Friday, June 27, 2008

Can King Brown Hold Back The Tide?

Faced with the disastrous Henley by-election result - even going so low in the voters' estimation as to come fifth behind both the Greens and the BNP and losing their deposit with only 3% of the vote - and the continued onslaught of the wider opinion polls, you would think that Gordon Brown would do the honourable thing and step down as Prime Minister, call a general election and face the consequences. Well, er, no actually - he's getting on with the job. "By-elections come and by-elections go and blah, blah, blah....".

That is entirely understandable because he knows he still has a majority in the House of Commons that he can corral when the going gets tough. At least half of them are terrified of losing their seats if he did go the people. Up to a point, he can use this fear factor to keep them under control while he waits for the political tide to change.

However painful for the majority of people who really want to see the back of him it might be, he can bluff it out until the last moment possible. Or can he?

According to the latest Ipsos MORI poll Brown's first year in office has seen the fastest fall in personal ratings for a Prime Minister ever recorded. His ratings are currently as low as John Major's were after Black Wednesday, in the years before Labour's 1997 victory under Tony Blair:

  • Brown's first year also sees the deepest economic gloom Ipsos MORI has recorded since 1980: seven in ten people (69%) now believe that the general economic condition of the country will get worse over the next 12 months.
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of the public are now dissatisfied with the way the Government is running the country, and just one in five (21%) are satisfied.
  • Seven in ten (70%) are dissatisfied with the way Gordon Brown is doing his job as Prime Minister. Among Labour supporters, equal numbers are satisfied and dissatisfied with Mr Brown (45%)
  • Half the population (50%) is satisfied with the way David Cameron is doing his job as leader of the Conservative Party, and three in ten (30%) dissatisfied, while one in five (21%) don't know.
  • 82% of Conservative supporters are satisfied with Mr Cameron, and just 9% are dissatisfied (and 35% of Labour supporters are satisfied with Mr Cameron, compared to just 9% of Conservative supporters satisfied with Mr Brown)
  • Seven in ten people (69%) now believe that the general economic condition of the country will get worse over the next 12 months; this is the lowest score Ipsos MORI has recorded since March 1980.

By any stretch of the imagination Gordon Brown is not perceived to be a popular or succesful Prime Minister. However, there is no one in the higher reaches of the Labour Party who is prepared to take on the task of opposing him. This is not surprising as only a fool would do it now - they would rather wait for the inevitable massive drubbing in the next general election and come in as the saviour who will restrict David Cameron to one term as a Conservative Prime Minister. Who is the fool that thinks he or she can do that, I wonder?