According to YouGov, 51% of respondents think that David Cameron is doing ‘Fairly well’ or ‘Very well’, compared to 57% who think Gordon Brown is doing ‘Fairly badly’ or ‘Very badly’. And not unusually for the Lib Dems, nearly half of respondents ‘don’t know’ how Nick Clegg is doing :-)
Significantly, David Cameron and George Osborne now lead Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling on who people trust to raise their family’s standard of living, by six points. In fact all the latest economic indicators show the Cameron/Osborne double-act out-performing their rivals. I say significantly because the economy has always been a winning issue for Labour, and because this is now changing.
So what of it? Well, History tells us that the economy can make or brake governments. Northern Rock probably isn’t on the scale of Black Wednesday (1992) or the IMF crisis (1976), but it comes close and could come a lot closer. ‘Nation Rock’, as it is now dubbed, looks set to become a horrible nightmare for the government.
More generally this isn’t a good time for Labour to lose economic credibility. On the brink of a recession, they need to look more credible than ever. Instead they have Alistair Darling.
Lastly, George Osborne appears to be coming into his own after much mocking in the past. Crucially, in arguing that Northern Rock should now be closed for business rather than compete unfairly with commercial rivals, Osborne finds himself on the right side of business opinion. Also, his appointment of Geoffrey Howe to lead the party’s new tax review, will go down nicely in the City.