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Labour moves 8% ahead. They'll be 20% ahead before too much longer...

Tim Montgomerie

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The Twittering Left have been excited about this poll all evening and now we've reached the embargo I can confirm that ComRes gives Labour a 8% lead in tomorrow's Independent. With YouGov the deficit is just 3%.

Well, my fellow Conservatives, this is only the start of the unpopularity. We've only started to walk into the valley of unpopularity. I predict our journey will last at least two years. Some time in the future we will celebrate an 8% deficit as our party climbs back to popularity. In the meantime get used to our party falling into the twenties and Labour reaching towards 50%.

As we travel through the valley I offer you these comforts...

  • Throughout the world electorates are savvier and more volatile than they've ever been. They are savvy enough to use opinion polls, London Mayoral elections, parliamentary by-elections, and local elections as vehicles of protest. Electorates are also much more volatile than they have ever been. Ask Kevin Rudd, Barack Obama or Nicolas Sarkozy. We may go down fast in the polls but we can recover fast too.
  • Look below the headline numbers. More interesting than the declared voting intentions will be who voters trust on the economy. Whether they think Cameron is more prime ministerial than Ed Miliband. Whether they think the Conservative Party is united, competent, in touch with the pound-stretchers.
  • The economic cycle is on Cameron's side. We should be in the upswing phase at the time of the next election. If the economic gods smile kindly on Cameron the UK economy will be ticking along nicely by 2013/14/15 and Osborne, Cameron and Clegg will be able to say they steered the UK economy through difficult times - without any help from Labour. It will be a powerful message. In the meantime there'll be tough cuts, inflation, higher mortgage rates, internet-powered explosions of protest and, most worryingly, the potential for real €urozone problems. But we will get through it. Hopefully.
  • The Coalition is doing many good great things. It isn't the Conservative government we wanted but if the Coalition government leaves office having fixed the deficit... created thousands of new academy and free schools... liberated local government from central control... made work pay... given new powers to patients... introduced elected police chiefs... brought immigration under control... revolutionised the funding of charities... put universities on to a sustainable financial basis... restored historic liberties... we can be very proud.

ConHome's Mainstream Conservatism project is going to look at the kind of manifesto and machine we need for re-election but, as I've blogged before, Cameron & Co need to govern without re-election in their minds. Doing the right things now - rather than the easy, crowd-pleasing things - is actually the best route to re-election. Whatever happens, if Cameron keeps his nerve, he can be a more consequential PM in one term than Blair was with three victories.


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