Would things look so good with a different leader?
John Rentoul in the Indy on Sunday (HatTip Wibbler on previous thread) raises something that I’ve been meaning to look at for some time – the over-reliance that the Tories have on their leader, David Cameron.
Just look at the historical polls – both voting intention and approval ratings – and its clear that the party has not been led in recent times by anybody who connects in quite the same way that Cameron is able to. In the recent Populus poll he outscored Brown by almost every measure including both being likeable and having substance.
But as Rentoul asks – who would replace him if we apply the “falling under a bus test”?
He reviews all the main possibles – Osborne, Hague, Gove, David Davis, Fox, Boris etc – and there simply isn’t anybody there were with the same electoral appeal.
For the fact is that the his party’s dramatic recovery has been down to two things – Cameron himself who took the party to poll leads not seen for a decade and a half – and then Gordon Brown who took his party into the mid-20s.
For all we say about this being a parliamentary system the central key element is the the importance of the leader – something that has been accentuated in the 24/7 media age.
I think that any of the names listed would probably just about win against a Brown-led Labour but there’s be nothing of the same certainty about the outcome that we now have. It is Cameron’s appeal to centre-ground voters that has been the main dynamic of the past four years.
And as we saw last night with Nick Clegg’s LD conference speech neither of the other two main parties have a clue how to deal with him. A full-frontal attack simply does not resonate.
Rentoul’s right – the Tories are vulnerable in the “falling under a bus” scenario.