Could the “Vote for me” winner split the anti-Tory vote?
Probably the best news of the week for Michael Howard is the decision of the winner of ITV’s “Vote for Me” series, Rodney Hylton-Potts, to stand against him in Folkestone.
For if there had been a threat to the Tory leader it was from the Lib Dems who have it down at the top of their “decapitation list” and who might just have eaten into Howard’s 5,900 majority at the 2001 General Election.
Now the presence on the ticket of the former Brixton prisoner threatens to split the anti-Tory vote and provide a further incentive for Conservatives to get behind their man.
The main way that the Lib Dems could have taken the seat was by persuading Labour supporters that they had the best chance of defeating the Tory leader. The presence of Rodder’s on the ticket makes that more difficult and eases the pressure on the Tories.
Folkestone always looked an ambitious target for the Lib Dems. Party leaders have a history of doing well in their own seats however badly their party might fare nationally and in a poll taken just before the October Tory conference Howard was standing at 48% – 3% up on his 2001 performance.
The fact that one of his opponents has “form” will play to one of Michael Howard’s strengths – his position on law and order.
The whole programme concept was pretty dumb – the choice of seat by the winner is even dumber.