Mike Smithson wrote an article today at politicalbetting.com today asking the question whether Labour would be doing so badly in the polls if Tony Blair was still leader.
I think it is an interesting question. Personally, I fail to see how they could be any worse, but I struggle to square this with the fact that I much prefer Gordon Brown's inept leadership to Tony Blair's arrogant premiership. In my opinion, Brown's ratings have plummeted not because of the General Election that never was, but because of the 10p tax-rate debacle which goes against everything the Labour party stands for - a policy he more than anyone else was responsible for.
Along with the Iraq war (amongst the liberal wing of the party), and the failure to deal properly with the question of immigration (amongst sections of the white working classes), the 10p tax rate has led to many of those who lean Labour to look elsewhere instead. I remain to be convinced that there is a clamour for a Conservative government, and I would not rule out a 1992-style surprise where the electorate hold their noses and vote for Labour because there is no real will for a Tory administration, although I suspect this may just be wishful thinking. However, unless something changes soon, it is likely that Britain will be heading for a re-run of 1997 in reverse where the Government collapses at the polls leading to at least two terms of a Conservative government. Like 1997, the spread markets are not convinced - but there is a killing to be made if one believes the polls.