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MORI: Economic optimism rises to John Major levels

September 1st, 2009

Article Updated 1855

Ipsos-Mori

But remember what happened on May 1 1997?

The above chart from MORI shows the changing to responses since 1997 to its economic optimism question which has been asked in the same manner for several decades.

As can be seen there’s been a sharp rise in recent months and now the numbers are showing a net positive. Twelve years ago, just after the election, the trend continued and it touched +28 points – last month it was +16 points.

But like in 1997 the fact the the index is “in the black” seems to be having no impact on the incumbent government. The Tories had positive numbers but were thrown out by Blair’s landslide – now Labour is still struggling in the polls.

This supports the view that I have argued here before – that “It’s NOT the economy stupid”. When a government is seen to be politically weak it is then it is most vulnerable. That’s what happened to the Tories and what seems to be happening to Labour now. Just look at this second MORI chart which seeks to plot the trends.

At a conference of political academics at the weekend I had a long conversation with Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University who is a strong proponent of this view. He told me “If it was the economy then the Tories would have been returned in 1997 with an increased majority.”

NOTE: The article has been slightly amended to make clear that the 28 point plus peak in the EOI in 1997 happened in the days after Blair’s election victory.

Mike Smithson