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« 67 days until the next leader of the Conservative Party is elected... | Main | A good week for democracy (and cold water for the hot favourite) »


Oberon Houston

I think we are in danger of playing overly sophisticated games here. Thinking a bit more about this ‘recognition’ issue, I’m not an expert psychologist, but when people ‘recognise’ Ken, do they then say “ah, I recognise him, therefore I like him?”

What if it was a picture of Shrek or Sadam, or Dr Mengles people were shown? Would they poll better because people recognise them? Or would it work to their disadvantage? “Ah, I remember him, didn’t like him.”

My point is this, relatively unknown characters will fare badly against a recognisable person people like, but will fare better against people they don’t like, therefore Ken is simply profiting from his recognition because people like him. The unknown candidates are a mystery to them; therefore the risk is greater, isn’t it?

Tim Hughes

Yet the point is the other candidates are unknown. Why risk choosing an unknown candidate as leader when we already have a popular figure in Ken Clarke


Why risk choosing an unknown candidate as leader when we already have a popular figure in Ken Clarke?

Because Ken is yesterday's man on whom the labour party have a list of indiscretions to throw up at every potential point scoring time, like Question Time last night Patricia Hewitt managed to chuck in that Ken was responsible for removing NHS Optical charges to pensioners, that's one of the main things I remembered this morning and I won't be the only person.

Simon C

But as pointed out by James H and yours truly on another thread (Ken Clarke's time to win), whilst this is indeed a very interesting poll, the questions were loaded in Cameron's favour and against Liam Fox. Even with that imbalance, Liam polled just behind DD & DC - it would be interesting to see how he would have fared in a more even-handed poll.


a-tracy, I have to agree. If even the ridiculous Hewitt can put the boot in as effectively as she did last night, Ken Clarke is going to have problems. More worringly he didn't have anything new to say...a lot of bluster, but he only came alive when talking about his time in the Thatcher Government. It was Cameron's day yesterday.


"Yet the point is the other candidates are unknown"

Yes, but the new leader and his policies should be very well known by the time the next general election is fought.
Besides, this so-called 'popularity' of Clarke is only based on recognition and personality. How many of the electorate is familiar with his political views, especially on Europe?
My right-thinking buddies and I are not party members, but we we are familiar with all the standing candidates' political positioning and Clarke is genarally our fourth preference. I actually don't mind which one of Davis, Fox or Cameron becomes leader, because all of them seem up to the job (perhaps Cameron needs more experience). So I am happy if the new leader is ANYONE BUT CLARKE.

Oberon Houston

If your not party members - consider joining online, its only £15 and takes 2 minutes. Then you can influence things directly.


There is a 3 month lag between joining and getting voting rights so joining now would be too late I think.

This poll was pretty absurd - it basically depended on how You Gov decided to weigh the statements for each individual. The article was based entirely on Stephan Shakespeare's judgement... not a commodity he is known for, having been Archer's campaign manager!

Mark Fulford

Shaun, which way did you vote last election? My point being - does ABC translate to more votes to the party or a just happier you?

James Hellyer

relatively unknown characters will fare badly against a recognisable person people like, but will fare better against people they don’t like

Which is supported by Ken Clarke's "popularity" as a choice for Conservative leader not translating into more support in the opinion polls.

As for this poll, although flawed (the wording and selection of the questions are loaded - for example, Davis was in favour of "intervention in Iraq" while Fox favoured "war"), it shows that all the candidates are attractive to people once they are known to them. It shows as a lie the claim that only Clarke has appeal. What it doesn't tell us (because of the flaws) is who is most or least attractive.


Its also worth pointing out that Clarke is the only candidate that does not have to put up with serious scrutiny.

Davis, Cameron and Fox have been at the front line of the Conservative party for 4 years and have done reasonably well. Clake has done nothing.

On question time he was rambling, incoherent and failed to get stuck into Patricia Hewitt who is one of the weak links in the cabinet line up. He was also outdone by Simon Hughes.

Ken may be more popular now but I can't see that standing up over a long period of time.

Mark Fulford

KC would have been a winner compared to IDS, but he has too much history to be an effective leader. I'm sorry Ken, but we've got to move on. There are other candidates who can connect with the voter and will do better for us at the next election.


Wasp, I agree re Clarke on question time (although the audience and panel clearly loved him). Whenever, I see Clarke on TV, I really want him to convince me, to say something new or exciting which will inspire me to support him, but it never happens. I want to be convinced on Clarke, but actually it's Clarke himself who lets me down. The opposite is true of Cameron.


I thought it was a rather good poll. All those other polls which try to compare apples with oranges - well-known Clarke with unknow Cameron - are utterly meaningless. This one isn't perfect, but it's a huge improvement.

EU Serf

It may have been flawed as some people have said here, after all the choice of statements is very subjective.

It is still a big improvement on a normal poll where people are not asked to think.


All of us reading this blog are interested in politics and that makes us a-typical. I voted IDS last time because of Europe. He was unknown but would be "well known by the election".

We need a leader who connects with those who aren't political anoraks. In last nights QT, KC didn't say anything new but a non Tory audience was right behind him.

It's time to get serious. It's time to stop navel gazing and start taking the fight to Labour. KC can do that from Day 1.


Bob, I agree. The QT audience did love him and I'm determined to vote for the candidate the public want, not necessarily the candidate I want. However, a QT audience is full of "political anoraks" too and just 'cos they like him, doesn't mean they will vote Conservative next time!


I'm exceedingly sceptical about this poll, as by arbitratrily taking five statements, assigning them "equal weight" in polling terms and dropping names, I'd be wary of any conclusions drawn. For instance, it was noted that KC has links with BAT (a strong negative) but I doubt that many people's overall picture of Clarke is strongly shaped by this link.

Moreover, by using "objective" statements in such a poll, it removes the subjective opinions that ordinary people have and with which they make their decisions. It would have been unreasonable, for example, to have as a statement: "This candidate is very dull", but many people view David Davis as such. Bereft of these judgments, I fail to see how this poll can be regarded as a true indication of the candidates' relative popularity.

James Hellyer

Alex, it's not supposes to show the candidates' relative popularities. What it shows is that all of them have characteristics and beliefs that attract voters once those voters get to know about them.

For instance, it was noted that KC has links with BAT (a strong negative) but I doubt that many people's overall picture of Clarke is strongly shaped by this link.

Given that mild mannered Ed Stourton asked about it on the Today programme (to Clarke's discomfort), I think that's something that will keep coming up as long as Clarke is in the race.


Clarke has not given us any other reason to vote for him as leader than some notion that he is well liked by the electorate. A leadership election of a political party is not just a popularity contest. Is he competent enough to lead political campaigns (to date this one and previous leadership bid attempts have seemed rather lazy), unite the party (the issue of Europe will never go away) and recieve loyalty and respect from fellow MPs and party members?

A lot of people say that Clarke is blokish and likable, but I see a demeanour of arrogance and selfishness in him. During the party's last few crisis years, he has not been prepared to serve on the front bench (making money with a tobacco firm has been more important to him)and has made snide comments about the rest of the party and its membership.

The lefties, the BBC and the Guardian (which some people think is representative of the electorate - I don't) may say that the electorate would like to have him as leader of the party, but that doesn't mean they are going to vote for him (hypothetical example - I may like the personality of a leader in the Labour party, but that doesn't mean I'm going to change my vote from Tory to Labour). Besides, once people look past the personality, will they agree with his policies?
We all know that the Great British electorate is Eurosceptic. Any extra voters that Clarke MIGHT win could be offset by votes switching to UKIP.

I repeat: Davis, Fox or Cameron - Anyone but Clarke, please.


This eurosceptic thing really needs to be hit on the head.

During the last election in every single poll Labour had a lead on the issue of Europe of approx 5 points. The British electorate is eurosceptic, but that doesn't matter. What matters is which party they trust to run our relationship with the EU and at the moment that is Labour.

On the other hand UKIP is dying and only a Clarke leadership would revive it.

The issue of europe has to be peripheral to conservative party politics. What we need is a sanely eurosceptic leader. ie Davis, Cameron or Rifkind. Clarke is too pro Fox is too anti, we have to hold a line that the british people will trust us on.

James Hellyer

Anthony Wells has provided a commentary for this at his new blog:


Shaun 'Yes, but the new leader and his policies should be very well known by the time the next general election is fought'

Hague and IDS were virtually unknow outside Westminster and they did appallingly badly. I'm sure (even taking into account public political apathy) that a significant majority couldn't name them now if they were shown their photos. I can see the same happening with Davis (IDS like dullness) and Cameron (Hague like inexperience) leading the Tories into another defeat. Are the Tories trying to beat Labour's record in the wilderness?

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