Should Westminster heed John Curtice’s words?
While we wait for the polling stations to open in America let’s focus for three or four hours on the political situation in the UK and some timely words from Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University in today’s Independent.
Under a headline “Banks bailout fails to boost Labour ratings” Curtice is quoted as saying: “..The mood of new-found optimism that seems to have enveloped the party at Westminster in recent weeks certainly seems to be out of proportion to the scale of Labour’s recovery…Labour has simply moved from being in dire trouble to being in deep trouble.”
In the panel above are the calculations from UK Polling Report of the impact of current polling figures from the six firms that regularly cover British politics on the commons seat calculations. One of the surveys, Populus, is a month old and we should get its latest number next week.
But the fieldwork for all the others took place after bank bailout package and all the kudos that Brown and his team were getting.
What’s happening is that our old friend “the media narrative” is now all about the Labour recovery irrespective of whether the polls back it up.
So the latest survey in the Mail on Sunday showing disastrous shares for Labour was tucked away in the final paragraph of another story even though it must have cost several thousand pounds to commission. The Ipsos-MORI poll hardly registered as did the Channel 4 marginals poll from YouGov that pointed to a Tory majority of 54.
The only numbers that journalists want to focus on are those that support the narrative. So responses to questions like the one talking of “Gordon Brownâ€™s decisive handling of the bank crisis” are given prominence without any of the so-called media political experts pausing to question whether this form of wording might lead to pro-government findings.
All this is why the only numbers that matter are on voting intention and why this site will continue to put the focus on them.