Sunday, July 15, 2007

A mountain to climb

The Tories are not panicking, honest! It’s just one poll and just because it puts Gordon Brown's Labour Party on 40 percent, seven points ahead of the Conservatives, don't mean nuffink. The methodology is suspect, it's only a "Brown bounce" and you won't get any sense out of the polls until after the Party conferences in the autumn.

That said, it is one of a run of polls giving Brown the lead, and the Tory's troubles are far from confined to this. Both The Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday feature the Tory candidate for next Thursday's Ealing Southall by-election, who donated £4,800 to Labour only last month.

This is Tony Lit, a wealthy radio station boss parachuted in to fight the seat by Cameron, having only joined the Tory Party a week before he was selected as a candidate at the insistence of the Boy. It now appears that he paid for a table at a Labour fundraising dinner at which he was pictured next to a smiling Tony Blair days before his departure as prime minister.

There will be many explanations for the Tory demise but, interestingly, the two words that hardly appear anywhere are "European Union". On this issue at least, there is clear blue water between Cameron and Brown, the former demanding a referendum on the treaty-to-be and the latter refusing one.

If the EU was at all the issue that we would like it to be, this would surely have reflected in the polls and given the Boy a head start. As it is, this poll gives Labour its biggest lead over the Conservatives since the Boy became leader of the opposition.

Maybe the EU will become an electoral issue after the IGC summit and the signing ceremony but, for the moment, this poll demonstrates what a huge mountain we have to climb to put the issue high up on the political agenda. For the moment, though, Brown need not feel troubled by the Tories' demands for a referendum.

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