I suggest the following advice to the PM from a Labour source:
To: Prime Minister
From: Senior Politicial Adviser
The drop to 27 % in the polls is serious, and the lack of trust in politics is tangible. Your well judged campaign to restore faith in politics has been badly damaged by Northern Rock, the loss of HMRC data and the Abrahams donations. I know how upset you are by these developments, and feel they are not of your making. Unfortunately they have changed the political weather, and the Tories are now claiming that Northern Rock is related to your changes to the regulatory framnework in 1997, and the data loss to your merger of Revenue and Customs. No-one said politics was fair.
You have rightly decided to try to change the subject of discussion, and have decided to say that you are going to be making the long term decisions the country needs. I think that is the right approach.
However, you have highlighted three decisions which are at best contentious – nuclear power, genetically modified crops and a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and at worst will increase the antagonisms. Whilst nuclear does remove carbon emission when generating power, many greens dislike it and draw attention to the carbon footprint of the new build as well as to disposal issues for the waste. A 3 rd runway at Heathrow is much needed to reduce queues and delays but will be presented as a contradiction to your stance on cutting emissions. GM food remains very unpopular according to all surveys of opinion, even though the government’s scientific adviser sees it as a key technology. You may be right that these things may need doing, but to highlight them in your current positon is, as Sir Humphrey might say, "brave Prime Minister". Critics would say if you think they like data loss and the run on the bank, they will love GM food and nuclear power.
There are long term decisions the country needs that could portray you in the right light that are not as divisive as the ones you have started to highlight. The decision to make training or a job compulsory for those who would otherwise claim benefit is a bold step which could also prove popular with the large majority of people in work who are paying taxes. The decision to cut capital gains tax for all from 40% to 18% could be received favourably if a more generous treatment of those investing in their own businesses or through employer share schemes currently paying 10% was incorporated in the changes. If you reconsidered your position on a referendum on the treaty that could help to reduce the scepticism about politics.
Above all you need Ed Balls to come up with ways of raising the performance of state schools. The growing gap between the grammars/independents on the one hand and the comprehensives on the other is worrying. The large number of school leavers who cannot read and write to a reasonable standard lies behind the disappointing figures for the numbers of young people not in education, training or a job. You have always stressed the need to offer opportunity to all – we do need to raise our game here. If we could break through on jobs and training for all young people, the electorate would start to forget the noises off, and the costs of economic failure (which you waxed lyrical about in Opposition) would start to come down. This is one area where we are lucky that our Opposition is not as good as you used to be at blaming the government!