David Cameron Eclipsed? Party horsemen ride abreast in Tory Home Poll of Polls…

Hmmm, those aggregate figures must be skewed because of the amount of polling that’s been done since Nick Clegg’s big night out… For me the best analysis emerging from Tory quarters on where this leaves David Cameron is from Matthew D’Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph:

Cameron’s specific difficulty last week was not so much that he under-performed, but that Clegg stole his act. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who came across as the insurgent, promising the viewers a fresh start after a period of mouldy decline and moral decay. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who communicated a sense of mission – however vague – and what Obama in his campaign (quoting Martin Luther King) called “the fierce urgency of now”.

When Cameron was elected leader of his party in December 2005, it was this spirit that he claimed to embody. He urged all Conservatives to “be the change”, to translate youthful dynamism into political transformation, first of the Tory party, and then of the country. By the time Clegg took the helm of the Lib Dems two years later, it was easy to dismiss him as Cameron Lite. Yet, for 90 minutes on Thursday, it was Clegg who came across as the real thing, the man with the momentum.

And here’s the biting nub of the problem:

Cameron’s specific difficulty last week was not so much that he under-performed, but that Clegg stole his act. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who came across as the insurgent, promising the viewers a fresh start after a period of mouldy decline and moral decay. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who communicated a sense of mission – however vague – and what Obama in his campaign (quoting Martin Luther King) called “the fierce urgency of now”.

When Cameron was elected leader of his party in December 2005, it was this spirit that he claimed to embody. He urged all Conservatives to “be the change”, to translate youthful dynamism into political transformation, first of the Tory party, and then of the country. By the time Clegg took the helm of the Lib Dems two years later, it was easy to dismiss him as Cameron Lite. Yet, for 90 minutes on Thursday, it was Clegg who came across as the real thing, the man with the momentum.

Matt thinks Cameron will learn from this and rally. And I have no doubt that’s true. But I suspect the source of the problem lies further back in the nature of the two year campaign the Tories have been running, mostly against Brown. Like the French guns on the line, they may find they were too fixed in one direction. And now Clegg (and to a lesser extent an exultant Labour party) are spilling round the outside of those fixed defences.

The other problem was articulated on this thread by reader Sammy Morse, lies with the media strategy itself:

The Tories have abandoned carefully a media grid which will have been carefully thought out months ago, and more critically, have stopped pushing their key narrative so they can pump out squeeze lines on the LibDems.

Not only have some of these been delivered in a way that will do some damage to the Tories (e.g. Cameron’s comments in Gloucester yesterday which implied the Tories were as bad as any other politicians and couldn’t be trusted to put the country’s interests first in the event of a hung parliament), but it keeps the lines they need to be getting into the media off the screens and buried at the back of the papers.

Finally, the messages themselves are designed around squeezing a LibDem party trailing in third, but one challenging you for first place.

There is also the problem that the original messages designed to woo the Lib Dem audience have been undermined by some pretty strong anti immigration material filtered into the Ashcroft funded marginal campaigns in the last few weeks. This, I suspect, is having a two fold effect: falsifying the original ‘new liberal Tory’ messaging; and tempting people to look at the candidate formerly known as ‘Cameron lite’ as the genuine article.

And then, of course, Cameron’s not new any more. Neither is Clegg of course, but the media obsession – to the level of comparing the choice of clothes and holiday destination – with the Brown Cameron stand off, means he feels new to the voting public. So how does Cameron legitimately present the change message he’s been pushing for much of his time at the head of the Conservatives?

Finally, back in 1979 Margaret Thatcher came up with an answer to a question everyone was asking: how do you solve two decades of troubled labour relations? Many people did not like her answer and it plunged the country into several years of intense if low level civil strife. But, crucially, it addressed the problem and she was handsomely rewarded at the polls for it.

I suspect that this lack of defined purpose explains some of Cameron’s fragility in the polls. It is not clear what overwhelming problem his project is the best answer to. On many of the issues the Tories have better policy initiatives than their opponents; not least in education. But it is the absence of ‘a big idea’ that’s forcing him to speak in lists of what he can do rather than what he will represent, which will make it difficult to stem the flow from the dyke.

In the absence of a consistently identifiable Tory ‘liberal’, voters may be more inclined to vote for the genuine article.

  • Is there anywhere in the poll that would show party strength in each region?

  • PaddyReilly

    Dear dear dear. Never pay any heed to opinion polls. You don’t know who commissioned them. One thing is certain, incumbent governments lose popularity at a fairly predictable rate, except perhaps when a war starts. Consequently, if the Labour Party has gone a fair way down in its loss of popularity but not all the way, a hung parliament is possible. But a narrow win for Labour and a narrow win for Conservatives are both equally possible.

  • Mick Fealty

    Regional polling is expensive, so I’ve not seen much. Have heard of one post debate poll that showed a surge of blue in Northern Ireland. But I’ve not seen the poll in question, so I cannot say much about its veracity.

    Scotland on Sunday poll suggests that if there is any effect of all of this it is bolstering the status quo for the main pro union parties: http://url.ie/5ss7 The four or five Tory prospects seem to be fading with Cameron’s fortunes down south.

    Jeff calculates just a one seat shift from SNP to Labour.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    When you personalise the campaign like the Tories did by comparing and contrasting leaders and suggesting that Cameron should run the country because he is shinier and glossier than Brown then you can hardly complain when someone comes along who is shinier and glossier than Cameron.

    Mick,

    you cant sneak an appallingly ideological line like the following in without some corroboration “On many of the issues the Tories have better policy initiatives than their opponents; not least in education” . Letting parents undermine the state education sector by encouraging the set up of breakaway schools which will undoubtedly translate into selection by stealth is just old Tory policy dishonestrly dressed up in some new shiny clothes and putting an old style Tory like Michael Gove in charge of this policy is not very clever as he comes acrosss very poorly as a bit of an upper class twit as witnessed on Question Time just straight after Cameron conceded the initiave to Clegg which seemed to be written all across Gove’s unfortunate chops.

  • Mick Fealty
  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick,

    there is and has always been a strong case for education to be more vocational but not sure why we need parental UDI to achieve that?

  • Mick Fealty

    Did you read the link? Or are you just having another argument with yourself? Nice to see you drop the duplicitous flag of convenience! 🙂

  • Mack

    ITWSMNWDIT –

    Remembered your password then?

  • Mick Fealty

    Con, try this for some provisional conclusions from UK Polling report: http://url.ie/5ssh

    Also, there’s this upbeat Tory assessment from Na Bi Dana: http://url.ie/5ssi but I am not sure he’s taking account of the loss of those Lib Dem marginals has both for the Tory gains and the general narrative. I suspect it will bolster some of the flagging core support in Labour heartlands.

    But as he says, there is two more debates and three weeks to go yet.

  • Alias

    Four words sum up Dave’s lack of appeal to British voters: he’s another Tony Blair. The electorate, in their wisdom, don’t want another marketing executive as prime minister. They see someone who is only stocking product lines that his research department tell him will be popular sellers, as if a country could be managed like a branch of Ratners. If he have stayed with traditional Tory values – crime, eurosceptic, free market economics, etc – and showed that he actually beleived in something or had some purpose other than being prime minister then the public would have moved in binary mode from Labour to the Tories rather than repelled by more New Labour under the Tory brand. I suspect the Tories know this and it will be bye-bye Dave and a return to basics. Dave showed his true colours when he backed from over the Lisbon Treaty. The public saw.

  • Mick Fealty

    Iain Martin has been playing with the numbers: http://url.ie/5ssy

  • Sammy Morse

    Have heard of one post debate poll that showed a surge of blue in Northern Ireland.

    Another General Election, another mysterious poll with no attribution, let alone a published methodology or crosstabs, shows a mysterious surge to the Ulster Unionists is selectively quoted to NI media insiders. Remember the mysterious NIO polls allegedly showing all the Ulster Unionist MPs narrowly ahead in 2001 and 2005?

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Unless and until I see it, it’s empty ramping and not worth blogging. And if they really had a poll like that, they’d publish it.

    The old saying is “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I’m not sure how you complete that phrase for fool me three times.

    Just as an aside, I’m not sure even the political media pros realise how much an opinion poll, even one with a sample as small as 300, costs to commission? Various people here sometimes refer to parties’ “private polls”, and while I can just about imagine Ashcrofts millions can buy one or two for UCUNF over the course of a campaign, and the DUP might stretch to one at a pinch, that will be as far as it goes. If even that far.

    Take claims that “we have done a private poll showing we are just 2% behind in Ballyxxxx and can win if we squeeze the XQP” with the dose of salt they so transparently deserve unless they publish the methodology and the cross-tabs. Especially if the specific people mentioned are Willie McCrea, Reg Empey, the Alliance Party and the SDLP.

    As for across the water, either Cameron does something really game changing that resonates with the electorate – and I mean spectacularly game changing, because he needs to get from 32% to 40% in a hurry – and he gets to be Prime Minister; or he does something really game changing that blows up in his face by making him look like a hard-right loony.

    If he potters along with his old game plan, it will do nothing to dent the LibDems who can ride the high publicity that being in a dog-fight for first place in the polls will bring them from now until polling day. The Tories game plan with the LibDems was to say “We hate Brown too and you can’t beat him. Besides, we’re not like old Tories, we have loads of gay friends and love the environment. Don’t waste your vote.” That line transparently does not work if the LibDems are ahead of Labour and neck and neck with the Tories.

    The old adage that when confronted with a choice between conservatives and liberals masquerading as conservatives, the electorate always choose the genuine article surely applies in reverse too?

    Final thought – if these poll numbers hold through the second debate, a few front bench Tories, perhaps mindful of what happened to Chris Patten in 1992, might find themselves suddenly tied to their constituencies. Some of the targets of the LibDem decapitation strategy which dismally failed last time are still vulnerable, and there are a few others: Liam Fox would lose North Somerset on these sorts of figures, for example.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy, Rawnsley’s opening salvo today:

    “There’s a useful aphorism from across the Atlantic. The winners grin; the losers spin. So it has been in the 48 hours since the first British televised leaders’ debate gave an electric jolt to a hitherto low-wattage campaign.”

    James Crabtree asked on Twitter the other day how this was anything but bad for Labour (and not the Tories). My response was the swift disappearance of the LD marginals in the west country.

    I’d say Fox is probably safe enough on current figures, since the pattern in the past has been been for the LDs to come in a few percentage points below their max score in the campaign. But if it goes any higher, then he’s on a wing and prayer.

    I suspect the Tories have known about this pattern longer than the rest of us, since they are polling the marginals. Taunton which has constantly changed hands in recent elections, with majorities never making it into the hundreds, looked completely bereft of Tory posters on Thursday.

    Perhaps the effort was already going on building the defence before ‘the Clegg bounce’?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Events dear Boys Events.

    That Volcano business is shaping up to be an event. And First Secretary Mandelson, Adonis, Jowell, Milleband and West certainly gave the Volcano Ash both “look at us…..we are the government and we are handling an Event/Crisis”

    Certainly all of us would believe that between Calling an Election and Voting….there might be an Event out there that scuppered the best laid plans.
    A major disaster in Afghanistan would be a game changer. A terrorist attack in London. Flash floods in……..wherever. Few would have anticipated an Icelandic volcano would be the Event..or at least MIGHT be.
    No planes for up to a week would be bad. Recurring problems up to 6th May would be a disaster for the Government with ‘elf and safety being ridiculed.
    And God forbid but ANY kind of plane disaster in Europe in the next 18 days will be worse.

    Five Ministers lined up in Downing Street under the Prince of Darkness looks a bit like overkill. But its Election Season and bad reports of Brits Abroad starving in an isolated airport in Wherever might actually change voting behaviour.
    Likewise the British Navy sending landing craft onto beaches in Ibiza is almost Dunquerge like in the imagery.
    The first polls factoring in volcanos will be ineresting.

  • Alias

    An ironic thing about the protest vote (and it can hardly be more than that) going to the Liberals is that a vote for them is effectively a vote to maintain the status quo that the vote was supposed to change. The Tories are just a re-run of New Labour so that rules them out as a change to the status quo. Another ironic thing is that the rejection of the Tories is actually a rejection of New Labour.

    In the UK’s electoral system, all roads lead back to Rome since even Labour is reduced to its hardcore rump of diehard voters who will vote for it because their fathers and grandfathers voted for it and even if the Liberals get more votes than Labour they can’t get more seats than them, so Brown has to be pinning his hopes on a coalition.

    A vote for change then is a vote for no change at all. Perhaps that is fitting when the three parties are interchangeable. And so the UK has finally arrived to where Ireland arrived in the 70s – democracy reduced to a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

    It might be better for the Liberals to back the Tories rather than Labour since it is wiser to give the protest vote the illusion that their vote will bring some change (of faces) rather than to make it so obvious that it brought no change at all. That way, at least, the Liberals won’t face a backlash of betrayed dupes during the next changing of the guard.

  • DC

    Anyone but Brown!

    Ok, I’ll have Nick Clegg thanks.

    Oh dear.

  • Dewi

    It’s the arithmetic of the Tory Lib Dem dynamic that’s fascinating. Tories had 23 LD seats on target list.At anything like these support levels forget them i) and ii) the first casualties of Lib Dem upsurge are a bunch of southern England maginals – 26 of top 40 Lib Dem targets Tory currently.
    Expect some fairly brutal anti European stuff from Cameron imminently…

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Expect some fairly brutal anti European stuff from Cameron imminently… ”

    How does that help him hoover up those libdem tactical votes?

  • Dewi

    “How does that help him hoover up those libdem tactical votes?”
    { don’t think thet are tactical. The LibDems were always getting a debate bounce but people have taken to Clegg…an d to absolutely fair their manifesto had some numbers in it. Amongst English voters, however, mention Europe positively and you slump…

  • Mick Fealty

    It doesn’t Jimmy. That’s my – possibly poorly articulated – point.

    In fact the sight of what I know to be a mild mannered Tory PPC glaring out from the same leaflet actually looks like it was put in the field by the Lib Dems to scare people back into the fold. I would reckon it has had the effect of scaring anyone with a ‘liberal’ bone in their body into voting for the Lib Dem instead. I really would like to get to the bottom of who commissioned it.

    It’s the reason suspect that the Tories centrally actually gave up on the swing voters some time ago. And why I think this is less a blip in the polls and more a case of ‘revealed preference’ in response to a decent performance by Clegg. Dog whistles are for the base, and Team Cameron know that better than anyone. Even a fair few of the Tories in Lib Dem marginals are not the base.

    So much for the new liberal Tory strategy. It appears to have be slung in the trash can weeks, if not months ago.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The one trump card Cameron has left to use against Clegg is Europe. Expect him to get that particular dog whistle out this Thursday.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    CS,

    I’d say trident will be the main area of attack as raising europe will allow Clegg and Brown to remind the public the Tories are deeply split on the issue and to mention Cast Iron Guarantee Number 1 on a referendum on Europe and wouldnt it be nice for Brown or Clegg to mention Cast Iron Guarantee Number 2 regarding Ulster seats – after all if we believe all the spin from the Tories is all about trust and Davey already has 2 broken pledges before he even gets to Downing Street.

  • Garza

    Rupert Murdoch and his little media will going mental lol, love it.

    Wahey Sammy, you’ve changed from your MU status, got bored did you?

  • [quote][i]Events dear Boys Events.

    That Volcano business is shaping up to be an event. And First Secretary Mandelson, Adonis, Jowell, Milleband and West certainly gave the Volcano Ash both “look at us…..we are the government and we are handling an Event/Crisis”[/i] …. Posted by FitzjamesHorse on Apr 19, 2010 @ 01:30 AM[/quote]

    And didn’t they all look like prize pretentious prats, FitzjamesHorse, full of their own delusional self importance.

    And how very odd that Bruiser Brown wasn’t hogging the limelight?

    Although to put things in context …. FFS … it’s only a simple natural volcano erupting, not the End of the Slavery as we know it.

    They must be running out of already all made up news stories to share, which is a crying shame for them, for their own ad lib concoctions are pathetic and render them exposed as frauds in need of a smart script to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes.

  • Garza

    “The one trump card Cameron has left to use against Clegg is Europe. Expect him to get that particular dog whistle out this Thursday. ”

    I’m not sure that is even a trump card CS. Clegg can point to Ken Clarke for example and how the Tories are complete disorganised over Europe, while pointing out its many benefits. Also Cameron will be weary of attacking Clegg too much.

  • Driftwood
  • I’m not sure Trident is a great vote winner for Cameron. It’s expensive, isn’t really independent and it’s not like the Red Army are going to come surging across the North German Plain these days, is it.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Money is scarce and yet Trident is not up for debate.

    Some money is scarcer than other money.

  • Alias

    The EU issue is a good example of why people are disillusioned with British politics. 82% of all regulation during the period of the Labour government originated there, so the laws that regulate the British nation are not devised by them in their national interest and those who make those laws and policies (rather than simply transpose them) are not accountable to British people.

    Democracy is the process of electing people to make decisions that they are no longer able to make since the sovereignty to make those decisions has been transferred to a transnational agency. Democracy is becoming increasingly irrelevant to peoples’ lives in that it changes little other than fiscal budgets with the policies that control those budgets more often than not decided outside of the democratic process.

    However, rather than being presented as an issue that is crucial to the proper functioning of a democracy, this undermining of national democracy is ignored and successfully presented as an issue that only “right-wing nutters” could be concerned about which results in “disarray” in those parties that contain MPs that believe in the value of a sovereign state and a sovereign nation and don’t think these powers should be given away.

    It remains true that nobody in the UK voted to give their sovereignty away to an unelected foreign cabal and that nobody in the UK would vote for it if they were ever allowed to have a referendum on the issue.

    The Europhilia of the Liberals is at odds with the euro scepticism of the British people and that is why the vote for the Liberals can be little more than a token protest vote.

  • Alias

    “It remains true that nobody in the UK voted to give their sovereignty away to an unelected foreign cabal and that nobody in the UK would vote for it if they were ever allowed to have a referendum on the issue.”

    Err, somebody would vote for it obviously… but they would be a minority of quislings, dupes, those who think the EU is needed to tackle the problem of volcanos, and the political class that benefits from thousands of extra well-paid career opportunities that would vanish if the UK exited the EU.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “82% of all regulation during the period of the Labour government originated there,”

    It has also generated 153% of made up statistics.

  • Alias

    Then there is a lot of folks making them up. The fact that the general population is ignorant of how much law is EU law – and how much control the cabal has over their lives – is a testament to the europhile media. 😉

    The Germans did the study and it came out at 79%, whereas Libertas reserch has it at 82%, and Open Europe also came in at 82%.

    Dan Hannan says it is 84%:

    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/03/interview-with-daniel-hannan.html

    Dave Cameron says that “Almost half of all the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU”.

    http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/05/David_Cameron_Fixing_Broken_Politics.aspx

  • Alias

    That part of Cameron’s speech is worth quoting, since it makes the same points that were his undoing by ignoring them:

    “But the tragic truth today is that no matter how much we strengthen Parliament or hold government to account…

    …there will still be forces at work in our country that are completely unaccountable to the people of Britain.

    People and organisations that have huge power and control over our daily lives and yet which no citizen can actually get at.

    Almost half of all the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU.

    And since the advent of the Human Rights Act, judges are increasingly making our laws.

    The EU and the judges – neither of them accountable to British citizens – have taken too much power over issues that are contested aspects of public policy…

    …and which should therefore be settled in the realm of democratic politics.

    It’s no wonder people feel so disillusioned with politics and Parliament when they see so many big decisions that affect their lives being made somewhere else.

    So a progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain and from judges to the people.

    We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU, negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in Parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending.

    And we will introduce a British Bill of Rights to strengthen our liberties, spell out the extent and limit of rights more clearly, and ensure proper democratic accountability over the creation of any new rights.”

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Dan Hannan says it is 84%:”

    Oh well in that case…

  • Alias

    I know what I did wrong, Jimmy. I wrote “during the period of the Labour government.” I shouldn’t have linked Labour to euro-submissiveness and thereby unwittingly raised the ire of that party’s supporters. 😉

    I don’t think anyone knows definitively now much new regulation originates within the EU since it is next to impossible to classify it. One Directive, for example, can spawn an awful lot of national law in order to comply with it. But when it is more than 10% then it detrimentally impacts on the sovereignty of a nation.

  • Dev

    Mick, that Policy Exchange rpt you quote in the Tele link provided, is that the same Policy Exchnage that suggests people in Sunderland & Liverpool give up the ghost & move to Oxford? Maybe she thinks 16 & 17 yr olds in the North will be too busy packing their bags for the big move south to concentrate in school …

    Just because YOU believe the Tories have better policies on education, & the think tank with extremely close links to the Tories agrees, does not therefore mean that they in fact do have better policies than the other two parties.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Sammy M,

    trident is vote winner because the Liberal Democrats policy is muddled on the subject and I suspect that the Plain People of Britain like the idea of being able to be dine at the top military table.

    The other vote winner for the Tories is the spectre of the hung parliament which again the Plain People of Britain have a natural dislike for preferring instead the smack of firm government and of ocurse Davey will try to suggest that a vote for the LibDems and you will get El Gordo for another 5 years.

    So Davey to emphasise both a hung parliament and trident and how dreadful Brown is but stray away from the potential own-goal which is Europe.

  • Driftwood
  • In passing (as one does), am I correct in thinking that ConHome have suddenly mislaid the running “poll of polls”?

    If so, can anyone not think of a reason why?

  • Oh, and by the way, armchair field marshals please note:

    Like the whole “independent” nuclear deterrent charade since Blue Streak was cancelled in 1960, Trident was never there to frighten the Soviets. It was to save face with the French, and keep the Americans on side.

    Cancel Trident and the UK can have a foreign policy again.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dev, now you are playing the man. Alison Wolf’s case is pretty straightforward enough to be challengeable in itself. Go on, give me an argument? You know you want! 😉

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    “nuclear deterrent charade”

    This issue has little to do with the merits or de-merits of the case but rather with how the Plain People of Britain view the country’s role in the world and how easily that can be manipulated by Cameron or indeed by Labour.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick,

    Tory policy on the setting up of new schools by parents sounds like a dogs dinner of a half thought out policy wrapped up in some mumbo-jumbo about power to the people and presented by an intellectual Gove who is not suited to public interaction.

    Do share how you think that a few energized and driven parents in a few areas are going to change the life chances of the vast majority of British kids? Far better surely to design policies to raise the bar for everyone through proper investment and enforcing standards.

  • Mick Fealty

    In fact I do think there is scope for diversification of schools and their management. But that is not a Tory policy alone. Which is one of their big problems.

    The Danes have operated this kind of diversification at the edge of their state system for years: both through their efterskole and folk high school systems. There is nothing wrong per se with unions and other mutuals and not for profits getting involved as they do in both Denmark and Sweden.

    I suspect the take up will be small to begin with, not least because the capacity to facilitate such formations and keep a watch on their standards, etc.. is simply not there at the moment.

    May be I just have less faith than you in the one size fits all approach… But in my experience the British problem is that the articulate middle classes nearly always find a way to ‘game’ the best resources.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick,

    “May be I just have less faith than you in the one size fits all approach… But in my experience the British problem is that the articulate middle classes nearly always find a way to ‘game’ the best resources. ”

    The kids with the motivated parents always get by as you say and have often just opted out to the private sector, the real difficulty is dragging up the level of the under performing schools by imposing realistic goals and standards to go along with the investment.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit @ 10:08 PM:

    You implicitly concur with my point: “the Plain People of Britain” cannot be told the truth, perhaps do not want the facts of political life presented to them, and patronise media complicit in perpetuating this “charade”. If so, fifty years on, Dean Atcheson lives and breathes: Britain has indeed lost an Empire and not yet found a role.

    In short, “the Plain People of Britain” are not yet fit for Home Rule.

    As an aside, I think you will find your phrase reaches back, way beyond the Great O’Nolan (who repatriated it in 1940), to a context unconsciously and ironically parallel to yours, if less mocking, referring to the level-headed, clear-thinking, realist religious refugees of colonial America:

    They were plain people of the middle rank of English life. They were Quakers, and remained so for more than a century.

    [D. W. Bartlett, Presidential Candidates iv. 118 (1859)].

    Or, as the OED’s other citation, the Chicago Tribune of 25 Jan 1948, has it:

    The Plain People, as they are known, won’t use automobiles or tractors, have no telephones, plumbing or political parties.

    Unconscious irony, indeed.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    MR,

    my point is that the Plain People of Britian will probably not be swayed by logic which is what I thought you were suggesting also I think the LibDems policy is a bit muddled which also makes it a fertile ground for attacking them.

    Interesting background on the “Plain People”. It does seem to capture the idea of large swathe of (Irish) people who continue in the manner as they have always done unmoved by the fashions, political or otherwise, which wash over them.

  • “Plain People of Britian” …. should that not read “Great British Public” ? 🙂

    In the first debate both Cameron and Brown were constantly agreeing with Clegg.
    It will be difficult for Cameron to now go after Clegg in the next debate. As at some stage or other he is bound to contradict what he said about Cleggs points from the first debate.