Could Gord be making a terrible mistake?

Could Gord be making a terrible mistake?

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    Should he have waited until he’d seen all the post-Blackpool polls?

If we are to believe the Guardian this morning everything is now set for an announcement on Tuesday that there will be a general election on November 1st.

A whole series of actions and other measures are being set in place to allow the time-table and it’s beginning to look like Europe in August 1914 when the momentum of activity would have made it almost impossible to stop the outbreak of the First World War even if leading statesmen had wanted to.

    All the thinking, apparently, has been based on opinion polls that have been taken in the most exceptional of circumstances. As many poll-watchers were saying in May and June it was not going to be possible to get a clear view of public opinion until after the inevitable new leader honeymoon and the party conference season had come to an end and several more weeks had elapsed.

At the very least Gord needs to wait and to study in every detail all the post Blackpool surveys that, hopefully, should be coming out in the next few days.

In particular he should focus on the pollsters that adjust their figures by likelihood to vote – which does not include YouGov. My guess is that the Tories are likely to see a rise in their “certains” or “near-certains” which has two effects. It can increase the overall share for the party even if there are no new declared Tory voters and it could decrease Labour’s shares because the overall pools have got bigger.

The polls that I would be looking for if I was advising Brown would be Populus and ICM, the two established phone pollsters which both weight by turnout and by past vote. If they are are showing Labour margins of more than 6-7% then it would seem a safer bet. If not then it could be highly risky.

What has struck me particularly in the past forty-eight is how much tougher the media is in its scrutiny of the government and the relatively positive coverage that’s coming from the Tory conference. If that is going to be reflected in the polls Brown needs to see it before lighting the blue touch paper.

Mike Smithson

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