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There is a few key differences: Labour are not as unpopular as Major's government ever was (people don't perceive that the government has made them suffer), and unlike in the 90s, the government's unpopularity has not translated into support for the opposition.

This represents a failure by both main parties.

I agree James. Labour are not in such a bad position and the Tories are nowhere near as strong. Labour also has Gordon Brown waiting in the wings. There is a smell of decay at the moment, however, that has a Major-era feel.

It's not just that the Tories aren't as strong as Labour was in the 90s, it's that the Conservatives are losing support too!

Agree that the Conservatives need to up their game - the strategy of re-brand steady release initiatives followed by key policies was based on a NuLab admin in slow decline not one apparently on edge of burn-out.

Circumstances have changed, adjust the strategy.

I support the aims of moving to and taking the centre ground but we need now to show our teeth. Problem is the opposition is stregthening but its the LDs and the three extreme parties (I do include UKIP in that though its not as bad as BNP or Respect) that are benefitting.

You can almost hear Blair saying to Prescott: "Come on, John. It's bound to come out sooner or later. Let's use it to take a bit of the heat off Charles."

With this government, it's almost impossible to be too deeply cynical.

No doubt Clarke will try brush it off as the "distorting media" again.

Paranoid, authoritarian and incompetent. Not a good combination for a senior govt post.

I see the Blair was told about this in DECEMBER of last year. It seems as though Blair, Blunkett, Clarke and Straw all have blood on their hands if any of these criminals has committed a further crime, particularly another violent crime.

Even a couple or a dozen prisoners who weren't deported would have been bad enough. But a thousand is surreal.

If this is not Hunting Season for the Conservative party, then what is?

If there is one man for whom I can summon not one iota of sympathy - it is John Prescott.
Love truly is blind as a bat.

I don't think this is the End of New Labour project, but more like beginning of the End. The Government seems to verge in between of incompetent (prisoner release story) and corrupt (cash for peerages). I think these problems have all accumulated under the years, swept under the carpet by the Number 10 spin machine and armies of PR consultants employed by the ministries – so there will be plenty of bad news still out there which has just not come out.

We’re still in the early days of Conservative re-branding and as everyone knows it takes a long time to build the brand. I think Dave the Chameleon is doing the right thing banging about the environment as this comes with natural association with nature and conservatism (ie. farmers in wellies and tweed jackets, lush green lands, etc etc). The idea is to stake a claim to the environment similar to the way how Labour claimed the NHS.

And there could be an element of Labour getting all the bad news out now so Brown can come in as the great reformer etc.

With Labour switching leaders, it does make the challenge of attacking them very difficult.

"With Labour switching leaders, it does make the challenge of attacking them very difficult."

Perhaps if we did the same it might make it easier.

I agree John, but not likely to happen.

My wife, who as an ex-trader but long-term mum for many years now looking after our 5 kids keenly watches the news, but has avoided commenting on politics.

Last night she had a go at me for not voting Davis. I was shocked and asked her why and she simply said she has had enough of Cameron preaching.

I think James made an important observation with the difference between Major hubris and situation now : people don’t perceive that the Government has made them worse off. I think this is very important as studies have shown that people stay very loyal to their political allegiance as this would force them to think and revaluate their beliefs. This is due to the way how our brains get pleasure from reassurance and positive feedback – hence we NATURALLY tend to seek to ignore facts and reason that might be against our perceived reasoning and beliefs. Only when there happens to be crisis which affects people on personal level, we are able to challenge our biases and look outside our established way of thinking.

The facts are reported in this website, it’s a study done by Emory University : http://www.livescience.com/othernews/060124_political_decisions.html

Interesting deduction from this is that we can pretty easily predict the core vote for Labour and Conservatives. Dave the Chameleon has done right thing in targeting the floating voter who usually abstain or vote for Lib Dems. In order for us to win votes from core Labour voters, I think we would require a major economic shock a’la 1970’s when droves of core Labour voters abandoned the party to switch over the Tories and Thatch. Even with Gordon’s fumbling, I cannot see this happening.

When Brown becomes PM there will be an inevitable bounce for Labour as he will represent a new broom and be able to put Iraq and the current competance problems behind him.

Cameron is right to keep his sights firmly set on the medium to long term. While the frontbench obviously needs to hold the government to account it shouldn't be overly distracted from the much more important and much harder task of changing the public's perception about Conservative attitudes to social justice, the environment etc.

The last election demonstrated that however much the public hate the government they are still reluctant to vote Conservative. These entrenched attitudes won't be changed easily.

Charles Clarke is explaining himself away at the moment.
The ONLY reason Clarke isn't allowed to resign, is that he is there to take the flak away from the beloved leader, that is the only reason.

Downing Street says the Prescott affair is just a private matter. An affair with your secretary is not a private matter - it affects the workings of the department.
I don't really think the story was leaked to take the heat off Clarke - it's not in the same league. Much more likely Prescott thinks it's a good day to bury bad news.

Postal Vote fraud raises its head again in Birmingaham. Not a good day for Labour is it (if it is them as I suspect)!

>>>>Labour are not as unpopular as Major's government ever was<<<<
It's hard to say, after all the Conservative Party actually got more votes in the 1997 General Election than Labour got in the 2005 General Election - if anything currently Labour remains in power because of a combination of extreme good fortune in terms of demographic trends for them relating to the way that the constituency boundaries are decided and because people don't like the Conservative Party or Liberal Democrats very much either.

I think after Gordon Brown becomes leader that Labour will revive to some extent, but after he finishes I don't see Labour having any future - there will be battles within the party over the way forward after that with a resurgence of fans of Tony Benn probably seeking for a return to Old Labour policies and a stronger position for Trade Unions, Trade Unionism is dying in this country - they have no future and with them Labour will almost certainly go into the wilderness as the Liberal Party did from 1918 on.

No greater love hath any "man" for his party than to lay down what remains of his credibility to divert attention from a criminally incompetent colleague. Well done Prescott! Not only do I instantly believe that the Prescott shenanigans were wheeled out to divert attention from the horror at the Home Office, I'm starting to wonder if he wasn't ordered to have the affair in the first place, to put in the bank for the rainy day when it was needed. These people are about total power, and nothing else; and they call OUR leader a reptile?

Think National, Groan Local: the Evening Standard continues to pay for Diane Abbot's child's private education (Hackney's schools are only good enough for common people, not for our Diane) by paying her to spout some crap about election expenses. Given that the last time Diane was spotted in the borough was when she whisked by on her way to St Paul's on enrollment day, it's a bit rich to read her guff about getting out on the streets and meeting people. Come on then Diane: or anyone in Hackney Labour - come out tonight in Queensbridge, and we'll go and meet some voters together, shall we? We're meeting 7pm at the Cat and Mutton pub, Broadway Market E8. It's the pub with the huge Tory poster on the wall; next to the shoe shop with the Tory poster in its window, around the corner from the grocer's with the Tory poster on the window, across from Spirit's shop with the Tory poster on the door ... &c

nicely edited start to BBC 6 o'clock news - Dave saying "enough is enough"then cut to nurse atacking Hewit saying "enough is enough"

Pehaps Graeme its worth repeating a few times round Hackney....

enough is enough

"The idea is to stake a claim to the environment similar to the way how Labour claimed the NHS."

The only problem is that people are more concerned about the latter. The environment may be fashionable but when it comes to opinion polls on what issues concern people the most, the environment comes much further down the list.

'Postal Vote fraud raises its head again in Birmingham. Not a good day for Labour is it (if it is them as I suspect)!'

No - this time it's the Lib Dems. So much for their sanctimonious pretensions. Suspicious that this news should come out now. Obviously a 'good day to bury bad news'. Why aren't we making more of an issue of postal vote fraud ?

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

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