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Worth noting that initial polls after the ERM crises weren't that bad for the government.

Further, these figures are pretty close to a half and half split. It's up in the air, basically.

This poll only covered 518 people......

'The problem with this sort of poll is that it did not contain voting intention questions and my guess is that it wasn’t past vote weighted. So any comparisons with polls that have been adjusted in this way are not worth making. One of the oddities of phone polling is that firms like Populus find a disproportionate number of Labour supporters answering the phone. For years the technique known as past vote weighting has been used to scale this back.

I think we need to see some properly adjusted voting intention figures before we can conclude that Gord and Alistair are off the hook.'

Mike Smithson


Am I the only person who thinks Northern Rock could be a 'testing of the water' to see if the public is hostile to state capitalism?

Not surprising really when the Conservative position on NR was, and still is, very confused and incoherent, which begs the question what would have been the picture if the Conservatives had got their act together? An opportunity to do some damage to the Governments credibility missed methinks, and at time when political ideology has been abandoned and political parties are making their pitch to the electorate on competence, its an opportunity for the Conservatives to advance their case that’s been squandered.

We need to nail this one. People have to undestand that billions of pounds is being put at risk because a compnay was allowed to do this. Why were they able to, because of Gordon Brown's flawed regulations. We are underperforming on this issue and need to up our game and coherently nail Darling and Brown on the issue with facts not personal jibes.

Surely 'state capitalism' is an oxymoron?

That was directed at Tony Makara @ 20.51, btw.

"We need to nail this one."

A bit late I am afraid, for as I said the Conservative position has been confused, their attack against Labour muddled, and resorting to personal jibes. If the Conservatives are going to salvage something of the opportunity handed to them then they have to sort out their line of attack.

Right now I would say they need to suggest that Labour have bought a bank where they haven't bothered to establish what are the EU rules under which they can operate it, they don't have a clue what they want to do with the bank, and haven't a clue what assets they have bought, but hey who cares its only £110 billion, there's a load more tax money they can wring from the tax payer if they feel like it. In other words get Labour on carelessly spending tax payers money.

To say the Conservatives do not have a coherent alternative on the details of Northern Rock's nationalisation is exactly the same as saying they have no clear idea on how to operate the finer details of central planning- the entire concept is alien and they are opposed to all nationalisations in the first place. They do not need to have a position.

Had the Government and BoE not interferreed in the first place, this would have been dealt with by the market and we tax payers would not have paid £110 billion for a shot business.

"Voters back nationalisation by 49% to 40%:"

Good. Now perhaps Dave will find something else to bang on about at next weeks PMQs

As you all very well know this would never have happened if the Tories hadn't have allowed carpetbaggers to de-mutualise the building societies in the 90s - your point scoring is tedious, petty and hypocritical.

More voters blame the Bank of England, the City authorities and Northern Rock in particular for the bank's problems (rather than the Government)
Certainly the Board of Northern Rock are the main ones to blame for the banks difficulties, they failed to safeguard their shareholders interest, it shouldn't have demutualised, but it was lending to people way beyond any possible means of them paying it back that brought Northern Rock down like a latter day Titanic.

Whether the government should have stepped in and bailed them out is another matter, but all 3 main party frontbenches had policy commitments to not letting it go down - I'm inclined to think that it should have been allowed to go down with anything salvageable being sold off by liquidators, I doubt it would have had much effect on other banks as they had not been so reckless.

Clearly Comstock you have no idea of the implications of the Northern Rock nationalisation. It's problems have precisely nothing to do with demutualisation (many buildong societies have demutualised perfectly happily) and every thing to do with a catastrophically agressive business model that was extremely badly regulated because of the REGULATORY REGIME SET UP BY BROWN.Got that? Coverage of this subject you may think of as tedious etc, your comments are totally ignorant.
The amount of money committed by Darling is twice that of the annual education budget so I think you're going to have to put up with the tedium for a while longer.

What this proves is the power of the media combined with the stupidity of the people makes unseating Nu-Lab very difficult.

Part of the problem is that the Tories overdid it. Calling for Darling to quit. Talking of a catastrophe. Saying we were back to the 1970s. George and Dave didn't look measured or serious.

Greg is right
This is yet another example of the political elite speaking only to the political elite. Readers of the FT, economists and a few corinthians understand the cock up this represents and the damage it can do to Britain's last remaining industry, the financial City. The man in the street thinks its fat bankers and is probably grateful to the government for protecting their mortgages and savings from them.

The Conservative response has been confused and unemphatic. Unless the Conservatives come out with proper alternatives, the next election is never going to fall into their laps simply through luck or by making schoolboy jibes at Labour. Hagues jibes were funnier and still ineffective.

Ha! I love it when Conservatives fail to win over the public and they then use the 'It's because the British public are thick - it's not us that's wrong, it's the people' line!

I'm sure that's going to win you the next election guys!

Just watched Question Time (BBC in Newcastle) and still can't make sense of our Northern Rock policy.

Get rid of immature Osborne, and put Michael Fallon or Dominic Grieve in place now.

Malcolm Dunn - be careful about how you call for better regulation from the government itself. I agree that this was poorly supervised though.

It's not surprising. The people haven't heard the Tories back a clear case for non-socialism for a very, very long time.

This is what Cameron doesn't seem to realize: you don't only need to WIN, you need to win for a reason, create a mandate for change, wage the war of ideas.

This is Cameron's biggest weakness.

"As you all very well know this would never have happened if the Tories hadn't have allowed carpetbaggers to de-mutualise the building societies in the 90s - your point scoring is tedious, petty and hypocritical."

Building societies are quite capable of failing, in the same way as banks do. The ownership structure of Northern Rock had nothing to with its demise. Its problems arose because of the business model it followed.

I can't help thinking that were we to have Sir Malcolm Rifkind or Dominic Grieve as Shadow Chancellor we would have made far more impact on this issue.
Osborne doesn't make the impact that someone in his position should make, though he is getting better. Calling for Darling's resignation was ill judged and silly.

We need to remember that these are early days. We have no idea if the nationalisation of Northern Rock will even work. There are going to be court cases brought by angry share holders, Northern Rock customers are going to loose their homes and this is just for starters. With all this happening the press and public will soon change their minds. At this point the Government and the Liberal Democrats are going to look pretty stupid.

As for the Conservative Party, well George Osborne has to be replaced by a heavy hitter. Darling is weak, but Osborne is weaker. With someone like Redwood at the Duispatch box the Tories would be able to defeat darling week in week out.

With the already stated caveat about the sample size, methodology, etc..

I think this could demonstrate that an increasing number of people don't remember the bad old days of nationalised monolithic industry and don't regard the "n" word with the same negativity as core Conservatives do. Observe the nutters yesterday calling for British Gas to be renationalised after yesterday's (excellent) prelim results.

Without shifting the underlying narrative back in our favour we are only nudging at the wheel of the supertanker. It will take longer to turn it around.

"Just watched Question Time (BBC in Newcastle) and still can't make sense of our Northern Rock policy."

Yes, I watched it too see if the Conservatives had at long last put together an understandable narrative on Northern Rock, but they haven't, which I find truly incredible. Is there no one in CCHQ who will call a meeting to thrash out their position on this , and refine some bullet points why they are against nationalisation and for their Chapter 11 (at least they are beginning to explain it that way, so its progress I suppose ). But surely the Shadow Cabinet must be seeing this failure to make their case as an embarrassment if not a liability to their political fortunes?

There was a Tory policy paper on Northern rock and their alternative plan on their Party website. It seems to have disappeared though.

Can someone at CCHQ please put the 3 page policy paper on Northern Rock more prominently? Perhaps attach it to the most recent news headline (the one with Lord Strathclyde talking about the Lords amendments yesterday). Clearly not enough people have access to this and its critical that the Conservatives push their own ideas, or else Labour might get traction through their own comments on the policy before the public get a chance to read the policy for themselves.

"Clearly not enough people have access to this and its critical that the Conservatives push their own ideas,"

Not many people are going to read policy documents, but they will hear a politician on programs like QT, yet even here Conservative politicians are unable to make a clear, cogent, or concise, case for their policy, let alone have the arguments to hand to pull apart Labour's nationalisation ( and there are arguments to be made here ) we saw this with Chris Grayling on the Politics show, and again last night.

You're right, but surely the Conservative frontbench would know this policy paper well so they can push the Conservative policy forward on programmes like Question Time. Alan Duncan needed to spend more time booking up on this paper so he could put it across properly. Its not like the issue wasnt going to come up.

It cant take that long to have a decent briefing on such an important current issue.

I agree with the last few people in particular - good points.

I'm afraid our floundering on this issue (and over personalised attacks - without a clear alternative) is squandering our lead in the polls, and people are starting to suspect the government might handle a crisis better afterall.

That is entirely self inflicted.

For goodness sake, CCHQ and national party - get rid of Osborne. He does not have credibility.

I'm a centre-leftist who happened upon this site before the Election that Never Was and had some fun gloating here for awhile. Then...it became too unpleasant to visit Conservativehome...Tory gloating with good cause...
But! I've been back for the last few days. I have nothing at all to gloat about but it occurs to me that my enjoying perusing your site again is a VERY bad sign.
After the abominable events since last autumn (almost without record in terms of protracted calamity), polls are showing the Tory lead DIMINISHING. This accords with my experience. One thing that comes through again and again is that those in the don't-care-but-still-vote category are feeling more and more distaste for David Cameron (apart from a couple of gently critical opinion columns this hasn't registered in the national media yet. Also, in an ominous global downturn, Osborne's bizarrely young face is a negative with something of the visceral impact of Duncan Smith's baldness.
Interesting times and - I'm not gloating, but I'm smiling again...

The deafening silence from the shadow Treasury team is worrying, because they have failed to send the government reeling on NR when they should have done so.

It was Gordon Brown who emasculated the regulatory framework and that should have been opposed. Why have they not asked about the Lloyds offer that is referred to in passing? Did it exist and amount to anything? Who released the name of Northern Rock, thus causing the run, and has any action been taken against the person?

As this all took place around the time of the election that never was, why hasn't more play been made of the clearly political motives behind Brown's actions?

We all must hope that NR has a soft landing for many people's sake; Gordon Brown would then be delighted and could point out that Osborne had no viable alternative to offer.

Once again we let the government very largely off the hook.

It's already too late - Osborne has botched it - mentioning lots of new things about it now will just look even more shrill and less credible. Worse, it'll look irresponsible.

A reshuffle is needed ASAP. The best thing to do is to have a new Shadow Chancellor who will make cogent points about "where we are now" with it - that's our best hope to rebuild credibility.

Fallon or Grieve.

Redwood is a bright guy but I think does have "political" problems. I'd like him in the Shadow Cabinet though.

Robert Peston said that the real cost of the Rock will be increased mortgage rates. That is when Joe Public will see the folly of what has happened.

As was said on This Week, last evening- the party must show PASSION and ANGER at what is happening to this country commensurate with being convincing that they can do better.


Osborne could have consulted with other Tory chancellors over a sensible line to take on NR -

Clarke, Lamont, Major, Howe, Lawson.

There's a lot of experience there.

John Redwood has one major asset over and above his intellect, his commercial sense and the fact that he has had to make money rather than feel the comfort of a family trust behind him. He no longer aspires to lead the party. As such, he would be ideal for the role of DC's Chancellor in circumstances where the role cries out for a ruthless custodian of the nation's finances who understands the ordinary voter's tax burden. His blog entries on Northern Rock are and should have been essential reading for our front bench and Treasury spokesmen. George Osborne's talents may be better deployed as party chairman.

"Osborne could have consulted with other Tory chancellors over a sensible line to take on NR -"

Portillo said on This Week that the Shadow Treasury team hadn't consulted them, which if true is truly staggering.

I can't help thinking that were we to have Sir Malcolm Rifkind or Dominic Grieve as Shadow Chancellor
Malcolm Rifkind made it quite clear when he withdrew from the leadership race that the only position in the government he was prepared to accept was Foreign Secretary and that it would be on his terms including on issues such as The War on Terror - he therefore effectively ruled himself out of being part of any government led by Liam Fox, David Davis or David Cameron.

I think we should wake up to the fact that, to-day, nationalisation has become more popular than tax cuts. If Blair/Brown has nationalised Rover it would have been wildly popular. I think Northern Rock has cought the party on one foot, it assumed nationaliation was no longer a starter and, therefore, had no public rescue policy ready. It had better think of one!

One reason why Osborne etal has not done so well is that, as usual, there has been no attempt to address electors as oposed to Westminster. A Tory government would have run the country in a way that this would not happen. A Tory government would not have split the FSA and BoE so the left hand would know what the right hand was doing. A Tory government would have grabbed the Lloyds TSB hand off. A Tory government would have carefully investigated NR before doing anything. The government obviously has little idea what it is doing, it is flying by the seat of its pants, how do you expect an oposition to be in a position to provide a detailed policy?. If Tory spokesmen continually made these points they would have done better but that entails talking to electors rather than Westminster and that seems against party rules.

I must be the only one who watched Question Time and thought Alan Duncan did well. I felt he explained our postion well and held his own. They semed a well informed audience for the most part.

The depressives should take note that while there were the usual audience splits, it did not make for comfortable viewing for Gordon. The statement that it was his fault got the loudest clap.

I am no financial expert but might it be difficult to come up with a thoughful sensible solution when you do not have the details of the companies debts/assetts or its complicated financial structure?

Vince looked good didn't he. 'Let's buy it blind'. Clear for the voter to understand even if it bankrupts the counrty!

I concede that we need to pool the talent and experience here.
If they didn't, they should have and must now.
John Redwood is an informed man and as such deserves respect but the idea that he is electorally acceptable as Chancellor is deluded. I suspect he is not and he realises this.

No northernhousewife you are not the only who one who thought Alan Duncan put up a good explanation on QT. So did I. I help run a Credit Union and have followed this issue from day one. Nonetheless, I did not relate what Alan said with any announced Tory policy. My criticism of Alan's position that we do not have Chapter 11 laws in place in this country. As a floating voter, I say that nationalisation was the least worst option.
I know that the FSA has a duty to look at a Bank's accounts (we send ours in every month) but it may not have been tasked with checking its business model because the legislation (Labour inspired) did not tell it to. If that be so then the Tories have a lever. For the record, I think the Tory position (to try to wrongfoot HMG rather than come up with a cogent solution) was poor. Cable for King!

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