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Today’s swing figure:
» 2.14% swing to the Conservatives «
There’s a new ICM/Guardian poll out today, which reduces Labour’s lead two points on the last ICM poll, to 39/33. This has obviously aided Michael Howard’s bounce factor, and he does appear to be back on the way up again. Of course, the field work for these latest polls was done at the beginning of the week when Howard was being advised to change his strategy due to poor poll performance, and he insisted on sticking to his guns. The fact that, as the polls show, he was actually on the way up at the time he was being told to change his strategy perhaps shows that he’s a better electioneer than people take him for. Interesting.
Less interesting, but far more significant, is The Sun’s decision to back our mate Tony. It’s the biggest paper in the country, and as such holds a lot of sway. The suddenly viciously-Conservative Mail leads on Mr Blair’s terrible, seemingly close to violent, performance with Jeremy Paxman last night. I always wonder why politicians avoid the question in such an obvious way – like when it’s asked twenty times – because it not only makes them look guilty as sin, it also gets them in the papers far more than a simple answer would have done. Asked if he knew how many illegal asylum seekers there were in the country, which Mr Blair could easily have guessed he was to be asked, one of his apparently marvellous spin doctors should have written him a nice couched answer, with an explanation of why, and a ‘no’ somewhere in the middle, so that the soundbite of ‘I don’t know’ couldn’t have been taken without the explanation, and possibly a jibe at the Tories too.
It’s matters like this, and silly slips like ‘Council tax are at their lowest levels for decades’, that really make you wonder how proficient these spin doctors are. They’re clearly not well prepared, some of the writing is terrible, and if any of them could just come up with a little thought to do things differently, they could cream everyone. Think about it – if Michael Howard, for example, had gone with a slightly different set at Conservative HQ, perhaps without a lectern, and giving him the freedom to walk about and point at things on an impressive looking projected PowerPoint, or even just to get disenchanted ex-Labour voters up on stage with him, and given him the opportunity to use the hand guestures he loves so much without them being obscured, he could have looked brilliant in comparison to Labour, who would be doing the same old thing with a couple of locked-off cameras. And this would all come at minimal additional cost. All they have to do is make their press-conference sets as versatile and impressive-to-camera as their conference sets, which can’t be too difficult. Instead, they do it all on the cheap, and make it all look samey and, frankly, cheap.
Anyway, I wandered somewhat off the point there, but, to return to the polling data, it seems like Michael Howard is bouncing back like a tiny rubber ball. Hurrah.