There is a new YouGov poll reported tonight in The Sun:
Conservative 41% (down 1%)
Labour 34% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 15% (up 1%)
The changes are so small as to be statistically insignificant from the last YouGov poll reported in the Daily Telegraph before Christmas.
UPDATE: The excellent site run by Anthony Wells has this article on the poll.
I am staggered at how quickly Labour’s economic policies are unravelling. Today the Bank of England cut interest rates to just 1.5%, the lowest level since the Bank’s foundation in 1694. Will this work? I very much doubt it. Many mortgage companies have reduced their rates to the minimum they are prepared to go, so I doubt that this cut will be passed on in many cases. The real impact will be felt by savers who have seen base rates fall from 5% last autumn to today’s 1.5%. For those that rely on income from their savings it will mean a huge cut in their spending power and thus work counter to the Bank and government’s intentions.
Labour likes to characterise people with savings as “the wealthy”; the reality is that many are pensioners who have been prudent and saved all their lives in order to supplement their meagre state pension. Others are people who have sold their houses to fund the cost of their care in their autumn years.
A further reason why this interest rate cut won’t work is that one of the biggest problems for business at present is not the cost of borrowing but the inability to obtain a loan from the banks. The bank bail-out didn’t work in this respect, just as the 2.5% VAT cut made no difference at a time of “50-75% off” sales.
Unemployment is already rising rapidly; Woolworths are shedding 27,000 jobs; Marks and Spencer announced 1,200 to go yesterday; today Nissan UK stated that a quarter of its workforce or 1,200 jobs will go; Zavvi’s Administrators announced 22 store closures and clothing firm Viyella also called in Adminstrators.
The Chancellor has already indicated that his previous suggestion that the second half of this year would see the start of a recovery is pie in the sky. House prices are continuing their nose dive and even the Guardian has a piece admitting that Gordon Brown’s inspired decision to sell off much of our gold reserves lost the Exchequer about £5bn.
I hope that Brown and Darling will listen to David Cameron and George Osborne who have proposed practical solutions to tackle the real problems. The National Loans Guarantee Scheme would effectively underwrite private sector loans, in the way that the Export Credit Guarantee Department already underwrites credit granted to some developing countries that want to buy British goods. The scrapping of the taxation on interest on savings accounts for basic rate tax-payers would also help those who have put something aside for their old age. And the great thing is that the cost of these proposals would be a fraction of Labours plans to date.
Labour are now thrashing around without much of a clue what to do. Darling has all the credibility of his namesake in the Black Adder series, while the author of the credit bubble, the debt mountain and the house price boom (one Gordon Brown), sits in 10 Downing Street waiting for the next opinion poll with mounting trepidation and vanishing finger nails.
Meanwhile in the real world thousands of individuals are losing their jobs and their houses.
In the midst of all the doom and gloom of the credit crunch another British invention is about to steal a march on its US rivals. Bromsgrove based firm Elonex is about to start selling mini-laptop PCs for just £99. The “net-book” type concept is not new but the combination of a handy size and low price is. The plan is that Next and Marks and Spencer will begin retailing these next month.
The gadget has just 2GB of memory but is able to handle email, photos, word processing and surf the internet. The screens are just 7 inches wide and therefore able to fit easily into a brief case or hand bag more easily than a laptop.
My only fear is that they will also be competing against products like the I-phone which are small and have all the extra features like games and a camera that you expect from a mobile phone nowadays. But I wish Elonex every success.