Will the Brownites be rubbishing Frank Luntz this time?

Will the Brownites be rubbishing Frank Luntz this time?

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    The chancellor beats Cameron in the latest Newsnight focus group

Following his “focus group” that was screened on Newsnight at the start of the 2005 Tory party conference the features by the US Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, have become significant political events. That one, arugably, played a key part in Cameron’s eventual victory in the party leadership contest.

The last session, during the Labour conference in September, had Luntz asking those taking part to compare Brown with other potential candidates for the Labour leadership. That proved highly controversial when the participants opted overwhelmingly for the Home Secretary, John Reid, over the chancellor.

Last night it was all different. The Luntz session was in Birmingham and after following the format that we have become familiar with Gordon Brown came out as clear winner when compared with David Cameron and Ming Campbell.

    The Tory leader fared very badly with the group – in sharp contrast to a session last April and the 2005 Tory conference feature.

What was interesting was the negativity that was apparent when he talked about green issues or when the group was shown pictures with his family. We were told that the audience consisted mostly of Labour and Lib Dem supporters and whether this had an impact we don’t know.

The reaction to Brown appeared weakest when he was shown talking about the NHS which interestingly has started to become a big negative for Labour.

Will Luntz have an impact?
My view is that he probably will. This latest Newsnight event will certainly ease some of the concerns within Labour about electing Brown to compete against Cameron and this time, no doubt, the Chancellor’s favourite pollster, Deborah Mattinson, won’t be wheeled out to rubbish the Luntz approach.

Surprisingly the betting price on Brown for the leadership has eased just a touch to 0.26/1.

Mike Smithson

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