What do we make of this?
The Com Res survey in the Independent is fascinating for two reasons. The first is that it confirms that the bounce in Labour support is now over. I would direct you to Anthony Wells’s masterly summary here as to the reasons for this. Put briefly, Labour’s support has tracked very closely the levels of economic optimism in the country. The recapitalisation of the banks was spun by Labour, and reported more or less uncritically by the media, as the answer to the economic crisis. It wasn’t, and this is now becoming ever more apparent. Labour’s fortunes will slide with the economy.
And if you think that’s bad news for Brown, take a look at this from the Com Res:
But asked how they would vote if the Tories committed themselves to a lower level of public spending than Labour and to try not to raise taxes – Mr Cameron's current policy – 49 per cent said Tory, 32 per cent Labour and 11 per cent the Liberal Democrats.
There was a similar result when people were asked how they would vote if Labour committed itself to higher public spending than the Tories and admitted it was likely to mean an increase in some personal taxes – Mr Brown's current position. The figures were: Tory 48 per cent, Labour 30 per cent, Liberal Democrats 13 per cent.
This is, explicitly, the policy difference between the parties at present – and it is a divide that is currently planned to form the basis of Labour’s message. You can bet your life too that this is a message that Cameron and the Tories will force home at every opportunity. Gordon Brown has planned every electoral campaign as a dichotomy between increased spending with Labour, or Tory cuts. What’s he going to do now?