Do these numbers smash the Number 10 fantasy?

Do these numbers smash the Number 10 fantasy?


“Government’s always recover” – eh?

There is a notion which seems to be deeply ingrained in the minds of many pundits and Labour figures that there is some immutable law of polling that says that Governments always recover by election day. This is summed up by the following from Martin Bright in the Spectator tomorrow:-

He notes that in Downing Street “…a rather desperate numbers game is being played. It starts with an assumption that the Labour vote has stabilised at around 28 per cent. This is rounded up to 30 per cent, and is forecast to sneak up to 32 at the turn of the year — because the race tends to narrow as polling day approaches. Then, with the coming of spring, the flimsiness of the Cameron project will finally become clear to the British people. The legendary Brown street-fighting election machine will swing into action. With one last push, and if the weather is good on election day, Labour hits 35 per cent of the vote and a hung parliament is in the bag.”

It might be that the race will narrow as polling day approaches but it certainly has not happened with the two general elections that the Labour government has fought.

Reproduced above are details of all the published polls in the final seven weeks of 2000 and 2004 and a comparison with the general election results that followed. With the former all the surveys had double digit Labour leads – when the ballots were counted that was down to a single digit.

In the 2004/2005 period the polls at this stage were getting it slightly better – but there is precious little evidence to support the governments always recovery notion.

Now it might be that this is indeed what happens. But to claim or believe that is what always happens is bunkum.

Mike Smithson

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