Why not a Frank Luntz Cameron-Johnson test?
In a review of the Labour leadership in his weekly Times column today Mathew Parris suggests that a party led by the declared Deputy contender, Alan Johnson, would be a bigger threat to David Cameron than Gordon Brown.
Commenting on the former postman to Dorneywood who became General Secretary of his union Parris writes “..whenever one happens to see or listen to this man he appears well-judged, capable, moderate and likable. He is clearly ambitious, but seems like a human being. He has a directness of speech. Plus (it would be dishonest not to include this, for it will make a difference) he is English….I know whom Iâ€™d prefer to fight if I were David Cameron, and it wouldnâ€™t be Alan Johnson.”
According to several reports the Gordon Brown plan to attack Cameron is to go unmercilessly at the Tory leader’s “privileged” background and to focus, in particular, on his old school, Eton.
Clearly Cameron is vulnerable on this point and perhaps the only reason that Labour have thus far kept away from this territory is that Tony Blair also went to an elite public school and then to Oxford’s richest college.
The problem Brown has got here is that although he’s the “son of the manse” and did not go to Oxford his alma mater, Edinburgh is also an ancient university which likes to think of itself as part of the elite.
And what a contrast with Johnson. At the stage in his life when Brown was a student activist Johnson was working as a postman seeking to improve the lot of his colleagues by getting closely involved with his trade union.
My point is that it will be much easier, as in my headline above, for Johnson to focus on Cameron’s background than for Brown. In fact the Education Secretary could simply let the media do it for him. Journalists love to talk and write in stereotypes and the Etonian-Postie contrast will be one that comes easily.
OK – I’m talking my book I have backed Johnson at 18/1 and will win a fair bit if he does it. But when Labour finally gets round to choosing its next leader the main consideration, surely, will be who looks best able to beat off the Tory challenge? After winning three successive election Labour does not look like a party that is tired of power. It wants to win again.
On this count the polls do not show Brown in a good light against Cameron and if this progresses it would be great to have Cameron-Johnson tested. Enter Frank Luntz?
In the Labour leadership betting Johnson has tightened to 9.5/1 on Betfair although there’s a bookmaner price of 14/1. Brown is 0.36/1.