A bit of a splash earlier from the story arising from a BBC Daily Politics commissioned ComRes poll which showed the Labour team of Brown/Darling retaking the lead over the Cameron/Osbourne combo in terms of who is trusted most to manage the economy.
This result should hardly come as a surprise, given the combination of a Labour conference bounce, some reasonably competent economic pronouncements and policies from the government over the past few weeks and the total radio silence from Osborne as the global economy crashes and burns. I guess when your entire economic worldview is being destroyed before your eyes, silence must seem like the best option – after all, I doubt anyone told Mr Osborne as he learnt his political trade at Douglas Hogg’s knee, that the day would come when the only stimulus that would pull the markets upwards would be massive state interventions in the financial and banking sectors.
But, for me, the really interesting points lie in the full breakdown of the Daily Politics poll results, available here. The regional breakdowns on page 1 show that the Tory team remains ahead of Labour on economic competence in the South East and in Wales & South West (something tells me that this latter is really not a very clever regional combination for these purposes). But the stonking 58%-18% spread for the two main parties in Scotland does suggest that the fundamentals for a Labour revival north of the border do exist, given the right circumstances (note that only 2% refused the question in Scotland, lower than elsewhere, so there don’t appear to be huge numbers of people demanding to be allowed to answer Salmond-Swinney).
But my favourite bit comes on page 2, which breaks down responses by party identification. Now, as you’d expect, Labour identifiers prefer Brown-Darling by 73%-9% and Conservative identifiers plump for Cameron-Osborne by 70%-13%. Now, what hasn’t been trumpeted so much about this poll is that it also gives the option of the Lib Dem top team of Clegg-Cable. Overall, they managed a derisory 5%, but surely they must do better amongst Liberal Democrat supporters? Well yes, they do, achieving a 30% rating…compared to 32% for Brown-Darling. Oh dear. When we add in the 19% of Lib Dem identifiers who prefer Cameron-Osborne, 51% of Lib Dem identifiers are happy to say that they trust one of the other party’s teams to manage the economic downturn more than their own.
Let’s just hope for the Lib Dems’ sake that it really isn’t “the economy, stupid”. Because if they can’t even convince their own committed supporters of their economic competence, what hope have they got with a wider electorate?
The final point worth noting from this poll is that Labour apparently remains ahead when people are asked the ‘Generally, do you think of yourself as…’ question, despite the deep gloom of recent voting intention polls. On this identification question, the Lab/Con/Lib Dem split is 30%/27%/9%. Labour identification is ahead in all sub-65 age groups, and in the North England, Wales & South West and Scotland regions – in this latter, the split is Labour 38%, SNP 28%, Tory 8% and Lib Dem 7%. Of course, none of this means anything if Labour is unable to entice its identifiers to the ballot box, or to prevent them from voting for another party when they get there, but it does suggest that there may be some truth in suggestions that Conservative support is ‘soft’. This poll, whilst being conducted by an organisation (ComRes) whose record I am, at best, sceptical about, does suggest that there remains a battle to be fought before the next general election.
OK, that’s enough opptimism. Back to typical left wing doom and gloom next week, I promise.