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Tim tsk tsk leading with the bad poll not the good! anyone would think you are trying to stir things up.

The problem with the loans scandal is it hurts us nearly as much as Labour - every reference to Labour sleaze has another to Tory sleaze (Blair's govt seen as sleazy as Major's etc).

David Cameron needs to come out strongly tomorrow - not just on what we will do but also prepared to admit what we have done. Upfront mea culpa if necessary. He isn't personally tainted by what happened last year or the year before, so he's here to lead a changed party, transparent in its finances, open to scrutiny. We haven't done anything wrong but because Tony Blair has dirtied the whole process with secrecy and stink of possible corruption this is what we will do.

The good figure for us in the YouGov poll was a plus 33% for DC in personal ratings. He needs to make the most of this trust to take the spotlight off Tory loans and back onto Labour sleaze.

meant to highlight a line in the Sunday Times
"here is a perception among voters that Cameron will take a tougher attitude on sleaze than his predecessors."
Make it so Dave.

Do not let us be distracted.
1 Contributions are an essential gesture of support. We all probably dig out for the election fightinmg fund, and how much is given is less important than the gift.
2 The purchase of honours is not new. It degrades the honour itself (if that is still possible) and is unacceptable.
3 What is truly bad is the appointment of chums and backers to the Lords, putting individuals into a position of political power in Parliament without election.

There is slightly better news for David Cameron in The Sunday Times. A YouGov survey gives the Conservatives a 38% to 35% lead over Labour.

Slightly better? There is a chasm of difference between these two polls. ICM shows Cameron's leadership on the skids. YouGov confirms that the Party has finally broken out of the low thirties cordon -- and is ready to make the push into the low forties.

So which one is it? I'd suggest that this is real issue. Anthony Wells are you there?

The news of over £276,000 a year for Steve Hilton should shock party members, who are working hard to raise money for the party. It should shock donars - it now takes several big donars to pay for one year of the branding consultant.

When you think of the donated money now pouring into the pockets of an inner circle of friends, it does make you wonder why we bother with those little fund-raising events in our homes! It might just buy Steve a cup of tea.

sorry, donors

C'mon Tim, why did you lead with the ICM poll?!

I think DC needs to be very strong about party funding and, however painfu,l we should be the first to come completely clean and have a proper plan for how to improve things. Ted is right to say DC needs to show the public's trust in him is not misplaced.

If we have been involved in anything even vaguely similar to the horrendous goings on inside the Labour party heads should roll and we shoud publicly apologise. We cannot let TB 'move on' from this by staying silent and giving weight to the 'they're all the same' argument. I am still hoping that tomorrow will bring a radical announcement that will clearly show we are not like the sleazeballs running the country at the moment.

There must be more patently honest rich people like Stuart Wheeler willing to give us money if it's needed. I see no reason to have loans from individuals, commercial or otherwise.

In that YouGov poll, amazingly, as many as 14% thought that Bliar hadn't given peerages in return for donations and loans! Where do they find these people, and do they not have access to the news in their padded cells?

Big John makes a good point. Buying gongs has always been the unpleasant underbelly of the honours system. I pity someone who thinks it is worth spending cash for a knighthood, but the thought of being able to buy a lifetime vote in a parliament?

If one of our European enemies decided to sell seats in their legislative assemblies then the bleeding heart brigade would have a fit.

It's interesting that Chai Patel is willing to appear at a Commons inquiry about the affair. He is the one who came across in the media as taking the most capitalist approach to it all - in a bemused way he seemed to be thinking that he'd coughed up the cash, so why all the fuss about getting the fancy hat?

The inquiry should be a good opportunity to move the debate back towards Labour sleaze, which might help these poll figures a bit - whichever ones you choose to believe.

Ted/ kingbongo...

I talked about the ICM poll first because it had the most interesting findings on Labour sleaze. I hardly buried the YouGov poll... the graphics for both polls are pretty large!!!

Ian Sider: "There is a chasm of difference between these two polls."

Not really. Both suggest that the Tories have yet to make enough of a breakthrough. Even YouGov's 'better' poll - and I generally trust YouGov most - suggests that Gordon Brown is not likely to be the disadvantage that ICM polling has suggested he might be. There is much less difference between ICM and YouGov when questions are asked about Brown.

Judging by the ICM poll it would appear that Oliver Letwin's 25% strategy is well under way.

George is on TV saying that Conservatives are going to cap donations!

I missed that Mark... can you tell us more?

You're making me disbelieve my ears...

On Sunday AM George Osborne said that David Cameron would be making a big announcement tomorrow to cap donations. He called it an offer to all parties - so it may be designed to put Labour on the spot rather than a unilateral commitment.

Isn’t it exciting that ConservativeHome is writing Conservative policy!

I was just thinking the same Mark. It was as if George Osbourne had been reading from the site.

According to Andrew Marr Brown's tax take is now 38%, higher than in the 1970s.

We must ask ourselves why, with all the sleaze etc, is Labour still ahead in the polls? Cameron's personal score is still below that of Blair. It shows that the general public are not concerned with ethics anymore. They know that politicians are not to be trusted, so why bother voting for people who accept sleaze as part and parcel of the parliamentary system.

No wonder 40% of the public do not vote.

Thanks for the clarification on the polls but maybe, if these two polls are going to be the main measure you could go turn and turn-about!

George Osborne was was talking about a cap on funding so one up to the editor - Marr cheekily then asked something about it 'not being amounts like £100,000' - I wonder where he got that figure from!

I think the Cameron team are playing an interesting hand with this announcement tomorrow as GO kept raising the source of large donations and of course with Labour this is the trade unions.

GO made big play that the cap would apply to all donations from all sources. Without the unions the Labour Party would be bankrupt, they already have a deficit in their pension fund.

The announcement tomorrow will therefore be a good idea that Labour can't accept but the tories and LDs can - thus isolating Labour as sleaze-merchants-in-chief .

Margaret - I was under the impression that Cameron's personal ratings are much higher than Blair (isn't Cameron on +33 and Blair on minus something?)

Blairs approval rating is -25% according to YouGov.

As ICM's results are in line with their previous poll, it proves that wasn't a "freak" poll as many tried to claim. The question now is which is right?

Is Cameron doing considerably worse than Michael Howard was when he handed over the leadership (as ICM shows), or about the same as Howard was at the comparable point in his leadership (as You Gov shows).

Neither poll is exactly a ringing endorsement.

When considering these two polls, please keep in mind margins of error. On a 1000 sample (such as ICM), the actual number of Lib Dem voters (after removing a large wedge of non-voters and 'don't knows') will be no more than 150. The margin of error on that (ie the 95% confidence range) will be at least 5%. So ICM's 21% and our 19% could, effectively, be the same.

The difference between the Conservative numbers is greater, and we have always tended to have the Conservatives a few points higher than the rest. But it is still not as significant as the much clearer story: neither the YouGov nor the ICM polls show more than a 1% change on the parties since the last time. In other words, nothing much is changing.

My guess is that while people will be unimpressed by the 'loans for honours' debate, they think that all parties are much the same.

Regarding Poll results, I believe there is a saying 'If you don't ask the right question, you don't get the right answer'. I realise there can be several 'takes' on that statement, but who do the pollsters ask in order to get a representative result? If it is truly representative then some people should be asked first, do you know what 'sleaze' means, and then perhaps an description given.

I hope that comment does not brand me as patronising, because in my daily 'round' when I frequently bring up items in the newspapers etc: to acquaintances that I meet, I am often amazed at how little they do understand about what is going on politically (not because they are stupid, but because they are conditioned to think that it is not their domain, or too difficult to get their head around!) and I might add it is not always women who have this mindset. I talk to everybody and just try to inform them a bit in a way that they will remember, you can't MAKE people curious if they don't want to be, but anything helps.

I think however remote Blair is from ordinary English people (and his forays into schools doing his usual grinning routine, impresses only children - thats why he always goes for them), that either he or his army of spin doctors DO understand very well the dilemma I have described above, which is why they put out these 'shock tactic' sound bites, which catch the eye. However accurate a more reasoned argument will not even be noticed by the people I am talking about, and there are millions of them around - not voting!

What should worry Labour is that most people don't think it would be any different under Brown.
What should worry us is that 45% think Blair should stay!
Perhaps this reflects the no different under Brown opinion (so why bother changing leader of a sleazy govt if its no different).

also shows we have been tainted by sleaze - how can 20% think Labour is less sleazy? We had Tim Yeo & Mellor resigning over sex scandals, Hamilton & Smith issue over payments in brown envelopes, Milligan then the Archer & Aitken.

Whereas Labour gets away with any sex scandals and concentrates on corruption at the top - Cabinet ministers, Prime Ministers. Unfair but addressable.

Everyone knows tat YouGov is the most reliable poll. Everyone also knows that an Opposition does better in the polls than at Election Day. Given the current scandals, Blair Ennui, and Cameron's honeymoon, the Tories should be well in the 40s. That they are not is an illustration that, ceteris paribus, Brown is going to rout Cameron at the polls for a comfortable fourth consecutive election win.

Polls may be of some relevance near to an election but I am afraid at this point in the electoral cycle they are just nonsense.
People change there mind about who they prefer on the latest headlines, no one is thinking about who they are going to vote for at the next election when the last one was held just ten months ago. The party is clearly making progress and we should concentrate on that thought not start panicking or moaning everytime the party as a bad headline or drops a couple of points in the latest poll.

Its nice to see all the cameron doubters out in force as usual, thinking that the election of a good leader should mean an immediate leap in the polls. We've had that leap, last time i checked 38 was 5 more than 33, and as many have said we've still not published any policies!

DC has done such a lot in his first 100 days. He's revitalised the party, got rid of the nasty image and made the press print stories about us, which can be backed up with evidence! For so long we've ben portrayed as the bad guys, with no evidence to confirm that fact, now we are at least in a position to explain our policies, without too much danger of the Labour spin machine twisting our words.

I don't doubt that a lot of people will now be saying "I wonder what it would be like if DD had been elected?", I think I can paint a good picture based just off the events of last week:
- Eric Forths comment on Wednesday would have been made by a shadow cabinet member, meaning seriously bad press for the party
- We'd have defeated Labour on the education bill and consequently couldn't have published any similar policies at the next general election to avoid accusations of flip flopping
- We would have had no defectors, no matter how unimportant they are
- The press would still be attacking us non-stop

The party is clearly making progress

Since you deny the validity of opinion polls, Jack, I'll be fascinated to hear what makes you think that.

Oh come on - there has been so much come out 'bad' about NuLab in the past three months that you can't attribute all of the shift to DC's leadership.

Have any of these polls actually asked whether electing DC as leader has shifted their vote to the Conservative Party? As apart from losing faith in the Labour Party and being upset by the behaviour of top Lib Dems. I know plenty of labour voters who just can't believe what they're reading recently the worrying thing is they all say they're not going to bother to vote at all next time!

- We would have had no defectors, no matter how unimportant they are

We were winning council defectors under Howard's leadership. This isn't a Cameronesque phenomenom.

It's obvious that this Labour party are more sleazy than the previous Conservative Government. We have high ranking Labour Government Ministers getting up to all manner of things compared with junior or backbenchers in the Conservative reign.

It's not that suprising to see the polls showing no Conservative gains from Labour sleaze. If the question is worded: "Is Labour sleaze as bad as Conservative sleaze?" then all it does is remind voters of Conservative past. Notably, only one or two members of the previous Government remain within the Conservative team (and they weren't the sleazy ones) yet the image of Conservative sleaze remains.

By 1997, people had "forgotten" the mess the country was left in by the then previous Labour Government in 1979 (rubbish piles in the streets, union strikes, millions of working days lost) - yet the Conservatives in some respects are not receiving the same treatment.

People have very short memories... unless it suits them.

This weeks council by-elections make very bad reading for the Conservatives....indeed, most weeks over the last 6 months show a general reversal of 9 years of gains. ICM may have it spot on. Why vote Tory if every major (and often sensible) policy has been ripped up and why vote Tory if Cameron is copying Blair- who is not liked?

We need policies and substance.

Its interesting to see that the mark of sleaze appears to be sticking to Brown as well as Blair.

Either of these polls are not good when you consider the events of the last few weeks. Its not a direct comparison at all, but when there were fuel tax protests when Hague was leader, our bounce in the polls was very significant, though it disappeared almost as soon as the protests ended. With a leader who is well liked by the media and apparently respected by the public, with a government in chaose and scandal, we should have a significant lead across all polls. It appears to me that the lack of an alternative vision of government is holding us back. It is good that the party is ending its silence on the issue of party finance and there is still a long way to go.

I thought George Osborne came across quite well this morning, especially when talking about the effects of Brown's taxation on the viewers ability to pay their morgages. But he couldnt follow it up by clearly saying, that tax relief is needed. Also the way he sat on the sofa, looked what I can only describe as 'schoolboyish'.

I think we need to keep a steady hand on things. Cameron has made a good start and his personal ratings are good. We know that we are beginning to attract a newer, younger crowd of members and that women voters seem to like the messages. So there are signs of real changes. However to go to the next phase of development needs careful thought. It has to be said that given all the problems Labour have had people still seem to be willing to vote for them in larger numbers that you would expect. We do need to understand why. Is it that their lives are pretty good really and that there is no real earth shaking problem. It is likley that sleaze just doesn't register for them as they expect, wrongly, that all politicians are corrupt etc,


>>>>My guess is that while people will be unimpressed by the 'loans for honours' debate, they think that all parties are much the same.<<<<
All 3 parties have over the years nominated people for the Lords who have been major donors or who have made substantial "loans" to the party and if anything the more scandal there is on this the more the 3 party vote will be liable to drop, although I don't think that the Greens, UKIP or any of the others would actually be any different on this - indeed they might be much worse.

Surely the most important thing is that the issue isn't used to railroad Parliament into voting for the Political Funding of Political Parties, all kinds of people are using the news for their own purposes and Parliament may go into a knee jerk reaction and go for a system that is itself full of problems:
On what basis would parties be funded and how much?

Naturally parties not getting State Funding would claim they were being unfairly treated especially if there were severe restrictions on raising money by other means plus of course it would increase overall public spending.

Equally there are moves to railroad the Lords into being wholly elected, but unless it is going to be on a different basis to the Commons then there is no point and it would be cheaper and more efficent just to abolish the House of Lords rather than duplicating functions, Statutory Appointees of people in certain positions would be better - Head of the CBI, Heads of the Research Councils, President of the Royal Society, Head of the Local Government Association - that sort of thing. If there was going to be elected positions surely it would have to be on some kind of list system allowing for representation of small Minority Parties - this could well mean hearing Nick Griffin standing up in the Lords and spouting off at regular intervals, Most people don't want a system that would be likely to give the BNP or the Communist Party representation.

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