THE BLOG

Ignore the polls, there's only one politician in the UK who has the most important ingredient for victory...

24/03/2015 14:26 GMT | Updated 24/05/2015 10:59 BST

I grew up in Glasgow but work throughout the UK, so I have a chance to see how people talk about politics in different parts of the country.

No politician's agenda is respected everywhere. There are parts of the country where each party leader is a hero and the rest are pariahs. Most people think their friends and colleagues hold opinions which represent the country. They don't.

But around the UK as a whole, there's only one politician who has caught the mood of the United Kingdom right now more than any other.

Consider the Tories. In 2010, they stuck with the message about 'Gordon Brown's debt.' Since then they have talked about the need to cut spending. But that's not a popular idea any more, and they know it. Since 2010, according to the British Social Attitudes Survey, the number of people who want higher taxes and higher spending has gone up.

And hardly anyone told the survey taxes and spending should be cut. So when the Tories say they'll cut income tax, they're going against the public mood.

It's a similar story when it comes to making more cuts. One poll showed that more people think more cuts aren't necessary, or were never necessary, than think they are.

That just leaves the Tories with the economy. Their plan is pretty simple: go round the country repeating the message that they have a long-term economic plan (really?) and that it's working. But even on this they have a problem: many people simply don't believe it. And the people who don't believe it the most are the kind of people who are thinking about voting UKIP - the kind of people whose votes the Tories need.

Of course, the Tories have always been seen as the party of the rich. But it is likely to be more damaging to them this time than ever before. The last seven years has seen more scandals concerning the rich or big companies than did the nineties or the noughties. Starting with the financial crisis itself, then PPI, LIBOR, the FOREX scandal, the energy companies not passing on savings to their customers and lately the HSBC tax avoidance scandal.

That is why, when the Tories hold their black and white ball, as they did the other week, it just reinforces how out of touch they are. When the Prime Minister and the Chancellor say, as they did a few days afterwards, that opponents of austerity should 'stop bleating,' the caricature is complete.

Labour, on the other hand, have caught the mood.

The issue people are most worried about is the NHS. Five years into austerity and it is in crisis. People are waiting longer at A&E than they have had to for years. And in the long run, we are an ageing country: more of us will depend on it in future so we will need to spend more on it whether we like it or not.

Concern about inequality and poverty is at its highest since IPSOS Mori started asking about it in 1997. When I was growing up we never used to have food banks. We never used to have the wage figures for the whole of the country distorted by bonuses. People have stopped believing that a rising tide lifts all boats. Perhaps it's because they are not seeing a rising tide helping them or the people they know.

And then there is big business. In a recent YouGov poll, only 31% of people agreed that government should generally try to help and support big business, whereas many more people - 49% - said government should "generally try to stand up to big business as they too often use their size to take advantage of customers and suppliers."

Ed Miliband has made an issue of tax avoidance. But the anger at the rich not paying their fair share was there well before that. Pollsters say that more people paid attention to the HSBC tax avoidance story than anything else in the news, by a long chalk. And even the surge of support for the Green party at a time when UKIP's support is flatlining or falling shows that the energy is not on the right of politics today, it is on the left. Even Nigel Farage is now talking about making capitalism work for all. Clearly he thinks that is where the public mood is.

The country is worried about jobs, low pay, food banks, and inequality. This is not a Tory moment. More than anything else, that will put a ceiling on how well David Cameron can do, and put a wind at Ed Miliband's back come May which will drive him to No. 10.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of the Scotland Institute