If you never guessed why all political parties are saying as little as they can about pensions in this election, the answer is spelled out starkly in a survey by ICM Research for the stockbroker Brewin Dolphin.

This discovered that 91 per cent of the people questioned have little or no confidence in the Government's ability to solve "the pensions crisis". Worse, almost half of those said they had no confidence at all.

In the Midlands - home of many members of the stricken T&N pension fund as well as the MG Rover scheme - the Government doesn't even get credit for trying. Only 37 per cent accept that it has done "all it can".

A crushing consensus like this must be evident in every focus group and every private poll that the parties conduct.

The message for Labour irrefutable: Every time you mention pensions you lose votes. Nobody can possibly persuade 91 per cent to change their minds. So say nothing and hope they are thinking about something else come polling day.

Adrian Quin of Brewin Dolphin in Birmingham points out that the havoc all occurred on Gordon Brown's watch, starting with his disastrous tax on pension fund dividends. Before New Labour arrived in 1997 we prided ourselves on the wellbeing of our pension funds.

He then sought to protect the poorest pensioners from poverty by means testing. But his means tests destroyed the incentive for anyone (except prosperous non- working wives) to buy Labour's stakeholder pensions, or for people on low or middling incomes to attempt any long- term saving.

Yet there is no joy in this for the Opposition parties. Once 91 per cent believe a Government can do nothing about something, they will never put their faith in untested rival politicians claiming they can wave a magic wand.