Monday, July 14, 2008

Linford v Smithson on Brown v Blair

Mike Smithson is one of the genuine giants of political blogging so I'm always rather flattered when he namechecks this blog. Today he devoted an entire post to a discussion I raised on his blog last week over whether Labour would be in quite the mess it's in now had Tony Blair stayed as leader.

My view on this has always been that Blair had become a liability for Labour long before 2005 and that had Brown been leader at the last GE the party would actually have won a majority in excess of 100, but Mike disagrees and thinks that if Blair were still leader the Tories' lead now would still be only in single figures.

Most of the posters on PB.com sided with Mike on this but there was some support for my point of view from the distinguished pollster Robert Waller who made the following very interesting comment:

"By 2005 Blair was a very significant disadvantage to Labour, with Professor Harold Clarke and other academics using the British Election Study claiming that there would have been another 100 plus landslide majority if he had not been PM at the last general election.

"Thereafter, he did have to go, forced out earlier than he intended by pressure within various sections of the party culminating in the ‘plots’ around the time of the Lebanese invasion/crisis.

"With his party as well as the public thoroughly fed up with him, there was no possibility of remaining; the massive sigh of relief was the cause of the ‘Brown bounce’ (that really wasn’t Brown’s attractions!) in the third quarter of 2007. If for some reason Blair had managed to avoid all the pressure to go in mid 2007, the head of steam of ‘time for a change’ would just have got stronger and stronger.

"In addition he would have faced almost all the significant problems Brown does, unless he would be able to work a miracle with the oil and other commodity prices and economic peessimism which are the reasons for Labour’s current dire position in the polls. They would surely have been even worse off under Blair."

Ultimately, of course, as one other poster pointed out, all such counterfactuals are meaningless. But they are good fun, nevertheless.

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mighty egos abound - yawn.

Anonymous said...

I am dumbfounded by the number of people who think Blair was a nice guy compared to this leader. Blair was far nastier in his spinning he got kelly into trouble and the current leader only spun againt Blair in revenge for the sexual rumours Blair spread about him.
What surprises me is some idiots seem to blame the current leader for Iraq instead of Blair. It was Blair that took us into Iraq not this leader. Blair ran foreign policy not domestic policy.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with your views and believe the majority of the comment on Political Betting are accurate. I cannot agree with the argument that Gordon Brown would have had similar support of the floating voter (Middle England)that Tony Blair attracted. Many of my friends are floating voters (I am not) who voted for Tony Blair - they liked him regardless of policy issues. They have now transferred their voting intention to David Cameron - they like him too.

The PM acts purely for political ends rather than being guided by practical policy considerations. Look at the 10p fiasco - and yes I am still a loser. People do not like this trait nor having a leader that can not relate theough the media. The Party is doomed un der his leadership - he should go.

dirty european socialist said...

Why do middle england voters like people like Blair who used his spin doctor to bully a governmment scienitist to suicide.
Does it simply come down to who has the best looking candidate?
Blair was the one who did the Iraq war, and had very little to do with economy.
No wonder the russians gave that ukranian presidential candidate poision to make him look uglier. LOL. I bet labour will try the same trick.

dirty european socialist said...

Perhaps middle england people are snide two faced back stabbers who pretend to be nice, becvause they wear nices uits, and talk proper but in reality are complete ####s. No wonder they like Blair and the tory leader. LOL.

Tim J said...

Paul - I agree that Blair was certainly an electoral liability by the time he left office, but the assertion that Brown would have won more seats in the 2005 election is a little less certain.

Since Brown took over, after all, he's been polling poison for the Labour Party - and there's no reason why that wouldn't have been the case in 2004.

skipper said...

Paul
No doubt that Blair was way past his sell-buy date when he went; if he had stayed on- as I'm sure he wished- Labour would now be in an even worse condition. But Blair DID last ten years and survived dips in his popularity with some aplomb. He was an infinitely more astute and gifed politician than Gordon who has cocked things up royally in a tenth of the time. Labour was follish to put its faith in Brown though no-one had the courage to stand against him which is to the party's discredit.

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