Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | February 17, 2003

Blair, Howard down in polls

Hopefully foreshadowing Bush's own future, Blair support is down to 35 percent. That's a 14-point drop in a single month.

For additional perspective, check out Blair's precipitous drop in the past 15 months.

Bush's other hard-line ally, PM Howard of Australia, is getting similarly pounded in the polls. In a poll released over the weekend, Howard's support clocked in at 48 percent -- a 17-point drop since the Bali bombing last October. (Though Howard benefits from an even more despised opposition leader.)

UpdatesJerome Armstrong of MyDD directs our attention to Spain, where PM Aznar is also getting pummeled for his war support. There's a strong possiblity Bush may lose Spain's diplomatic support for his invasion.

SKapusniak in the comments gives us a report straight from England, arguing that Blair is pretty safe:

Actually the results of that poll make me think that Tony Blair is in a stronger position than other recent polls have suggested.

Note that the approval rating of a British Prime Minister is not a particularly significant number. We don't directly vote for the PM after all. The only thing that really counts is the party rating. It's only if a large number of a leader's own party think that he/she is going to lose them the next election, and by extension their jobs, that they'll work out a way of ditching them.

In the poll Kos references -- which happens to be done by the polling company with the best record for accuracy in .uk -- the party ratings, Labour/Tory/LibDem are 39%/31%/22%

For reference the last general election numbers were approximately 41%/31%/19%

That gave a seat breakdown in the House of Commons, again Labour/Tory/LibDem, of 412/166/52 a majority of 167. From an 'stop the war' perspective it's worse than that as the official opposition Tory policy is that if anything Tony isn't backing Dubya enough, so let us carp about military preparedness.

Plugging the new poll numbers into the handy dandy uk election prediction software I have here I get a new seat breakdown of 406(-6)/151(-15)/71(+19). Even switching the tactical voting assumptions from anti-Tory to anti-Labour only gets me 401(-11)/157(-9)/70(+18)

This is pretty much down in the noise as far as loss of seats is concerned, and as long as Labour stay around about 40%, and the Tories continue to flatline around 30% that's pretty much the way the seat situation it stays.

And note that the in both those scenarios the next largest party is actually losing seats.

Last weeks poll in the Times -- unfortunately by a company with no real polling track record -- was much more scary for Blair at 35%/34%/25%, that gives, with anti-Labour tactical voting, a seat breadown of 337(-75)/212(+46)/84(+32) a majority of only 17 seats. The sort of thing that starts making backbenchers nervous.

That does look like a rogue result tho'.

The only other 'scare the backbenchers' possibility I can think of that might relevant is the situation in Scotland, which has parliamentry elections in May and a big Scottish Nationalist Party victory would start people thinking 'break up of .uk' given that they are pro-independence. However I don't have any recent numbers for Scotland.

ExpatBoy, an American in London, also chimes in:
A General Election is not due until June 2006 (though it will probably come a year sooner). The Conservatives are in such terminal decline that I don't know anyone who is concerned about them staging a serious comeback at the next election. Sure, they could gain some seats, but they are far, far from an overall majority. A much more likely scenario is that the Liberal-Democrats will pick up many disappointed former Labour supporters. For instance, I live in Islington South, a gentrified part of central London that has always voted Labour but is a top Liberal-Democrat target (which is a shame, given that the Labour MP for Islington South, Chris Smith, is a leading anti-war voices in the Labour Party). Here, disaffected Labour supporters have a real alternative, the Liberal-Democrats (their leader, Charles Kennedy, spoke at the anti-war march on Saturday; the Liberals are for higher taxes for public spending, reform of the House of Lords and are usually more consistently left wing on social and moral issues than Labour.)

A lot of Labour MPs are very angry about Blair's policy, and the vast majority of rank and file Labour Party members do not support this war. If Blair takes Britain into war, especially without UN authorisation, I think there is a very strong chance that he could be booted out of office by his own party (as happened to Margaret Thatcher in 1990). This could take place without a general election. Who would be his replacement? That's a real tough one. The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, wants desperately to be PM but I'm not sure how strong his support in the Labour Party really is.

Posted February 17, 2003 08:22 PM | Comments (44)


Bush Administration
Business and Economy
Foreign Policy

© 2002. Steal all you want.
(For non-commercial use, that is.)