Will Populus wake up Labour’s leadership race?

Will Populus wake up Labour’s leadership race?

blair + brown sleeping.jpg

    Are we going to get a poll that will confirm or refute Frank Luntz?

In terms of political betting the key focus this morning is not on anything coming out of the Tories at Bournemouth – but on whether Gordon Brown will face a serious challenge in his quest to succeed Tony Blair and if so by whom?

For we are talking here about who will be the next Prime Minister and we might get a better indication of how things are going within the next twenty-four hours.

A month ago, a few hours before Tom Watson’s explosive resignation, the September survey by Populus was published in the Times showing for the first time a comparison of Brown’s leadership chances against another contender, John Reid. For as well as what has become the standard “How would you vote if the leaders were Cameron/Brown/Campbell” question the pollster added another option – the Home Secretary who had had a high profile August following the alleged terror plot against airliners. The result was that the Tory margin would be one point smaller with Reid as leader rather than Brown.

Assuming Populus is following its normal schedule then October’s survey should be out tomorrow and the field-work will have started the day after John Reid’s big speech at Labour’s Manchester conference.

    If similar Reid-Brown questions were part of the survey could Reid’s relative position be better than last month and if so what impact will that have on his chances? What margin over Brown does Reid need to make himself a credible challenger?

I don’t know what’s in the poll but it would be surprising if this or another pollster did not test Brown/Reid/Johnson against Cameron very soon. This would be the first occasion that the outcome of last Monday’s controversial Frank Luntz focus group would have been measured in a conventional opinion poll.

Everybody I’ve spoken to within the Labour party tells me that Reid does not have a chance. He will be hard put, it is said, to even find enough fellow MPs to nominate him so that he could mount a challenge. So his only real chance will come if polls start to show that he will do demonstrably better than Gordon against Cameron’s Tories.

    My guess is that Reid needs substantially more than the 1% margin of last month and probably 3% is the minimum required to maintain momentum.

Clearly this will have an impact on the betting. Compared with a week ago Reid is now firm second favourite at about 6.6/1 but even though his price has eased Gordon is still heavily odds on at 0.54/1.

If the polls show that a challenger won’t make much difference to Labour’s position against Cameron then Gordon’s price will, surely, get tighter. If not then Reid or whoever could start attracting bigger money.

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We’ve also changed the design so that the leaders are not “peering” through the letters. We’ve also made design changes that solve the comments numbering problem for visitors using Internet Explorer.

Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Lucille Smithson, for all the work she has done.

Mike Smithson

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