This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Good calibre candidates in Lib Dem contest

Irrespective of preference one thing is clear from the Sky TV debate and the Lib Dem leadership campaign thus far. In Hughes, Campbell and Huhne there are three heavyweight contenders to choose from, each with their own emphases and merits. I would be happy to support the party under any of these three men.

As for the campaign from what I can gauge from my armchair, Huhne has been the most impressive in terms of talking policy ideas. Hughes may have offered a 'hostage to fortune' with his 100 seat tally measure of success and Campbell remains a formidable politician, despite the PMQ mishap last week and a campaign that has yet to ignite fully.

Now I am not steeped in liberal tradition / heritage myself but I think I tend to instinctively arrive at liberal conclusions. I remain deeply unconvinced by Mark Oaten's 'liberalism'. His thrusting personal ambition I find as unappealing as his politics. The word 'Tory' just seems to come into my head when I see or hear him speak. I'm probably being grossly unfair, but that's how it seems.

To date, Huhne's is the best and most positive policy driven campaign , even if I remain firmly resolved to support Simon Hughes. The party needs intellectual ballast and for all the criticisms, at least we have had idelogical contributions to the debate about what liberalism is and where it should go from the 'Orange Book-ers'. Where are the much needed counter arguments from those staunchly opposed to that outlook ?

More contributions to the debate about the direction and future of liberalism from differing perspectives, from people far more eloquent than me, are much needed. Hopefully the Lib Dem leadership contest can constructively flesh out differing ideas in this context. As of now, well done Chris Huhne !


Anonymous yolly said...

You are wise to be backing Hughes, in my opinion. This story, from today's Guardian, (25/1) is more significant than anything else I have seen. As I have been droning on for two weeks now, Simon Hughes should get the nod from members, because he's the one the PUBLIC (remember them?) will warm to most.

Panel of voters picks Hughes as runaway victor

· Guardian/ICM survey gives Campbell only 29%
· Findings are bad news for all three candidates

Julian Glover, political correspondent
Wednesday January 25, 2006
The Guardian

Simon Hughes - not the frontrunner Sir Menzies Campbell - has emerged as the candidate best-placed to restore Liberal Democrat fortunes in a Guardian/ICM survey published today.

As the three leadership candidates try to win the backing of party members in the ballot on March 3, Mr Hughes beat Sir Menzies and Chris Huhne among a panel of voters. Just over half, 51%, picked Mr Hughes, against 29% for Sir Menzies and 20% for Mr Huhne.

Among a smaller sample of Liberal Democrat voters, Mr Hughes scored more strongly with 62%, compared with 20% for Mr Huhne and 18% for Sir Menzies. Mr Hughes also emerged as the most likeable candidate, although many of those questioned were unenthusiastic about all three candidates and expressed sympathy for the outgoing leader Charles Kennedy.
The survey mirrors one carried out by ICM for the Guardian during the Conservative leadership contest, which suggested David Cameron, not the then frontrunner David Davis, was most appealing to voters. It was widely circulated at the party conference as evidence that Mr Cameron had the skills to win over new voters.

The survey, which was carried out after Mark Oaten dropped out of the race but before he stood down as home affairs spokesman, draws on polling techniques used in the United States, which try to discover how people respond to the look and feel of candidates, rather than a specific political message. Research suggests many voters base lasting decisions on their initial response. Voters are shown a brief silent video clip of candidates at work before being asked for their response. For the first time, ICM used an internet panel. The results do not make cheering reading for any of the candidates in the race. Gordon Brown, on 42%, and David Cameron, close behind on 40%, easily beat all the Lib Dem contenders as the best potential prime minister, pointing to the scale of the task awaiting the new leader.

In the Guardian survey, none of the three candidates excited voters, with even potential Lib Dem voters underwhelmed.

Mr Hughes scored best as a man who appeared likeable (35% chose him for this) and competent (33%). But he came across as neither tough (11%) nor a potentially effective prime minister (12%). The figures included responses from people who had never voted for the party. Among Lib Dem voters, 50% thought Mr Hughes likeable after watching a video of him at work.

Sir Menzies came across as the best-known candidate - 31% of those questioned named him correctly, against 24% for Mr Hughes and just 3% for Mr Huhne, who entered parliament only last year.

Sir Menzies' claim to be the most experienced candidate was supported by the study, which found that 37% saw him as competent, 31% as honest and 30% as trustworthy. Those figures included voters who have never voted Lib Dem. Among past Lib Dem voters, he was rated slightly higher.

But only 8% found him someone they could relate to, 7% thought him charismatic and 5% that he had personality. In all, 41% found nothing positive about Sir Menzies; 16% said he was too old and appeared stuck in his ways or old fashioned.

Respondents were more likely to agree that Mr Hughes was likeable, had more personality than Sir Menzies, and was a person they could relate to.

Mr Huhne trailed the other two candidates on almost every positive and negative dimension. Almost two thirds (64%) found nothing to like about him at all.

· ICM contacted a sample of 293 people who voted in the 2005 election. The sample comprised 90 Tory voters, 90 Labour and 90 Liberal Democrat, plus 23 who supported other parties. The data has been weighted to the actual outcome in 2005.

11:52 am GMT


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