Could the party lose two leaders in the same parliament?
The power of the media to frame the agenda by deciding what is asked in opinion polls is shown vividly this morning with the top political story in the Times being the findings from the second part of its monthly Populus poll.
Yesterday we saw that all the rise in Labour support has been at the expense of the Lib Dems which dropped from 20% to 17% – the second poorest rating with the pollster since the middle of last parliament. Today the paper reveals the response to a question of “whether the party would do better to get rid of Ming?”
We will have to wait until the detailed data is published before we can assess the precise wording of what was put to those interviewed but it does appear to have been a leading question. Having said that it is still very bad news for the 65 year old former Olympic sprinter and headlines like this will make it difficult for him.
After Kennedy was ousted in January 2006 the desire of many at the top of the party, including possible leadership hopefuls Nick Clegg and David Laws, was that Ming should be given a Brown-style coronation. So they stood aside while the relatively unknown ex MEP, Chris Huhne put his hat into the ring and Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes were at the end of media maulings.
So the lack of a proper contest last year has made Ming’s position that bit more difficult – something that Gordon Brown’s supporters might care to ponder as we wait to see if the Chancellor does get his coronation.
If things had gone well for the party then that would not have been a problem. But they haven’t and the pressure to perform is greater because the party establishment made it easier for him last year.
Mike Smithson – author of “The Political Punter“