If there’s going to be a contest could one of these win?
With all the focus over the past 24 hours being the growing number of Labour figures calling for a leadership contest the finding of today’s Populus leadership focus group have not merited the attention they perhaps deserve.
For the pollster put together a group of 20 Labour voters from 2005 and showed them clips of Brown and six possible replacements. As they watched they registered their reaction by moving on-screen pointers and afterwrds were asked to explain their thinking.
The results were quite surprising. As the discussion continued doubts grew over the current betting favourite, David Miliband, while Alan Johnson suffered a real pasting. One person said that he’d “lost the will to live” after seeing the Health Secretary’s clip while another said he was â€œpast his sell-by dateâ€.
Ed Balls prompted the response that he was “a miniature Gordon Brown” and Harriet was simply not liked.
Two figures, however, came out reasonably well – John Cruddas who fought an effective deputy campaign last year and James Purnell who had panel members saying they liked his straightforward manner. The big surprise was Cruddas.
This is how the paper reports the response to him: “He spoke my language. I understood everything he said,â€ said one man. â€œHonest straight from the start,â€ agreed a woman. Another said that he was an â€œaverage person, middle of the roadâ€ but also â€œmore interestingâ€ than the others. â€œHe was owning up to things. I actually listened to him,â€ said one elderly man. â€œIt wasnâ€™t, â€˜this is how it is, this is how I want itâ€™; he was open to discussion.â€
The reaction to Johnson is very much in line with the Frank Luntz focus group that was shown on Newsnight in September 2006. Somehow he doesn’t seem to have it.
I’ve no idea how this is going to end but I’ve taken all that’s available on Cruddas at 30/1 and more on the Betfair next PM market and I’m on Purnell at 32/1. Cruddas is now down to 4/1 while Purnell is at 15/1.