Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's only a poll

Opinion polls are generally taken with a pinch of salt, although they offer occasional entertainment. One such is the current Mori poll in The Observer which puts the Conservatives on 37 percent (down six), only six points ahead of Labour on 31 percent (up five). The Liberal Democrats are on 17 percent (down 2).

Commenting on the poll for the paper is Toby Helm, who used to be the Telegraph's Europe correspondent. He suggests that, on the basis of the figures, Britain could face a hung parliament, with the Tories 35 seats short of an overall majority.

In his analysis, however, Helm argues that Labour is benefiting from "optimism about the economy". Strangely, in quite a long piece, the EU is not mentioned, with absolutely no reference to Cameron's row-back on the referendum. The "elephant in the room" is alive and well.

There may, of course, be other more plausible reasons for this sudden dip in the polls – if it is real. Not a few commenters on Tory Boy Blog seem to think that the Tory line on the EU is at least partly responsible.

That is certainly the impression we get. Cameron's "breach of faith" over the referendum seems to be far more damaging than even we expected. And it is not so much “Europe" that is at issue – more the perception that the Boy is another of those politicians who can't keep his promises.

For all that, it's only a poll – the next one could be very different, or even the same. What matter is the real poll on the day, and that is not for six months yet. But, if you count straws in the wind, this one says that Cameron's quasi-conservatives are in trouble. The people aren't buying his message.