Monday, February 18, 2008

It's all about credibility

The Northern Rock crisis has haunted Alastair Darling and Gordon Brown despite it being a problem that is not of their making. The current problem is though that the prime minister and his Chancellor have failed to be seen to act in a determined and proactive way. I do not suggest that their actions are not the result of careful weighing up of the options and thinking through the possible strategies and their outcomes, the problem is that the communication seems to be failing to make them appear credible. Thus, while Darling et al may (or may not) be in control, Osborne's comments that he has "no credibility" as chancellor and is now "politically a dead man walking" may well have more resonance than Darling's response that it was "cynical opportunism with a pretty thin veneer of abuse". The Sunday Times interpreted poll results to create the headline 'Alistair Darling must go, say voters'. The Yougov poll shows that 57% of respondents think Brown is doing a bad job; 31% said that Cameron and Brown could be most trusted to raise their standard of living (only 25% said the same of Brown & Darling), and 44% think Darling should be replaced. Regardless of the caveats related to opinion polls, it seems Brown and darling have lost the one unique selling point Labour had, the credibility that comes with managerial competence: is there a way back?

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