Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Conservative decade..

An important rule of polling: the first poll is happenstance, the second a coincidence, the third just noise. By the fourth, however, it may well be a trend. 
The latest Ashcroft poll has the Conservatives on 32% to Labour on 30%, while today's YouGov poll for the Sun has numbers of 35% to 33%, the lowest Labour share for that company for two years.
It could just be a conference bounce - and the usual caveats about the volatility of Ashcroft polls remain - and it's worth noting that the latest Populus poll has a robust Labour lead of 37% to 31%. But it's increased the jitters around the Labour leader's position and the bad feeling in that party after a flat conference. 
The problem is as much of personality as policy - even in the Populus poll, Ed Miliband's personal ratings are giving Labour MPs the vapours - but its the mansion tax that is attracting serious opposition. John Mills tellsthe Huffington Post that the tax will "cause all sorts of problems", while Margaret Hodge becomes the latest London MP to come out against the mansion tax in the Times. "Grandees turn on Miliband" is their splash.
How much trouble is Ed Miliband in? Internally, the mansion tax is more likely to do more long-lasting damage to his preferred candidate for the London mayoralty, Sadiq Khan, who,being one of Mr Miliband's closest allies is now the only runner for that office not to have declared his opposition to the measure. (Diane Abbot on the left, David Lammy from the centre and the right's Tessa Jowell have all come out against the move.) The rumours yesterday about Alan Johnson look be the mutterings of the usual discontents, and in any case, he's still not interested. There's no serious prospect of Ed Miliband not leading his party into the battle in May. But his chances of victory are diminishing. 
The Liberal Democrats are divided over whether they should acquiesce to the Conservatives' desire for an In-Out referendum, Sam Coates reports in the Times.  The "Alistair Carmichael position" - the Secretary of State for Scotland told a fringe yesterday that without a Conservative majority, there would not be a referendum at all - does not hold much weight among Liberal Democrats, although there is a bigger divide on how big a prize the negotiating team should extract for supporting a vote. A straight European swap - the Human Rights Act preserved in exchange for an In-Out referendum - looks the most likely outcome. It's part of the bigger argument about whether to go into battle with a coalition-ready manifesto or a bigger, more inspiring offer to the country. Tim Farron, one of the louder advocates for the latter approach, will address conference today and will call for a vast increase in the housebuilding programme. "They are not interested in the past, they are interested in the future," Mr Farron will say: "Their votes depend on what happens next, not what happened last. Looking back alone will not win us a single seat next May."
Michael Gove's quiet influence at the centre of government continues to grow, Elizabeth Rigby and Sarah Neville report in the FT. He has begun attending weekly meetings of Whitehall's permanent secretaries. The breach in all protocol has ruffled traditionalist feathers but it's a measure of the fact that, for all his demotion in the reshuffle, he remains one of the government's key men. 
Nick Clegg would rather wake up next to his wife, Miriam, than David Cameron or Ed Miliband, he told Sky News yesterday. The image was "disturbing", the DPM added. (Of Dave or Ed, I hasten to add.) Georgia Graham has the story.
"Winning has become the primary motive" in football since 1992, a motion before Conference today warns.
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Poll of polls 30th September to 7th October (Populus-YouGov), Labour lead of three points

Ashcroft: Conservatives 32% Labour 30% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 17%
Populus: Conservatives 31% Labour 37% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15%
YouGov: Conservatives 35% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 13%
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup  - Why the Archers is mightier than the Artillery 

Stephen Bush - The strange death of a Lib-Lab Coalition
Andrew Haldenby - The NHS must learn to be smarter
From elsewhere 

Rachel Sylvester - Why Clegg needs to be a street-fighting man (Times)
Janan Ganesh - Nick Clegg could be in office for a decade (FT)
0900 LONDON: Boris Johnson phone-in on LBC radio.
0930: Bank of England releases its credit conditions survey for the third quarter of 2014
1130 HEYWOOD & MIDDLETON: Nigel Farage visits Heywood &Middleton.
1220 GLASGOW: Norman Lamb speech to Liberal Democrat Conference.
1420 GLASGOW: Ed Davey speech to Liberal Democrat Conference.
1610 GLASGOW: Tim Farron speech to Liberal Democrat Conference