Luke Akehurst divines from the entrails that, following recent events, Labour voters are begging Blair to stay on for the next election and that he is now more popular than Brown in every key demographic.
Some of this is just plain bad analysis – the data sub-sets that Luke is relying on are very small. If we are to believe them, the Lib Dems are now scoring support of 43% among 25-34 year-olds, which would be rather more interesting than any of the facts he mentions – if it meant anything.
Previous ICM polls on Brown/Blair do not have breakdowns by party allegiance, so it may well have long been the case that Labour supporters have been more pro-Blair than the rest of the population.
And ICM’s breaks do not separate out Scotland or Wales – where Brown has recently had big leads over Blair, a pertinent fact given the small matter of May’s devolved elections.
The other point they ignore is that Blair is still deeply unpopular with the general public – a majority want him out before May and his ratings are only marginally less abysmally bad than they were before the recent spate of resignations.
This is strange because Blairites are usually banging on at us to stop talking to our core vote and look to the target vote instead. This rule is evidently suspended when it turns out that swing voters don’t actually agree with them.
It also worth pointing out that perhaps the cause of the recent drop in Brown’s ratings is that the Blairite diehards have spent the intervening period spinning against Brown to a receptive right-wing press. Perhaps they think that making Blair marginally less despised at the expense of Brown is clever. But they are damaging Labour’s likely next leader and our electoral chances with him.
But the ultimate problem with this narrative is where it ends. Is there a better alternative candidate? There is no polling evidence that anyone else would do better, as Stuart Bruce has previously conceded. The problem, in fact, is as much to do with Cameron as it is Brown. But some Blairites seem keener to attack the latter than the former.
We seem to be heading for a vicious circle of Blairite spin where they attack Brown, so he becomes less popular, so that they then attack him for not being an election winner, thus making him less popular and they can attack him again, presumably until we do lose the election and they say “we told you so”.
Is this a scorched earth strategy? Unless we start hearing something positive we are entitled to suspect so.