Cameron now as unpopular as Brown was as PM


8:35 am - February 15th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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The latest Ipsos Mori political monitor shows something extraordinary (and unsurprising) – Cameron is now as unpopular across the country as Gordon Brown was after the same amount of time.

Given that Cameron is more popular than the Conservative party, this must mean the party brand is in absolute dire straits.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


When is the next election again?

Whilst the statistics are bad for Cameron your analysis isn’t very good.

3 of the other 4 prime ministers (apart from Brown); went on to be re-elected.

Major got in with a huge electoral lead over the unappealing Neil Kinnock (whose popularity is rather reminiscent of Miliband).

So let’s not get our hopes up shall we? The only way to guarantee (they can still win but it’s not a sure thing) an electoral win for Labour in the next election is to expel Blair from the party and demand he is put on trial for War Crimes (because everyone who has hated Blair would rejoin the party and those who are still in the party overall hate Blair too); or for the Tories to actually anger the nation so badly there are riots like the Poll Tax riot.

To think these numbers mean anything other than mid-term upset is not really knowing how political statistics tend to trend.

Believe me I wish it did mean that Cameron was gone; however now I’m worried we are going to have him for another 5 years just like Blair and his progenitors Thatcher and Major.

When is the next election again?

May 7, 2015.

3 of the other 4 prime ministers (apart from Brown); went on to be re-elected.

2 of the 3, I think you mean. And Thatcher benefited massively in the period just after the one shown here from the combination of the Falklands War (which boosted her popularity) and the SDP splitting the left-leaning vote (which allowed the Tories to win a landslide of seats on a lower share of the vote than in 1979).

“the unappealing Neil Kinnock (whose popularity is rather reminiscent of Miliband).”

Cite? Also, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the data for Major will understate his popularity at the time, given the “shy Tories” bias that meant the pollsters did a terrible job in 1992.

The only way to guarantee (they can still win but it’s not a sure thing) an electoral win for Labour in the next election is to expel Blair from the party and demand he is put on trial for War Crimes

No, that’d be the absolute worst possible thing Labour could do, since it’d lead to the advent of a new SDP as New Labour-ists resigned in droves.

Pleased to see Cameron looking rather less popular.

But Labour still need to establish more than a personality contest for the next election (which could be any day, btw – the fixed term parliament nonsense is just a stunt. It may be stuck to but legally it would take nothing to call an election before 2015 still).

The first indications of Labour doing so came through yesterday. Talk of building growth from the people instead of growth from the elite will go down well, and if policies reflect it, could actually be really good for the country. Pretending that people who inherit squillions are wealth-creators and the rest of us are not is a lie that holds the country back.

5. Krissie Pearse

re: Comment #2 (Martin)

The difference between now and the time of either Thatcher or Major is that we hadn’t, at those times, seen the logical conclusion of neoliberalism and paid the price for it.

The latest Ipsos Mori political monitor shows something extraordinary (and unsurprising)

I’m not sure that something can really be extraordinary and unsurprising can it? I’d love to see this chart plotted against UK economic success/failure. Seems that there might be a pretty straight correlation.

Of course, it’s absolutely true that without all the bothersome red tape and regulations about what goes into processed foods, we would know what has been going into horseburgers so we wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

What with frozen horseburgers and the financial crisis, the usual cheerleaders for deregulation and free market capitalism have gone a bit quiet lately. I wonder how long it will take for them to get back into form.

Tim J

Ironically, though I get that both your points somewhat intuitive, in this instance they are almost certainly wrong.

on the rather more nit-picking note, something extraordinary need not be surprising. Gareth Bale can score an extraordinary free-kick for Spurs or Wales without surprising the world, because it is known he has an extraordinary left foot.

But that’s all a bit besides the point. Sorry.

More importantly – there seems little correlation with economic performance. Cameron has presided over stagnation but his performance is as bad as Brown’s who presided over a massive economic collapse. Likewise Major presided over a collapse, while Thatcher ended the period in question with growth restored for about a year.

As such, do we see Brown and Major massively under-scoring Thatcher and Cameron? Well no – indeed Cameron started much higher than thatcher or brown started – but has fallen faster – despite economic performance under him is better than under Brown but worse than under Thatcher.

Of course Blair stands apart – having never presided over recession thank to the UK being the only G7 country to avoid recession following the dotcom bubble burst – and also being a charismatic consensus builder quite like no other.

Bob

It interesting that Labour’s “growth from below” messaging may well play as part of a wider “on peoples side” outlook that would undoubtedly seek to regulate properly.

And right now, it is hard to know who would be opposed. Would Tesco really oppose regulations that reassure their customers that they can be trusted in future? It would surely help to rebuild their reputation right now to come out in favour of more testing and more government regulation of the supply chain.

Bob B,
I can’t say I’m an expert on the horseburger debacle. Who’s process was at fault, the food companies’ or the regulators’?

I thought there had to be strict checks on the origin of meat to avoid selling meat contaminated with BSE, Foot & Mouth, TB, etc. So what actually went wrong?

Printing “May Contain Nuts” on everything may be compliant, but it raises more questions than it answers in my view. We should be more worried about the quality of regulation than the quantity.

Anyway, let’s wait and see who is punished more severely: Findus, or Mid-Staffs hospital.

@ 3:

“3 of the other 4 prime ministers (apart from Brown); went on to be re-elected.

2 of the 3, I think you mean.”

Actually 2 of 4.

Brown and Major both lost. Thatcher and Blair both won.

M4E: “Would Tesco really oppose regulations that reassure their customers that they can be trusted in future?”

In the immediate future, there will likely be clamour from all sides for regulation and enforcement of regulation of processed food – as there has been for banking and financial services. But from past experience there are fashions about these things.

In a while, someone will start up waving flags again for deregulation and free market capitalism. I don’t know how long it will take but the financial crisis and, now, the processed food scare are awful warning signals about the downsides of deregulation slogans. So far, John Redwood – at one time the shadow minister for deregulation – and reigning champion of red tape cutting has been keeping his head well down.

IMO the fruitful political debate focuses on the costs and benefits of specific regulations, not on clarion calls for sweeping deregulation and red tape cutting.

13. margin4error

Bob B

I think some years ago I would have agreed with you.

But the status quo is now corruption, criminality, farce and abuse.

As such there isn’t going to be a period when this has all died down and thus when idiots can rail against regulation again. There’s just going to be another massive massive scandal, and then another, and then another. And it will keep happening because our economy and our society is sick and needs curing.

Be it the stories of police corruption, banking flippancy, libor fixing, MP expenses, Horse-burgers or the murdoch press – it isn’t going to stop. No one knows what comes next. But there is going to be a next. And then another. And then another.

Because – fundamentally – our society and our economy is structured so horrendously badly that the symptoms are not going to go away. And while the symptoms of our society being sick are so in evidence month after month after month, those who want to make it more sick can’t easily make a case for doing so.

14. margin4error

Jack C

Agreed – quality regulation, not quantity is the issue. All the constant railing against red tape needs to end. All the constant lobbying against regulations that run to thousands of pages and thus hinder companies – is entirely wrong-headed.

More good quality and powerfully intrusive regulation is going to have to be put in place.

And first and foremost it should be fair regulation.

If my local kebab shop is found to be selling unsanitary meat from unverifiable sources – it is closed down.

So why the hell is my local Tesco still open?

Fair and severe regulation of disreputable practice puts the incentives back in place for companies to act responsibly.

“So why the hell is my local Tesco still open?”

I don’t know, have they done anything wrong? Amongst the many possibilities are:

1) Tesco were entirely compliant with the regulations, but have been the victims of fraud by their supplier(s). Meanwhile, the authorities were asleep at the wheel and failed in their regulatory duty.

In this case, Tesco would have a case for claiming losses from the authorities.

2) Tesco did not have the proper controls in place, and left themselves entirely open to fraud.

In this case, massive fines or worse should result. However, the regulators would still have questions to answer.

M4E

There are occasional outbreaks of debates among academics, pundits and bureaucrats on the respective merits of “incremental” verus radical or transformational change – be it of technological innovation or social. The usual consensus is that incremental social change is to be preferred because it tries and tests before progressing further and because incremental change is easier to reverse if the expected or claimed benefits don’t materialise.

A diagnosis that our social system has become fundamentally sick may be correct but it invites a prescription that only a transformational remedy will cure the malaise. And that is worrying. Transformational social changes tend to have unwelcome outcomes. Consider the ascendancy of fascism in the inter-war period or China’s cultural revolution in the 1960s.

17. margin4error

Jack C

Tesco have unambiguously done something wrong.

Tesco have sold meat for human consumption that is so contaminated that it would not be reasonable to expect it to be used for human consumption.

You’ll note the slightly legal phraseology of what I’ve just said because the rules are laid out in the Food Act 1990. The Act is explicit that a seller will still face enforcement even if the food was rendered injurious to human health without the seller knowing that (It is, thus, the seller’s responsibility to verify its supply).

And of course the later food act of 1999 makes clear that emergency enforcement is to be taken where it is reasonable for the inspector or other official person to believe that a risk to human health is ongoing. That enforcement can take a range of forms, including the closing of the premises, which is a relatively common action taken.

Of course the Food Standards Agency has unfortunately adopted the one in one out policy for regulations that this government put forward (and more recently has moved to one in two out). As such it is unfortunately perhaps too focused on quantity rather than quality.

But after the event – it’s all pretty simple. Officers can order the closure of any premises selling contaminated meat, or any premises that it is reasonable t believe is selling contaminated meat.

And no idiot, not even the most bias of Tesco bigwigs, is presently arguing that Tesco is not selling dodgy meat – since they all know that they don’t know. Also, having been caught out on repeated products, the hope it was a one-off is some what gone.

18. margin4error

Bob B

I tend towards incremental change myself – but your examples of radical change are a little odd. You could just as well have highlighted the fall of the Berlin Wall which created democracy where it previously wasn’t – or victory in Europe, which gave birth to social welfare and in England an NHS.

So the radical can be positive.

Likewise the incremental can be devastating. Ironically I would highlight the rise of Fascism as a consequence of abiding by the incremental when radical response was needed to Germany’s problems. Likewise an incremental approach to economic policy has taken to the scandal-ridden present in the British Isles.

In the end, social disease tends to result in radical change. The sicker the society, the more radical the change might be. For those who favour the incremental, there’s little doubt the best option is to act quickly and relatively radically.

@ 17:

You’re missing my point I think. (By the way, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the meat is “contaminated” as such, just that it was horse and not cow).

Clearly there is a limit to what Tesco can do to ensure that the meat they sell as “beef” is really, beef, and that it is uncontaminated. There is presumably a procedure, for buying food and checking your sources.

The question is, did they follow it or not? Were their supplier’s approved or not? Etc etc.

The blame might lie with Tesco, the authorities, or both.

My own experience of corporate culture, which would affect both sides in this, would suggest that ticking boxes may have partially replaced actually seeing and believing. But that’s just a guess.

To be fair, Gordon Brown was only unpopular because the public are complete and utter morons.

“fixed term parliament nonsense is just a stunt. It may be stuck to but legally it would take nothing to call an election before 2015 still”

Bollocks. It’d need a passed motion of no confidence in the clownshow; that is the only way in which that would be legal. Otherwise, it would be against the co… oh look just feck off ya ignorant bollix.

M4E

“So the radical can be positive.”

I surely agree – my selection of adverse examples of transformational change was intentionally selective to illustrate potential hazards.

Italy, not Germany, pioneered the fascist state as Hitler acknowledged. A key insight IMO into what motivated the transformation in Germany was this: In January 1932, Keynes visited Hamburg to give a lecture according to this biography: DE Moggridge: Maynard Keynes (1992) p.539. On his return to Britain, Keynes wrote in the New Statesman: “Germany today is in the grips of the most powerful deflation any nation has experienced . . ”

In January 1933, after Hitler became Reich Chancellor in Germany, the National Socialist administration embarked on a public works programme to build autobahns, stadiums and civic buildings to create jobs. In his study of the inter-war years, Kindleberger noted that this was hugely successful in cutting unemployment, which went down:

” . . from 6 million in October 1933 to 4.1 million a year later, 2.8 million in February 1935, 2.5 million in February 1936, and 1.2 million in February 1937.” [The World in Depression 1929-1939 (Allen Lane, 1973) p.240]

The Nazis had lifted policy proposals to create jobs by public works from a pamphlet Keynes co-authored for the Liberal Party for the 1929 general election: Can Lloyd George do it?

The terrible insight is that the Nazi government was very popular in Germany and attracted substantial majorities for plebiscites in November 1933 to endorse the creation of a one-party state and again in August 1934 to approve combining the functions of Reich President and Reich Chancellor in the person of the Fuhrer. Goering in his defence testimony during the Nuremberg trials after the war was emphatic in saying that the democracy of the Weimar Republic had clearly failed and was shown to be incapable of dealing with Germany’s problems.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana: The Life of Reason

as New Labour-ists resigned in droves

What “droves”?

24. margin4error

Jack

I understand your point – but your point is wrong. There is no limit to what Tesco are expected to do do ensure their meat is not contaminated. And yes, it is contaminated meat. It may not be green meat. It may not be diseased or drugged meat. But clearly their beef is contaminated with something. And that something is horse.

There is an extent to which Tesco might reasonably argue that they don’t test the quality of every findus batch because it is a recognised brand and it is reasonable to expect that findus has stuck entirely to the law (should never assume this about any company of course – only idiots do that, but Tesco might argue that.)

But even though that is in fact absolutely no defense under the food act – it can hardly apply to the burgers they make themselves and that contain horse meat. It is utterly absurd for a company to suggest it is impractical to know what goes into its own products.

And again, emergency enforcement doesn’t require any of this to be established or argued anyway.

25. margin4error

Bob B

I’d be very surprised if we were talking about such terrifying outcomes as that. Although our economy is shockingly weak, it isn’t really the economy that is our sickness. The economy is a symptom of the widespread criminality, laziness, greed and corruption that our society has fostered.

The risk of Fascism is very much born of the conservative. But not the socially conservative in the conventional sense. More the lamenting conservative that deems the present inherently worse than the past. This in large part explains the rise of UKIP, with their appeal very much focused on the “we’ll protect your little corner for you because modern life is rubbish” emotional appeal. This doesn’t make them fascist btw.

Italian fascism fed off this with its harking back to roman imagery and structue. Ukip offer the impression of a simpler way, which amid corruption and scandal at every level of our corporate and political social order,comes across well to those upset by the complexity of the world we live in, and who want to return to a simpler way.

The really important thing for Labour is to offer that simpler way itself. Justifying corruption and scandal, or defending those at the heart of it, on the basis that things are very complex (as Jack has done) alienates people and creates a demand for something simpler.

And the suggestion that Tesco be shut down is illustrative of it. The argument against it is complex, detailed and appears to let wrongdoers off. Much as the banking collapse appeared to leave wrongdoers with big bonuses while we had to save them out of our pockets for complex reasons.

The argument for it is that it is fair. And that is a very simple arguement to make.

m4e: you are wrong about the Food Safety Act 1990, just as you’re wrong about parliament lengths, and indeed most things. Section 21 provides a defence of due diligence – in other words, if you made reasonable checks on your supplier but they sold you substandard food, you are not guilty.

You’re also talking horse, erm, shit, when you claim that the meat is “contaminated with horse”. If I knowingly sell horse meat as beef, I’m guilty of an offence under section 15 (falsely describing food), not an offence under section 7 or 8 (rendering food injurious to health / not complying with food safety requirements).

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 margin4error

“on the rather more nit-picking note, something extraordinary need not be surprising. Gareth Bale can score an extraordinary free-kick for Spurs or Wales without surprising the world, because it is known he has an extraordinary left foot.”

I’m with Tim on this one. I don’t think Sunny used “extraordinary” to mean “outlier”. The sentence reads like: “Oh god this is unbelievable except of course I was expecting it all along.”

28. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 m4e

“Tesco have sold meat for human consumption that is so contaminated that it would not be reasonable to expect it to be used for human consumption.”

Horse meat is totally suitable for human consumption. It’s popular in France and you can buy it here (sales went up after the scandal broke). And it’s totally unreasonable to compare this to a kebab shop selling unsanitary meat. Your implication, I assume, is that Tesco is getting special treatment for being a big player. The actual difference is that unsanitary meat kills people. Basically you’re using “contaminated” to cover two utterly different magnitudes of badness. And that’s before we get into whether or not retailers were complicit/negligent, or whether they were duped along with everyone else.

Incidentally, if they’d closed down every supermarket chain that sold unlabelled horse meat, we grocery shoppers would be pretty much fucked right now.

@28

Horse meat is totally suitable for human consumption.

Well it is if the meat from the horses in question was raised with the intention of it being eaten by humans. Generally animals that are not intended for human consumption will be given things like BUTE that animals that are intended for human consumption will not. The problem that is coming to light is that horses not intended for human consumption have significantly entered the food chain for a number of years now. Apparently the risk from eating BUTE contaminated meat is low. Then again the same was said of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, for a time.

The evidence from the graph is clear. We need Tony back.

Can’t argue with facts.

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 29 Cylux

Fair point, so if there’s an identified serious health risk from eating these products it’s comparable. Otherwise not. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use BSE as a yardstick because 1) anecdote and 2) that was a new thing, I assume we know a bit more about bute than we did about BSE and CJD back then.

@31 We know enough to ban it from being used on animals that are for human consumption. Apparently the reason it’s not to be worried too much about, is the dosage from tainted meat is low and under the levels required to cause harm unless a significant amount is eaten in a short space of time. But biology sometimes has ways of throwing a curve ball, be it with miraculous impossible recoveries, or completely unexpected reactions to a new drug being tested, which had no ill effects on other primates it was tested on.

So should there be an increase in unexplainable kidney failures discovered around the UK in this current period, we might well have an answer as to why.

And that was when Brown was throwing money around like confetti,refusing to make any cuts and pretending that none were required.

How could this individual ever be selected as a candidate?

‘‘In October 1984, when the Brighton bomb went off, I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of her
demise and yet disappointment that such a chance had been missed. ‘This
was me – the pacifist, anti-capital punishment, anti-IRA liberal –
wishing that they had got her. “Why did she have to leave the bathroom
two minutes earlier?” I asked myself over and over again.’

John Zims: “And that was when Brown was throwing money around like confetti,refusing to make any cuts and pretending that none were required.”

That’s just lying garbage. In 2007 before the financial crisis broke, general government expenditure in Britain as a percentage of national GDP was marginally higher than in Germany and lower than in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, France etc.

As Bob Diamond, the outgoing CEO of Barclays Bank admitted in an interview on the BBC Today programme on 4 November 2011, the banks must accept responsibility for what went wrong.

In the interview – which I listened to – he repeatedly said that banks must work towards a situation where banks could fail without taxpayer support and without causing systemic instability of the banking system.

Jimmy – as for bringing Blair back, try this from the BBC news report of the G8 conference in Evian in June 2003:

Tony Blair has rejected calls for an official inquiry into the government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood “100%” by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.

“Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false,” he said.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2955036.stm

Blair has no credibility nowadays. He lost 4 million Labour votes between the elections of 1998 and 2005 and at least half the membership of the Labour Party.

“How could this individual ever be selected as a candidate?”

Let alone Prime Minister.

“Justifying corruption and scandal, or defending those at the heart of it, on the basis that things are very complex (as Jack has done) …”

Excuse me? All I’m saying is that before blaming anyone, it might be an idea to establish what went wrong. As I said at the start, I’m not an expert on this.

Meanwhile, you seem to be auto-pinning it on The Man, on the basis of not much whatsoever. You may want to consider that the food safety authorities are technically The Man also.

36

The impact of Tony Blair on the Labour Party is an excellent example of wisdom with hindsight.

@Jimmy

O’Farrell, not Brown. O’Farrell is standing for Eastleigh. The Tory candidate, Maria Hutchings, has rather shot herself in the foot with an unforced error; declaring that state schools obviously can’t provide an adequate education for her gifted child. He wants to be pulmonary surgeon; 12 year olds are choosing their clinical specialisms early these days.

With a disgraced LibDem out and a celeb Labour candidate who unquestionably wished that Thatcher had died in the Brighton bombings, if Cameron can’t win a decisive victory at Eastleigh, what can he win?

When the likes of Gove can see themselves as potential leaders you have a party which is so rotten below the water-line that no amount of pumping will save it.

The interesting thing for me about that chart is how *very* unpopular Thatcher was; until the Falklands.

41. Kenneth Moreton

for labour to really click with the eletorate, Ed needs to get brother David back on board and on the front bench, replacing Ed Balls.

42. Kenneth Moreton

for labour to really click with the electorate, Ed needs to get brother David back on board and on the front bench replacing Ed Balls.

“I can’t say I’m an expert on the horseburger debacle. Who’s process was at fault, the food companies’ or the regulators’?”
I would say the ones who made the burgers. A thief steals from a shop, the police don’t catch him. Who is in the wrong ?. The police cannot be everywhere.
As Mid staffs, one might say that core of the problem was that management market led initiatives got in the way of the true purpose of a hospital. I.e to care for the sick.


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