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How did Gord become PM with this 06/07 polling baggage?

April 20th, 2008

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    Was getting a coronation the political achievement of the decade?

As another pollster, Populus, reports a double digit deficit for Labour let’s consider this morning the remarkable campaign a year ago that saw Gordon become his party’s leader and PM without having to face a contest.

For in the year before the “handover” a vast body of polling evidence built up that Labour would do much worse with him as a leader than the party was already doing. The results of the monthly named leader questions, reproduced above from UKPollingReport, were there for all to see yet Team Brown managed to convince well over 300 Labour MPs to give him a coronation.

    For the recent polling has shown that ICM and Populus got this one right – and members of the PLP were duped with the result that many of their jobs and salaries are now on the line.

For a long period in the run-up to last June I argued, and for a time took a big betting position on the proposition, that nobody who was polling so badly against Cameron when the “named leader” question was put could possibly make it to the top job. It seemed a no-brainer. Parties like to keep in power and two of our most respected pollsters were saying month after month that Gordon was an electoral liability – not an electoral asset.

I highlighted these results whenever they came out and was subject to a lot of abuse. The “astro-turfers” would come out in their droves to argue that these polls should be ignored – it was all hypothetical they said.

In trying to explain the numbers which were so consistent I suggested that Labour’s poorer position with Brown named was because Cameron was included in the voting intention question. That might have had a part but what we have seen in recent weeks suggests that it was Brown that affected thinking.

Looking back one can only marvel at the way Gord’s coronation campaign succeeded and how they managed to diss the polls. The only problem is that Labour will be facing a general election within two years and the prospects don’t look good.

Mike Smithson

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