Flying blind on the Lib Dem race

Flying blind on the Lib Dem race

nick clegg talking.JPG

    How certain is Clegg’s victory?

The latest Betfair prices on the Lib Dem race have Nick Clegg at 0.36/1 and yesterday’s guest on the site, Chris Huhne at 2.85/1. I did notice that there was a slight movement to Huhne during the morning and I wondered whether his confident performance in our online hustings had given him a boost. Who knows?

As far as I am aware there are unlikely to be any media-commissioned surveys of the electorate of party members. As for other polls I was hoping that tomorrow’s survey by Populus for the Times might have had a comparison of sorts – even amongst just voters as a whole. Alas, I understand, there won’t be anything. The media seems to have decided that the contest is of no consequence so why bother with any polling.

    So the crazy thing is that we have almost no data to help us. Punters who are betting on this are flying blind. For is anybody able to say confidently what is it that appeals to Lib Dem members?

In the last race Huhne picked up a respectable 42% and asking round amongst party members I know I have found few switchers and one or two 2006 Ming supporters who will vote Huhne.

Clegg has done well picking up the lion’s share of the parliamentary party including from some MPs that you would not associate with the younger candidate’s rightish stance. Simon Hughes was a big coup.

The views of former leaders might also have an impact. Paddy Ashdown, who according to Alastair Campbell diaries was ready to “sell” the party to Labour in return for a cabinet seat, has gone for Clegg. The last Liberal Party leader, David Steel, is publicly backing Huhne because of his stance opposing a Trident replacement.

I think that there will be less than 5% in it and Clegg has probably got the edge. But the value bet is Huhne.

Mike Smithson

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