Leading article: The electorate is fearful and losing faith in Mr Brown

'Independent' poll shows that voters have turned against the PM

Share
Related Topics

The Brown bounce is over. The poll in today's Independent demonstrates in stark terms the suggestions of other recent surveys that the Tories have regained a substantial lead over the Government. Equally significantly, the poll suggests that voters are losing confidence in the ability of Gordon Brown and the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, to handle the economic crisis.

Of course, polls are only a snapshot, revealing the state of public opinion over the period when the survey is conducted. But it is clear that while voters were impressed with Mr Brown's original response to the crisis, they have now turned against him. None of the Government's recent initiatives, from the pre-Budget report to last week's second rescue package for the banks, has done much to change people's minds about the Government's strategy. On the contrary, the continuing drip-drip of alarming economic news – the shrinking economy, growing public debt, soaring unemployment, rising house repossessions – only reinforces a sense of disillusion.

On one level, there is little the Prime Minister can do about this. As Chancellor for 10 years – and one who delighted in taking credit during the years of growth as the man who abolished "boom and bust" – he cannot hope to persuade voters that any other political party is to blame for Britain's plight. Indeed, his reputation looks more threadbare by the minute, his achievements diminishing as it becomes increasingly clear that he allowed the nation to drift into dangerous economic waters, while doing nothing to wean the country off its addiction to credit.

In this sense, the political dynamics in Britain are very different from those at work in the US. While Mr Brown and Barack Obama are to some extent following similar economic strategies, President Obama arrives in office as a new and fresh force in politics, untainted in the eyes of American voters by the Bush administration's economic mismanagement. Moreover, he has four years to sort out the economic mess before he must face the electorate again.

Mr Brown, by contrast, has dominated the British stage since 1997 and must call an election by summer next year at the latest. He looks increasingly like a victim of economic and political cycles that are out of synch. But while his predicament looks dismal, and he seems more and more at the mercy of events rather than the self-proclaimed saviour of the world, there is still some hope. The polls remain volatile, the voters are promiscuous and it is clear that David Cameron's Tories still do not have an entirely convincing response to the economic crisis.

Additionally, Mr Brown will be hoping that by the time of the election there will be some green shoots apparent as he surveys the economic landscape. This is not impossible, but his backbenchers are worried that a different course of events is far more likely. If this summer's European and local election results are as bad for Labour as many expect them to be, they will add to a sense of crisis, and Labour may be left fighting to prevent an electoral bloodbath.

For the Tories, meanwhile, the danger is precisely the reverse. There is a risk of complacency when their programme remains sketchy and half-baked. As yet, there is little sense that they have any real answers to the downturn, and little evidence that they have the tools in their locker to repair the devastated public finances that confront whoever wins the election. For now, however, they are the favourites to be left to clear up after the current economic maelstrom.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor