Friday, January 27, 2006

Any publicity is good publicity - or not

The Liberal Democrats haven't been out of the headlines over the past few weeks, but the latest Telegraph/YouGov poll proves the point about bad publicity, with less than 30% of the sample considering the Liberal Democrats to be a credible force in British politics. Their internal wranglings and the Oaten scandal have hammered their poll ratings downwards, continuing a slide since the highwater mark of 23% at the time of the last election. The fieldwork was conducted largely before the Hughes story broke and shows the Tories right behind Labour's 40% on 39% - a recovery down to the Liberal Democrat voters switching back. All these figures relate to those who actually vote and almost two thirds of them don't know who would make the best LD leader - Campbell scores best with just 16% support.

Interestingly, it suggests that Hughes might be the best candidate to restore the LD vote from 2005, as 22% of the Liberal Democrat supporters in May would back him, compared to 15% backing Campbell. When the same question is put to those who would vote Liberal Democrat today, Campbell closes the gap, collecting 22% support to Hughes' 23%. On this survey, Huhne doesn't really appear on the electorate's radar, but this isn't measuring support amongst party members, just supporters.

The online betting shows that Hughes' support has drifted in the light of recent events, and he's actually fallen into third place in this small field, with William Hill offering 5/1 for him and reporting that they've not taken a bet larger than £5 on Hughes in the past couple of days. To be fair, this is a relatively easily-influenced market - we saw that when the odds on Hemming shortened hugely following a couple of bets from Birmingham, so I'm not convinced that this identifies the reality of the race. There does seem to be a fair amount of indecision amongst the LDs (nothing unusual there, then) and there really does seem to be an awful lot of 'undecided' voters to play for. Those second preference votes are really going to swing the election this time, as nobody has an overwhelming lead.

On that note, YouGov have also helpfully published the result of John Hemming's polling, which showed that of 390 members of the Liberal Democrat party, 70% thought that he lacked the experience for leadership (a mere 14% thought that he was suitably qualified), 58% backed his decision to withdraw and only 7% would have backed our John against the Minger.

And finally, Random Incident was at the Any Questions special on Wednesday and reports Ming's answer to one of the pre-broadcast, test questions - Ming should really learn that he won't gain votes by kicking Chuckles.
Ming was urbane, amusing, and even a little scandalous when he said that, in reality, Burns Night lasted several nights and consisted of equal parts haggis and whisky - with rather more of the latter for some people. There was a sharp intake of breath across the entire hall as everyone similtaneously thought the one word "Kennedy", but Sir Menzies looked inscrutible, as if he'd just said "fuck" in front of a vicar and was quietly enjoying the confusion.

The more I see of this lot, the more I reckon that Charlie Kennedy pissed was a better leader than any of this bunch sober.

1 comment:

Bob Cecil said...

Despite the fact all the contenders for the LD leadership are manifestly decent people, who advance the sort of progressive solutions to the nation's problems you'd expect any self-respecting Labour member to endorse, you choose to attack them in the most sneering, personalised way. It would be perfectly possible to criticise your own leader and the cohort of pitiful placemen (and women) in the current Cabinet in similar terms, but why bother. The administration's incompetence and lack of principle become more obvious by the week: by their works shall ye know them!