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Will Cameron be able to take his party with him?

October 1st, 2006

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    Meanwhile the young leader plans to attack Brown for being “weak”

There’ll be a bit of a relief as the Tories gather in Bournemouth this morning that the second poll to come out since the Labour conference still has the party in the lead. The survey by ICM in the Sunday Mirror, has with changes on the last poll by the firm CON 36 (nc): LAB 35 (+3): LD 19 (-3).

Fieldwork began on Thursday, a day later than yesterday’s YouGov poll, though the broad trend is the same – the Tories staying where they are with a three point switch from the Lib Dem to Labour. No doubt Team Cameron will be reminding critics in Bournemouth that in September 2005 ICM was showing a 9% Labour lead.

For the Tories the big question that is out of their hands is knowing how Labour plan to attack them. With all the focus on leadership matters in Manchester we heard very little from the party about the approach they intend to take to the increased Tory threat.

    Do they portray Cameron as all spin and having no substance or do they accept he is genuinely trying to move to the centre but will not be able to take his party with him.

Labour’s dilemma is almost the same as that which faced the Tories when Blair emerged and John Major’s party went into its 1997 General Election disaster without having this resolved.

In a perceptive article in the Indy on Sunday this morning John Rentoul writes “…Labour is faced with the more difficult problem of how to deal with an opposition leader whose sincerity is accepted by the British public. Tony Blair ought to be the first to understand that Labour’s focus should be on the fact that the Tory party does not believe any of the green, liberal, high-spending stuff that it has just voted for in a pale imitation of his rewriting of Clause IV…Of course, we can now see clearly the limits of the change wrought in Labour’s psychology – one of the reasons Blair is going is because he failed, ultimately, to convert the party to his ideology. But Labour made a huge effort, lasting more than a decade, to suspend its disbelief.”

Meanwhile in a taste of how the Tories will respond to Brown there’s an interview with Cameron in the Sunday Telegraph who attacks the Chancellor for being weak. This is a completely new line which does not fit with current perceptions and it will be interesting to see if it resonates.

This is how Cameron lays into Brown: “.. He’s being pushed around by everyone. He’s been told he needs to look more modern, so he tells us he likes the Arctic Monkeys. Incredible. He’s told he looks too Scottish, so he tells us he likes Gazza’s goal against Scotland. Utterly incredible..He’s told you’re plotting too much and you look like a schemer, so he says Tony’s always going to be my friend. Completely incredible..If you’re pushed around this much before you’ve even applied for the job what are you going to be like as prime minister.”

The main betting interest during the Tory conference will be its affect on the Labour leadership. My guess is that this very personal approach by Cameron will affect the markets and we could see a weakening in the Brown price. For those wanting to bet on Brown the next few days might be the time to do it.


Mike Smithson






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