The boredom factor

Way back last December I did some musing about why Gordon Brown would be a liability as Labour leader. I wrote:

Boredom is the elephant in the room of British politics. The electorate is, in the main, entirely uninterested in politics. It complains about the government, of course, but in the main it is hard to stir up electors on ideological or policy grounds. They put up with the Tories, for example, for 18 years, and eventually threw them out not because the party was intellectually and morally bankrupt (as we pointy-headed intellectuals fondly imagine), but basically because people had become tired of seeing all those old faces trotting out the same old story.

Now spool forward four years to 2009. In the Labour corner will be dull, monotonic, dark-suited, Homburg-hatted Brown rabbitting on about the timing of the economic cycle, the importance of means-tested benefits and how he was right about pensions all along. Yawn, zzzzz…. For the Tories, there will be a young, smooth-talking snake-oil salesman named Cameron. Could this be the nightmare scenario that Blair foresees, and is determined to avoid?

Now comes this report of a survey commissioned by the Guardian in advance of next week’s Labour party Conference.

The scale of the challenge facing Gordon Brown as Labour’s likely next leader is revealed today by a Guardian/ICM poll showing that voters believe David Cameron would make a more effective prime minister and that Britain will be better off if Labour loses the next election.

As activists prepare to head to Manchester for the party’s annual conference, beginning on Sunday, the poll suggests voters may be tired of Labour: 70% said they agreed with the phrase it was “time for change”, if there were a general election tomorrow, and only 23% agreed with the phrase “continuity is important, stick with Labour”.