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The buoyant popularity of William Hague

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2011-08-02 at 06.38.59

This being the holiday season - or the silly season if you prefer - the Sun has a frivolous item today.  For further details see above, or follow the link to the story, which declares:

"Brits give party leaders an end-of-year savaging today - branding David Cameron and Ed Miliband SNAKES and Nick Clegg a SHEEP. And a YouGov poll for The Sun shows the nation is so fed up with the trio that it thinks NONE of them ought to have a holiday."

And so on.  But if you are read a bit further, you will come across the following:

"Of the three main parties' top 18 figures at Westminster, Foreign Secretary William Hague is the ONLY ONE to win a net positive rating."

And, yes, there is a doleful-looking Hague at the bottom of the page, coming in none the less at plus 11 in response to the question: "Do you think the following are doing well or badly in their current jobs?"

Surprising, you may say, given the Government's impotence on Syria and confusion over Libya.  Not to mention Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Let alone the EU...

But the finding is less eyebrow-raising than it seems.  Foreign Secretary is a less unpopularity-inducing post than, say, Health Secretary (Andrew Lansley comes in second last).

Besides, Hague - with the jokes, the books, and Have I Got News For You - recovered long ago from the horrible nadir of his years as Leader of the Opposition.

Were the Prime Minister to fall under a Tuscan bus - if there is such a thing - the smart money is on Theresa May to replace him.  So it's worth noting that the Home Secretary comes in second in the Sun's survey.

But in the crisis that almost certainly won't happen, keep your eye on the Foreign Secretary.  I probably  have him over-much in mind, having interviewed him yesterday (full account later this week).

And he's been known to say that the desire to be Prime Minister has died in him.  None the less, you can never say never with politicians.

At any rate, the Sun's poll helps to prove that there are no limits to how high a politician's popularity can soar once it's plummeted to the very depths.  Which reminds me.  Nick Clegg is bottom of the poll.

> William Hague is one of the star speakers in ConservativeHome's Party Conference fringe programme.


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