“There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” observed Oscar Wilde. His words have not been lost on the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, or their pals in the Tory Party, as this week has brought a ramping-up of Labour bashing – as usual, much is dumped directly on Mil The Younger – together with keeping schtum about the real reasons for it.
Everything had been going well for Young Dave and his jolly good pals, with the economy finally showing signs of recovery, until Sayeeda Warsi threw in the towel and reminded everyone what an elitist shower the PM and his circle of like-minded cronies really are. Miliband then performed another of his well calculated moves and broke with Labour’s previously uncritical support of Israel.
What was the result of all this? Ah well. If you read the product of the Murdoch, Rothermere, Barclay Brothers or Desmond press, you may not have noticed that the Tories have suddenly found their poll ratings sliding badly. But sliding is exactly what they are doing right now, so the party’s HQ has deployed what it believes to be a tried and trusted weapon – telling anyone who will listen to “look over there”.
This was accomplished by selectively quoting from responses to Labour’s recent policy review. “‘Pathetic’, ‘Catastrophic’, ‘Bland’ – and that’s just what Labour Party members think of Labour’s ‘Policy Review’” they told eagerly, following up with “Mutiny in weak Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet has now spread to Labour’s grassroots – in a big way!” As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
There was more: “Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas said dead hand Miliband would stop any interesting ideas – Labour members agree” told Party HQ. The Maily Telegraph said “Ed Miliband's 'weak leadership' is swing voters' biggest concern ... research shows Voters are becoming increasingly ‘frustrated’ with the Labour leader and are ‘not aware’ of his party's summer offensive, research has found”.
Yeah, see, those rotten lefties are rubbish, so vote Tory! What none of them wanted to let slip was that the latest ICM poll, which had registered a one point Tory lead last time round, was now showing Labour a whole 7% ahead. And, as Mike Smithson at Political Betting observed, “Based on its record since the mid 90s ICM is regarded as the ‘gold standard’ pollster”. That means it’s serious.
And what was yet more serious was a similar reverse from the latest Populus online poll, which had also previously shown the Tories one point ahead. This, too, has produced what is known as a “crossover”, to now give a 4% lead for Labour. That should worry anyone in the Blue Team. Labour polling high 30s per cent is getting into serious overall majority territory. So their press pals are keeping quiet.
Not, you understand, that they favour one party over another. Perish the thought!