Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UK Election, Events of This Week

Rochdale Woman
Gordon Brown made his unfortunate comments about that woman in Rochdale, this may not sound like much and may simply sound like Gordon Brown is tired, but it could have some major impacts on the PM.  

There have been some stupid comments or actions by Canadian Prime Ministers in elections where their government was losing.   In 1984 Liberal PM John Turner patted a senior party member on the bum, a woman that went on to be the Queen's representative here in BC.   I assume he did so that he would look more like a 'lad' than the upper class elite that he was.   To give you an idea of the sort circles he was in , while Turner was in London in 1959, he and Princess Margret hit it off.

The incident made him look foolish, stupid and completely out of touch with political reality.   This incident made his campaign suffer more.

In 1993 Prime Minister Kim Campbell made some very dumb off the cuff remarks.   First that unemployment and the deficit would not be reduced before the end of the century, and second that a campaign was not the time to discuss the overhaul of Canadian social policy.   Her comments put her vote into freefall.

In both cases the issue was related to how a PM should act and how stupid it was for them to have done what they did.

The 20% of UK residents that will vote and are hardcore partisan Labour will see Brown's comments with sympathy, that he is honest.   The hardcore Conservatives will simply being reinforced in their opinion about Brown.   How will the rest of the people see his comments?  

I believe he will be seen as mean spirited and petty, two qualities the public does not want in a PM.   The comments could very likely depress the Labour vote several points through people choosing not to vote.  While I can not prove it, my gut tells me this will push Labour to the 25% range.

Compare this to what Nick Clegg had to say recently:
 "I quite simply don't know whether God exists... I know it's obviously fashionable to say one does, but I don't." He adds: "I'm not a man of faith. Sometimes I very much wish I was, because I think having faith must be a great thing."
Clegg manages to not only give a response that sounds very honest, but he manages to get a dig in at pandering.   He also aligns himself with the majority of UK residents.   Most people in the UK honestly have no idea if there is a God and spend no time in a church.   The devout are already most likely to be strong supporters of the Conservatives.

The Last Debate
The first debate was the surprise win, the second was the draw, what will the third bring?   Likely it will not leave an lasting impression on the political landscape.  The factors to consider are that the there were unrealistic expectations of Clegg going into the second debate, that Labour has not done a great job on domestic issues, and finally the Conservatives are seen to be mean spirited on social issues.

My take is that people will be watching the debate to confirm their opinion of the leader of the party they are leaning towards.  The one that will have the most people watching for that purpose is Nick Clegg.  If Clegg does well, and neither of the others shines, the debate should be worth enough of a boost to take the Lib Dems into the low 30s.
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