The Sunday papers would have made depressing reading for occupants of the government benches. Both the News Of The World and the Sunday Times carried polls under headlines which speak for themselves: "Tories 15 Year High" and "Support For Labour Hits 25-Year Low" respectively.
The detailed responses to ICM's poll for the NOTW are not yet available, but those given to YouGov, which ran the poll for the Times, make for fascinating reading.
The voting intentions themselves are a stark indication of weariness after nearly eleven years under the Labour yoke, with an appalling nadir of 27% for the government as against 43% for the Conservatives and a deservedly limp 16% for the Liberal Democrats.
Delve into the detail, however, and you find not only frustration with a tired-looking incumbent party, but a clear feeling that tax and spend politics has now been comprehensively tried, and has dismally failed:
- 60% agreed that "taxes can be cut without public services suffering because it is perfectly possible to run our public services more efficiently", twice those who thought that "In practice tax cuts that lead to less money being spent on the public services would mean that our public services suffer".
- 67% of respondents said that taxes in Britain are "Too high; the Government should tax less and spend less".
- 77% said they supported "Requiring everyone claiming incapacity benefit to attend a "work-focussed [sic] interview" to check whether they should continue to receive the benefit".
In the 1990s, Tony Blair and others talked a lot about a "new kind of politics" which they called the "Third Way". This was supposed to mean striking a balance between supporting free enterprise and working to ensure social justice.
In practice, of course, what it meant was Labour Lite: not delivering a knockout blow to the productive, private sector of the economy as in previous socialist episodes, but rather strangling it slowly with the dead hand of the state.
Being more subtle than the smash-and-grab of earlier Labour eras, it took people longer to see the problem, but now that it has been recognised Labour Lite, like its more rugged predecessors, is dead.
Britain has at last realised that the Third Way - insofar as it ever really existed - was a cul-de-sac.