Oh dear, it’s all starting to get very silly indeed.
First of all, there is this “independent” poll put out by Team Huhne, which indicates a huge surge for Huhne in the last few days. I emailed them to ask the identity of these pollsters, only to be asked to ring Anna Werrin (Huhne’s campaign manager). If you can’t tell me who they are by email, I can’t blog it. It all sounds a bit whiffy to me.
Then there is Team Clegg, assuring us that they’ve canvassed 11,000 and that the 8,000 who have expressed a preference have come out 60-40 for Clegg. Hmmm… that’s a lot of “antis”, most of whom you can probably put down as Huhne supporters. Put that raw data through anything resembling the Richmond formula (they aren’t telling to what extent this canvass data is breaking down into “hard” and “soft” support, unsurprisingly) and I think you’ll find it ends up much closer. Come on lads, we’ve all done canvassing 101 haven’t we?
Speaking personally, my instincts tell me that Clegg will win, but that it will be close. Anecdotally, Huhne seems to be going down much better with older members and there are a lot of those. The YouGov poll is particularly dubious because although Peter Kellner has been keen to point out that it has been weighted according to age, it doesn’t appear to take into account the likelihood that those who aren’t following this election online (i.e. people who don’t vote in YouGov polls) are likely to be experiencing a very different election compared with those of us – of whatever age – who are.
On the other hand, there is the donkey vote factor, the same factor that saw MEPs getting reselected with 70-90% of the vote last month. Faced with that big long list of the great and good that Clegg has behind him, I find it hard to believe a lot of armchair members won’t unthinkingly vote for him regardless of anything else. The only reason I don’t think that will be as big a factor as it could be is that Team Clegg appear to consider pushing out paper to be beneath them, while Team Huhne have been putting much more out.
So I think Huhne will improve on his 42% last time, but not quite well enough. Either way, the victor had better recognise that they have a lot to prove to pretty much half of the party. It won’t be much of a mandate, so don’t expect an easy ride folks!
Whenever I hear about “conventional wisdom” it is time to take a reality check, particularly when it comes from the Tories.
So, notwithstanding the fact that I do think Clegg needs to sharpen up his media act, let’s just consider another senior politician here for a second: David Cameron.
I’m not comparing Clegg to Cameron, merely observing that whenever I hear Cameron on the radio I don’t think he comes across very well (although he has improved). John Humphries in particular seems to be able push his buttons.
Cameron, let us not forget, shot to fame on the basis of a single speech. At the hustings I’ve been to, Clegg was the clear winner in terms of speech while the Q&A was a dead heat. If this leadership contest had been conducted in the same way as the Tory one, Clegg would be being hailed as a media star right now (good old conventional wisdom again).
So his weakness on Today and on other media appearances is not the disaster that many Huhney Monsters are seeking to portray it as.
Another observation: in our interview with Vince Cable on Monday, he didn’t exactly come across as vibrant and inspirational. With Vince, it has all been about content, not style. The same will ultimately apply to whoever the new party leader is.
A few weeks ago, when I was more Huhne inclined, I argued that whatever problems he might have as a communicator, they can be sorted with training. The fact is, he is a much stronger communicator now compared with 18 months ago. So yes, maybe Clegg should have listened a little less to his fan club who were spinning before the start of this contest that he is the Great Communicator and thought a little harder about shaving off those rough edges, but if Huhne can improve, so can Clegg.
Everything comes to a full stop. Except for the Third Reich!
Cover: A simple yet impactful shot of a hand holding a gun against a blood soaked background. Once again Frazer Irving shows off his sense of design.
Quote of the Week:
The Voice: Harry, listen, it wasn’t my fault. They forced it on me. I was very … content with our arrangement.
Harry: I’m glad to hear that, Steve. I thought it was something like that. Fair enough, no hard feelings then.
The Voice: You-you mean it?
Harry: Sure, am I the kind of man to bear grudges? Oh, by the way, I dropped by your house this morning and strangled your wife.
– Button Man
Spoilers below… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1566 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)