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Shackled to a corpse?

Posted by Richard Sunday, August 12, 2007 ,

Gordon Brown has pushed Labour into a 10-point lead, the biggest since he took over as prime minister. This is according to a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times today.

The lead represents Labour's biggest with YouGov since November 2002, before the start of the Iraq war, with Labour on 42 percent, up two points on a month ago, with the Conservatives down one at 32 percent. More details here

Meanwhile, The Guardian and others are running a PA story headlined, "Slumping Cameron joins EU vote call". The paper notes that the party leader has used an article for the News of the World to accuse Gordon Brown of breaking an election promise to secure public support.

This is the Boy's first intervention in the referendum debate since last month, at prime minister’s questions, and his emergence into the arena has been linked with his declining status in the polls. The presumption is that he is seeking to hitch his own star to the popularity of the referendum, in the hope of reviving his fortunes.

Certainly, we have seen Tory attempts (largely successful, so far) to take possession of the campaign for a referendum. In so doing, they are aided and abetted by some of the right-wing press which is promoting the Tory campaign – and that of its unofficial advisory team Open Europe - to the exclusion of others.

However, while being associated with the referendum might help improve Tory fortunes, if Cameron continues to do poorly in the polls, the reverse could happen. An increasingly unpopular leader of the opposition might drag down the campaign – the equivalent of a runner being shackled to a corpse - and reduce the likelihood of Brown conceding a referendum.

As an insurance against Cameron causing a meltdown in the campaign, Eurosceptic groups need to challenge his Party's attempts to take it over, making it clear that the issue is too important simply to become a Tory plaything.

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