Tories get a kicking on economic competance
22 April, 2008
Alistair Darling has a difficult act to follow. Gordon Brown was Britain’s most successful ever chancellor. The period of economic growth that he helped sustain is the longest in British economic history. Obviously since Brown has moved into No 10 we have seen the emergence of the credit crunch, Northern Rock, and the beginnings of a down turn in the housing market. Couple this with a government in its 11th year in power and you would expect the opposition to be viewed as more economically sound by the voters.
The problem for the Tories is that they aren’t. Thanks to our friends at conservative home (cheers guys!) I found out Darling has a 6% lead over Osborne. Why is this the case?
1) The voters can differentiate better government incompetance as in being dumped out of the ERM under Major and the effects of a globalised economy where subprime lending in the US housing market is causing banks around the world to question the value of mortgage based collateral that the banks want to use to get wholesale loans to then us to lend ordinary punters like us.
2) The voters support what the government has been doing. Your average voter is not a world class expert in economics but they can see what the government is doing to solve the problem in the credit markets and with northern rock. They may not like the paper liabilities on the public purse which is frankly completely understandable but they also realise that the consequences of inaction could be much much worse.
3) The Tories simply haven’t put a convincing case. Ask people what is the Tory alternative to the governments economic policies and you are going to get a lot of vacant looks. There simply has been a failure by the shadow chancellor to sell his message whatever it is to the country. The modern conservative party has not yet realised it is not enough to gain the confidence of the voters by saying what the government has done is bad. They actually have to put to the people what their alternative vision is.
4) The real economy is still going along OK, not brilliantly but OK unemployment is still low and getting lower, the economy is still forecast to grow this year. House prices may fall a bit over the next 12 months but this is on the back of massive growth over the last few years. Also if house prices do fall there will be plenty of gainers such as first time buyers and people who want to trade up to a bigger property. They will all benefit.
So lets be clear. Taken together this is a massive problem for the Conservatives. The opposition should be taking the government to the cleaners but they have really failed to articulate an alternative policy and while the economic policies of the government aren’t causing dancing in the streets people are seeing them as responsible, combine that with people’s propensity to base their vote on economics at a general election then the Tories esp Iain Dale may be in for a shock at the next general even if they do well in the up coming mid term elections in a few days.