Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ruling Labour Party fell to third place in an opinion poll for the first time since 1982 as activists received a campaign timetable pointing to a May 6 general election in the U.K.
Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats led Labour in the Ipsos-Mori Ltd. survey finished Sept. 27 and published today. An internal document distributed at the ruling party’s annual conference sets out a day-by-day schedule for building support, suggesting a four-week election campaign beginning in April. No date has been fixed for the vote, which must be held by June.
In his address to supporters today in the seaside resort of Brighton, Brown will announce measures to tackle crime. It’s part of an effort to win back middle-class voters who have flocked to the Conservatives as the economy tipped into recession and the financial services industry teetered on the brink of collapse. Yesterday Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling attacked bankers and the rich.
“Labour is very, very weak,” Ben Page, chief executive officer of Ipsos-Mori, said in an interview at Labour’s conference. “The mood here is just terrible. Most people who want to vote Labour say they expect Labour to lose.”
I imagine that a number of disillusioned voters would come home to Labour in any general election. I certainly don’t think that the Liberal Democrats would make up the loyal opposition to any Conservative government. But the chances that I am wrong have certainly gone up, haven’t they?
Relatedly, how many Labourites who once spent time denouncing Tony Blair as “Bush’s poodle,” and worked to remove him as Prime Minister and leader of the party, now wish that he were back in power? I am betting that the number is pretty significant myself.