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Confidence in Tony Blair slumps to all-time low

London Telegraph | January 29, 2007 
George Jones and Graeme Wilson

Public confidence in Tony Blair's government has slumped to an all-time low as Labour battles with the crisis at the Home Office and Cabinet revolts over gay adoption, the latest YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph shows today.

Despite the collapse in trust, the Prime Minister insisted yesterday that the last 18 months had been his "most productive" in office.

In an interview for BBC1's Politics Show, Mr Blair tried to shrug off questions about his crumbling authority following last week's Cabinet revolt over gay adoption by insisting that he will still be in Number 10 for the Scottish and Welsh elections in May.

However, Mr Blair was hit by fresh cash-for-peerages allegations yesterday after it was reported that the police had uncovered a handwritten note by the Prime Minister.

It is understood the note acknowledged the efforts of the 12 wealthy supporters who handed the party a total of £14 million of secret loans. A Downing Street spokesman said: "This is completely wrong. There isn't any such document." The scale of the crisis Mr Blair faces was laid bare by the YouGov poll, which shows that only 21 per cent of voters "approve of the government's record to date" the lowest since Mr Blair came to power. In January 1998, for instance, the comparable figure was 53 per cent.

Only 26 per cent of voters say they are "satisfied" with Mr Blair as Prime Minister, compared with 66 per cent in early 1998. The poll shows Labour heading for elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and 312 English district councils, with its support hovering just above 30 per cent.

The Conservatives on 38 per cent (up one point since December) have opened up a seven point lead over Labour on 31 (down two) and the Liberal Democrats trailing on 18 (up one).

David Cameron is still unable to pass the 40 per cent threshold needed to gain power, as voters look to alternatives such as the Nationalists, the UK Independence Party or even the BNP.

In yesterday's interview, Mr Blair declared he was in the "middle" of a packed agenda of reforms in health, education and law and order and refused point-blank to endorse Gordon Brown as his successor.

Dismissing suggestions that he has become a lame duck premier, Mr Blair even compared himself to Bill Clinton, the former US President, whom he argued had come close to securing a Middle East peace deal in his last days in the White House. He conceded that the last 18 months had been "the most difficult" since he came to power 10 years ago, but he said: "As a platform of change for the country it's in many ways the most productive period of internal domestic reform."

Asked why he will not stand down now and let Mr Brown get on with the job, he replied: "You know, I want to finish what I've started, if I can put it like that. And at the present time, there are things that I'm right in the middle of doing, whether it's health service reform of the City Academy programme or the changes we're making to the Home Office... I'm getting on with the job."


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