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Public opinion not behind 42 days - ICM poll

Stuart Weir (Cambridge, Democratic Audit): Gordon Brown is on shakier ground than he thinks on 42 days pre-charge detention for people suspected of terrorist offences. On the eve of the Haltemprice and Howden by-election, a new ICM poll conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust shows most people (60%) think terrorist suspects should be held without charge for no more than the current limit - 4 weeks, or 28 days.

Poll opinions

Jon Bright (London, OK): As the Economist dryly noted at the beginning of the month, Britain's Asians must spend a lot of time responding to surveys. The opinion poll is a mainstay of journalism at the moment, and almost all of them are asking about Asians - and Islam in particular - in the hope of generating a headline about how inclusive/intolerant we all are. Today's FT has a classic example. "UK more suspicious of Muslims than America and rest of EU" we are told. The article then reports that only 59% of Britons "thought it possible to be both a Muslim and a citizen of their country", adding that "this is a smaller proportion than in France, Germany, Spain, Italy or the US".

Out to Luntz

Anthony Barnett (London, OK): One has to chuckle. The excellent ePolitix has just completed a survey of more than a thousand of its well-connected users and "only 15 per cent think the Conservative leader will make it to Number 10 - while 62 per cent think he never will". This judgement reinforces the current running poll of polls in UKPollingReport. There is many a slip, of course and Guido Fawks has placed £50 of his ill-gotten gains on Brown losing the next election citing the coming economic crash. It seems to me that this is a case of GF projecting his pyromania onto the voters. If the economic cycle nose-dives, most people will stick with Brown 'for fear of worse' - after all, even die-hard Tories may think twice about putting the country into the hands of an inexperienced Tory environmentalist if world capitalism is crashing around us. Cameron has positioned himself as a luxury item.

Guardian's latest poll misleading

Stuart Weir (Cambridge, Democratic Audit): The Guardian reported ICM poll results on 23 June showing to no-one's great surprise that education, the NHS and withdrawal from Iraq were people's priorities for a Brown government. They would have been my priorities too, plus remedying Labour's shameful neglect of social housing. However the Guardian went on to contrast these choices with the low vote - just 1 per cent - for 'constitutional reform', as though this were a meaningful comparison. The fact is that the public has long voiced dissatisfaction with the way we are governed in the UK. Large majorities of people support a wide range of specific reforms, as the Rowntree Reform Trust's 'State of the Nation' series of polls since 1992 has shown. For example, broadly three quarters of the population has consistently agreed that Britain should have a written constitution; roughly the same proportion believe in a Bill of Rights which protects social and economic rights alongside civil liberties. I am afraid that the national press reflect the impatience of a political class which has a Panglossian view of our pre-democratic governing arrangements and likes to portray those who want democratic change as nerdy members of some Hampstead set. Yet these majorities are made up of working class people more than professionals, and of most people who live north of Watford.

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