Alex Massie

The Wisdom of Crowds

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The extent to which one considers the general public an uncannily perceptive bunch or a gathering of witless, no-good know-nothings naturally correlates with the degree to which the public endorses any given opinion one holds oneself.

That being so, it's obvious that British voters are smarter than many of the pundits paid to interpret and analyse the latest froth and nonsense emanating from the Westminster village. That is to say, the public seems to agree with me: Gordon Brown's is not a magician, far less a miracle worker.

Today's Guardian/ICM poll reports that the government's response to the international financial crisis has not impressed the public. Or rather, the public is so sour on Labour that it's not prepared to grant Brown a reprieve even if he's perceived to be upping his game. Six in ten voters say the government has responded quite well, but only 13% of punters are more likely to vote Labour as a result. 27% say they are less likely to vote Labour and 60% say it makes no difference at all.

No wonder, then, that the Tories are unchanged on 42% with Labour also unchanged on 30% and the Tories still hold a slight lead when asked which party is better-equipped to handle economic matters.

Yes, of course it's only one poll. But still, El Gordo has bestrode the headlines for the best part of a month and done all he can to present himself as an economic superhero saving not just Britain but the world itself. In this he has been helped by friendly - even, at times, sycophantic - media coverage and what does it all amount to? A shrug of the shoulders and a bitter, begrudging public asking Is that all you've got?

By "bitter" and "begrudging" of course, I mean "unusually perspicacious".

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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