yes, there appears to be lots of testing. And the numbers being reported are about as credible as saying that the RAF shot down the entire Luftwaffe, twice, before Battle of Britain Day.

Nick Drew said...

Don - yes indeed, the whole of Thucydides is worth reading every now and then

what Athens went through - and put itself through - during the Pelopennisian War, was astonishing ... (We've alluded to this before -

... plague, civil war, the catastrophic attack on Syracuse etc etc

yet it was still fighting, and occasionally putting the wind up, the Spartans for many more years

the whole period 1936-1942 (to the fall of Singapore) must have seemed rather the same, which is to Tolkien's point

As Adam Smith said: there's a great deal of ruin in a nation

Lord T said...

If any of the main parties were any good they would be leading by a mile. It's just that they are all pathetic. someone has to be top even if only 100 people in the whole country vote.

Boris the buffoon was only voted in for Brexit. He is making a meal of that but it does appear to be going. Once that is done, depending on how it goes, will give us the winner of the next election. Fingers cross Boris doesn't handle it as well as he is handling the Covid farce.

Nessimmersion said...

If Mr Drew is going to pontificate about screwing up as badly as Trump , the least he could do is learn about the division of power in a republic like the US.
Trump is very limited in what he can do, almost all responsibility lies with each states governor.
Trump did stop flights from China for which the Dems stated screaming waaaacist.
Interestingly by far the worst performing state is New York, followed closely by other Democrat led ones.
The best performing US states are the limited lockdown, no face mask bollocks ones, mostly Republican.

E-K said...

We're talking Red team Blue team shite here.

The fact is that the Blue team ARE the Red team.

Socialism is the only way now, I'm afriad.

They've won.

Anonymous said...

Yep. What Nessimmersion said. Trump has no control over the states' Covid policies.

What's more, if Biden were in power, I suspect the CV death rate would be no better, no worse. Even if we ignore the difference in the measure of 'coronavirus deaths' between countries, it's still impossible to conclude from such figures whether a leader is doing well or badly. There are countless factors at play. But the media will always manipulate statistics in ways that would embarrass a twelve-year old -- all with the aim of getting Trump out of office.

By the way, I live in HM Colonies (in a swing state), and keep bumping into quiet Trump supporters. I really hope he wins, though I can't vote. The Republican candidate for governor, who has a reasonable chance of winning, is campaigning on a ticket of immediately ending all Covid-related restrictions. It's a different world from Boris's People's Republic.


Anonymous said...

Labour aren't doing better in the polls because they currently offer nothing much different.

Even when Starmer has disagreed with policy, he's frequently whipped to let it through, so why would there be a stampede to vote for someone who looks like they'd have made the same mistakes?

Post-covid will be interesting, Starmer knows the Red Wall could be recaptured if he's canny, Boris knows this too. The polls in two years time will be the ones to watch, if they're similar to now, Labour are in trouble.

Realistically, I suspect knives are being sharpened, and late 2021, early 2022, Boris will be defenestrated and political calculations will be made that Labour can have the Red Wall back. Next election delivers a smaller Tory majority, which will be a very Majoresque affair, and the election after that - with Labour cleansed of all the Momentum nutters - will also be a very Majoresque, circa 1997, affair.

The Tories need to tread carefully, Scotland is likely to be out of the union before long, and that'll trigger a change in the political landscape. Labour are desperate to get their claws back into Scotland in order to win a majority, take that out of reach and they'll recalculate, throwing resources to take seats across England instead.

Thud said...

EK, we really need to meet up for a drink some day...I'll cheer you up or depress you with my mindless optimism..ha!

E-K said...


I'd love that to be honest but I make a rule about not meeting heroes...

I'm bound to disappoint you !


Thud said...

EK....funny man! you are buying in that case....oh, and we need scrobs too.

hovis said...

Elby@11.41pm - you do know there is OFCOM "guidance" out there to ensure that this remains the case. The media are little more than stenographers.

hovis said...

am not pm .. but you worked that out didnt you :-)

andrew said...

The labour brand is not just trashed, it does not exist.
What are they for? "fairness" "inclusivity" "beiing nice to dogs"...
...So is the C of E vicar down the road and I imagine his congregation and the lab voting base will converge over time (given recent events the congregation seems to be growing just a bit).

They have no presence in scotland, damaged in the north and in metropolitan areas are holed below the line as the precariat are moved out of high cost areas and follow jobs out of london.

Equally the cons used to be pro business and now are clearly not that.

I see starmer at the beginning of a long project to define what labour is for.
There is a big pro business ground that has beed left untended. All those self employed or contractors or uber drivers etc need representing. They need a way to support small struggling businesses without pandering to fat cat bosses.

rwendland said...

The latest Opinium poll published today comes with a gazillion views/situation -> political-support mappings at ge2017, ge2017 and now. Very interesting, far too many to take them all in, but some shine bright enough to see quickly.

Looks to me Brexit Leavers are still holding true to the Tories in large numbers, despite any muddle and confusion on covid/economy. I wonder if this is a large part of the Tory vote holding up despite Boris screw-ups:

View: Con%/Lab%/LD%

Leaver now: 62/21/2
Leaver ge2019: 69/18/2
Leaver ge2017: 52/23/4
Remainer now: 18/55/10
Remainer ge2019: 23/45/21
Remainer ge2017: 26/45/18

Also half of LD remainers switching to Labour is bad news for Tories. Tories need to big-up LibDems as much as they can - love that Ed Davey now!

Car ownership is another interesting one, but with only "Car owning professionals" preferring the Tories - the others prefer Labour. Is this bad news if millennials remain non-car owning people as they get families, and AI chips away at professional work? Though they only divide into two categories: "professionals" and "working class", so where exactly the middle ground of admin staff etc go here in uncertain. Too many numbers to reproduce.

And of course Cities+Towns go Labour, Rural (suburbs?) goes Tory. How this will go if Brexit nukes the farmers must be a worry for Tory strategists.

And "Struggling" financial situation, not unsurprisingly, goes very strongly Labour (so does "Coping" to a lesser degree) - and this looks likely to be an increasing group, all those covid UC claimants etc:

Financial situation:

Struggling: 12/62/3
Coping: 33/42/6
Comfortable: 46/36/6

The spreadsheet is at:

E-K said...

Thud - Indeed. I'd be excited to meet Scrobs too !!!

Nick Drew said...

nice to see more satisfied customers of the C@W Introduction Agency

Nick Drew said...

you've done us a service there, Mr W