Last night on Sky News we saw the current Tory leader, tonight shall we be seeing the next Tory leader? My betting strategy says no.
Tonight Michael Gove, who has led the ConHome readers’ vote to be next Tory leader for the last three will be putting the Leave side on Sky News. Whilst I have many doubts about the ConHome polling, not least because it offers a range of options to the ConHome readers, when the reality is the Tory membership will be presented with just two choices determined by the Parliamentary Conservative Party, and the more methodology sound YouGov polling from March has Boris winning the Tory leadership race.
The other reason I would be laying Gove is that he polls quite appalling with the public. Prior to the last general election Sir Lynton Crosby told David Cameron to demote Gove as Education Secretary and move to him the political equivalent of the attic, Chief Whip, because he was toxic with voters because of his poor ratings with the public.
A few months ago, the polling found Gove had the same net unfavourable ratings as Jeremy Corbyn, I would think this type of polling would deter Tory MPs and the Tory membership from electing Gove as leader, but when the Tory party is obsessed with the European Union, it leads to bad leadership results, as evidenced by the time they elected Iain Duncan Smith as leader.
As a Labour supporter told me a few weeks ago, he was hoping for Gove to replace Cameron, his hope was that in the Kingdom of the blind, the swivel-eyed man is King.
Last night David Cameron gave a confident and polished performance, which is what you would expect from someone who has been doing these type of events since he became Tory leader in 2005, Michael Gove doesn’t have that experience, but with these type of events, the aim isn’t so much as to do well, as it is not to give a bad performance, or a soundbite your opponents can use, such as Ed Miliband denying the previous Labour government had overspent during the Question Time event during last year’s general election campaign.
So even if Gove does well tonight and avoids any gaffes, he’s still someone I will continue to keep on laying in the next Tory leader/PM markets. I don’t wish to sound like I have a downer on Michael Gove, as Justice Secretary, he’s done a very good job so far, he took on the likes of Philip Davies and made a very passionate case for rehabilitation of prisoners in this video, which is worth watching.
I just don’t think Gove is an election winning leader, and I think the Parliamentary party thinks so too. I believe Gove will be the Kingmaker rather the King in the next Tory leadership race, which might very well officially start three weeks today.
In this week’s PB/Polling Matters show, there is also an interesting segment on Michael Gove ahead of the Justice Secretary’s appearance on Sky tonight (25.25 minutes in), the audio only version is below