ICM and Populus surveys send punters to Clarke again
The above chart showing the implied probability of Ken Clarke winning the Tory leadership based on best betting prices illustrates the amazing volatility that there is in the markets over the former Chancellor’s prospects.
After making a lot of progress following his speech last week attacking the Government on the Iraq war the Clarke price moved out sharply after weekend press comment was dismissive of his chances. Then came last night’s ICM poll on BBC2’s Newsnight showing that the veteran Tory was four times more popular amongst ordinary voters than any of the other contenders. The ratings were Clarke 40%: Davis 10%: Cameron 4%: Rifkind 4%: Fox 3%: Willetts 2%.
Even more striking were figures showing that a net 12% of voters would be more likely to support the Tories at a General Election compared with deficits of 3% and 4% for Davis and Cameron
The findings were reinforced this morning by a Populus poll in the Times which gave Clarke support of 41% – up from 20% in mid-July These forms of poll might be headline-grabbing but reflect, surely, that the the Tories have been out of the spotlight for so long that Ken Clarke is the only one with a name that those surveyed recognise. The one significant figure that might have an effect is ICM’s 12% possible extra support for the Tories which shows that Clarke has a good image. The fact that he has held a senior position in the tobacco industry for several years does not seem to be a problem.
As a political spectator I would love to see Clarke up against his successor at the Treasury – the humourless control freak that is Gordon Brown assuming that he does become Labour leader. Whether such an election would follow the latest ICM poll I doubt and I am yet to be convinced about Clarke’s prospects under whatever system the Tories choose for the leadership election. Like Michael Howard Clarke would be a one-election leader and in spite of his change on the EU there is still a lot of hostility towards him.
As a punter, however, I’ve been backing Clarke when his odds move out, like on Sunday, and laying him when, like last night, his price tightens. These huge price movements provide real opportunities for profit and I am quids in on Clarke whatever happens.