April 11 2009 – the day the Labour government died?

April 11 2009 – the day the Labour government died?


Was it political failure and not the economy?

One of the regular arguments on the site is whether it’s the economy or politics that drives changes in public opinion and how people will vote.

I’ve long been part of the political failure camp and the table of YouGov polls from UKPollingReport, I would argue, backs me up.

Just look at what happened in mid-April 2009. Labour had been happily coasting in the 30s since September 2008 and reached a high point of a 36% share in November 2008. It then started to wobble just a touch but in the first post-G20 survey after the April 2 2009 meeting Brown’s party went back to the mid-30s.

We then, on that momentous Saturday of April 11 2009, saw the dramatic resignation of Damian Mcbride and nothing’s been the same since. This was followed up a little later by the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses exposes and life hasn’t been comfortable for ministers since.

There seemed to be a step-change in opinion at the time which had nothing to do with economy but all to do with a perceived political failure.

Can Labour recover? Well the time is running out but there could be an event that, say, totally changes voters’ views of David Cameron. It could also be that Labour changes its leader and that might prompt a return to the pre-April 2009 poll levels. Who knows?

And for those who still argue that it’s the economy then how come that the Tories lost power on May 1st 1997? The polls had them ahead on that key measure – but voters didn’t care.

Mike Smithson

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