But how will either cope with the Vince Cable comparison ?
With the result of the Lib Dem leadership contest due to be announced at 2.30 pm the average entry in our PB competition gave it to the party’s home affairs spokesman with 53.71% of the vote. This is quite close to the 56% predicted by the only media-sponsored party membership poll of the campaign – that by YouGov for SkyNews.
One figure that might be interesting is the number of spoiled ballot papers. For there have been suggestions that a number of voters might have been tempted to write in the name of the party’s acting leader, Vince Cable. He, of course, has commanded a mass of favourable media attention during his few weeks in the role.
His sharp wit at PMQs and his continued pressure on Northern Rock have added to Brown’s woes during a particularly challenging period for the prime minister.
In fact Cable has emerged as such a dominant commons figure that it’s it’s hard to see how either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne are going to be able to do anything like as well. Inevitably the winner today is in danger of being compared unfavourably with Cable and this could undermine the hoped-for media honeymoon.
There’s another element – Tory and Labour MPs have laid off their normal practice of barracking whoever is the LibDem leader. So Huhne or Clegg are going to face a barrage of heckling when they stand up for the first time with both main parties having a real interest in inflicting early damage.
If it is, as looks likely, Nick Clegg then expect to hear the word “calamity” being woven into back-benchers questions and shouted from the gangways as the ex-MEP rises to speak. Everybody recalls the reception that Ming got first time out and it isn’t going to be any easier for Clegg.
What will be the electoral and polling impact of the new arrival? That’s hard to say.
Thanks to Paul Maggs for running the competition and collating the entries. You can download the list PBC Lib Dem comp Dec 2007.xls”>here.
Contact Please use the new email address Politicalpunter@googlemail.com