Does Marf’s cartoon sum it up?

Does Marf’s cartoon sum it up?

How secure is Labour’s polling base?

PB’s cartoonist, Marf of, has come up with another cracker which is probably not far off the mark in summing up the mood in Downing Street. For after being so far behind for so long Gord wouldn’t be human if he didn’t get a lift from another poll showing that Labour is getting quite close.

He must be careful, however, not to see seen to be using the crisis for party political purposes. That charge could be damaging.

What is interesting is that the pollsters showing the best Labour positions at the moment are the same ones that had the biggest Labour leads in that frenzied period at the end of September 2007. The others then – the telephone pollsters that weight by past vote, ICM, Populus, and ComRes – all had narrower margins though some of that was down to timing.

If in the next few days these three also report margins close to YouGov and MORI then Brown could really start to contemplate an election during 2009.

But there are a couple of dark clouds on the horizon for Labour. Firstly the detail of many recent surveys indicates that Labour’s recovery has been bigger in Scotland than elsewhere – which could mean that it is correspondingly smaller south of the border. This matters because there are so few Scottish LAB>CON marginals.

A second concern are indications that a significant proportion of 2005 Labour supporters are still reluctant to say that they will do the same again. ICM has a 73% 74% Labour retention rate while MORI is at 77%. This compares with 95% and 93% respectively for the Tories. Much of the new vote coming to Labour seems to be from non-voters from last time.

As ever we always say – let’s see more polls. We shouldn’t have too long to wait.

Mike Smithson

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