Voters' anger at war on the cheap

JUDGING from the general air of depression hanging over friends, relations and colleagues, I can well believe that the Conservatives are streets ahead in the opinion polls and are probably on course for a comfortable victory in Thursday by-election in Norwich North.

Graham Dines

JUDGING from the general air of depression hanging over friends, relations and colleagues, I can well believe that the Conservatives are streets ahead in the opinion polls and are probably on course for a comfortable victory in Thursday by-election in Norwich North.

What I find hard to imagine is that Labour is just 1% above the Liberal Democrats. While there is little enthusiasm for another five years of Labour government, I can find no evidence of a stampede to the welcoming arms of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.

But even if one of the latest opinion polls is right and I'm wrong, Labour would still have around three times as many MPs as the Lib Dems after the next election because of the innate unfairness of first-past-the-post.


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The important data from the two polls as far as David Cameron is concerned is that in the YouGov survey for the Sunday Times, the Tories are above the psychologically important 40% mark for the first time since May. Given that the Tories always outpoll in general elections their opinion poll rating - even in 1997 - Cameron would be heading for Downing Street with a more than comfortable parliamentary majority.

Details of the two polls: YouGov (Sunday Times): Con 42% (up 2% from last month), Labour 25% (+ 1%), Lib Dems 18% (unchanged). ComRes (Independent on Sunday): Con 38% (up 2%), Labour's 23% (down 2) and the Lib Dems' 22% (up 3).

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YouGov found that Labour had been hit by controversy over Gordon Brown's resourcing of the British military force in Afghanistan, where 17 soldiers have died since the start of July. Some 60% of those questioned agreed Mr Brown was trying to fight the war “on the cheap,” against 20% who thought he was doing his best to provide the equipment needed by troops.

VETERAN Tory Euro MP Edward McMillan-Scott has been suspended from his party's new grouping with allies from eastern European because he stood for, and was elected, one of the Strasbourg assembly's vice-presidents.

What a cad! The Conservatives had agreed that Poland's Michael Kaminski should be their vice-presidential nominee. McMillan-Scott scuppered that and as the European Conservatives and Reformist group threatened to disintegrate, another UK MEP Timothy Kirkhope withdrew his candidature as delegation leader to allow the appointment of Mr Kaminski to the second best position.

As the tears flowed, East of England Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy accused his fellow Euro MPs of panicking. “A lack of unity demonstrated a real weakness, and one which we must now overcome if we have a fighting chance of being taken seriously, both at home and in Europe.”

Nevertheless, Mr Sturdy still supports David Cameron's decision to pull the Tories from the federalist EPP and “I share in his vision of creating, promoting and solidifying a much needed Euro-realist opposition in the European Parliament.”

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