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Why Blairites like John Rentoul have got to stop looking at GE2015 through the prism of 1997

July 14th, 2014

It’s a totally different election with very different dynamics

There’s no doubt that Tony Blair’s GE1997 victory, coming as it did after four election defeats over the previous 18 years, was a stunning success. Blair did it by reinventing his party so it would appeal to large swaithes of voters who never before had done anything other than vote Tory.

But because that result was so good for the party doesn’t mean that the Blair approach is the only one that will work for the Red team or that it is even possible now. Take this from the Blair biographer and ongoing Blair enthusiast, John Rentoul in yesterday’s Indy on Sunday:-

“My view, and this cannot be based on opinion polls, is that when the voters come to choose they will shy away from the prospect of Miliband as prime minister, just as they shied away from Neil Kinnock in 1992.”

I’d suggest that it is very dangerous to ignore the numbers, as Rentoul is suggesting, and base analysis on gut feelings, anecdote, or previous positions.

In 1997 the Blair challenge was to attract 1992 CON voters. At the coming general election all the polling points to very little switching between 2010 CON and 2010 LAB. The main movement has been the big post-coalition shift of 2010 LD voters to LAB and the biggest priority for the red team is to retain them in the key marginals.

That’s still holding up and notice from the table above how this key segment views Mr. Miliband. This is a view of Ed that has been seen in mega-polls whenever the sub-sample of switchers has been shown.

Would Rentoul’s choice for LAB leader, David Miliband, have had anything like this level of appeal to the voters that matter?

Mike Smithson

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