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Why the polls are narrowing

Throughout 2010 there has been a relatively steady pattern of opinion polls showing a narrowing of the Conservative lead.

The latest poll by Ipsos Mori in the Daily Telegraph shows the lead down to just five points, and for the first time, under a uniform national swing, Labour would now be the largest party in a hung parliament.

With the recent unsavoury episode involving the National Bullying Helpline starting to fade from the memory, and the more recent apparent revelations of infighting suggested by the Chancellor, startled Tories are flooding the internet with suggestions that (surely) all the pollsters must be wrong.

The unscientific evidence that I am picking up on the doorsteps suggests to me that in fact the polls are reflecting exactly what we are finding.

At a time of national crisis, do you look to the party that surefootedly guided the world towards salvation when the fire was at it’s hottest, or do you trust a party that still hasn’t decided if it stands for cuts now or stable repayment of the deficit?

Do you trust a party that has shown it’s commitment to public services through record investment in schools and hospitals or the party that blames too much government (public services) for the financial crisis caused by their greedy friends in the city?

Do you support the party that ensured not a single penny was lost by British savers and that no British banks went bust, or the party that wanted Northern Rock to crash but had changed their mind by the time Bradford and Bingley went down?

As people face what they realise will be a key decision in the whole future of the country, I don’t pretend that I find no reservations about Labour; that suddenly the scales have fallen from the eyes of the great British public and that people want Gordon Brown sat on their sofa after Sunday dinner. But when the big decisions need to be faced, more people are increasingly saying, ‘I’m not sure I like you lot, but at least I know what I’m getting’.

Cameron and the Tories are desperate to get to the election without being exposed on policy. That’s why every opportunity to talk about public enquiries concerning Number 10 bullying or the state of dress of the nations schoolgirls will have Cameron rushing out to make a quote. It’s when the big decisions are needed that he suddenly gets a little camera-shy.

So what of the leaders debates? Surely media savvy DC will wisecrack his way to victory over the clunky Labour leviathan.

Not at all, because for once, it won’t just be enough to say what’s wrong for DC. People will demand to know what he’s going to do, what his big idea is, and then he will finally have to commit to some policy ideas. And every time he has been thrust uncomfortably into that position he has stuttered and fallen. From grammar schools to bank bailouts; from married couples allowance to government spending, from selling us our own banks at a cut price deal to the level of salary needed to have your tax credits stopped; these Tories haven’t got it worked out, haven’t done their sums, the truth is, these Tories aren’t actually very good at all.

So it is time for Labour to find our confidence. To realise ourselves what the polls and the punters are telling us. That they are ready to take a second look at Labour and that it doesn’t need a long hard look at these Tories to see that all that glisters is not gold. It is time to realise, it really is ‘Game on’!

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
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