Post conference poll
Looks like the good local by-election results last week have been mirrored by the national polls in showing Labour catching up with the Tories - today's Populus poll in the Times has Labour up 3% and narrowing the Tory lead to 1%.
My take on this:
- conference boosted Labour because we looked united
- there's still selling power in the Blair brand
- there isn't a fundamental problem with the public's perception of Labour - they just got brassed off with people infighting and want us to get on with governing
- the Tories are really in big trouble if they can't sustain a lead even with a shiny new leader
The other question put was more worrying: "The poll suggests, however, that David Cameron would comfortably defeat Labour at the next general election in three or four years whether the party were led by Gordon Brown, John Reid or Alan Johnson. Support for the Tories would be 40 per cent or more in each of these cases with Labour reaching no higher than 34 per cent. A consolation for Mr Brown is that Labour would do no better under either Mr Reid or Mr Johnson. "
I think this indicates we face the same dangers as the Democrats did when Clinton went. Brown, Reid and Johnson each have many qualities but they ain't Tony Blair in terms of charisma any more than Gore was Clinton.
To deal with this we need to ensure that the leadership election burnishes rather than tarnishes the images of all the contenders - in the same way that US Presidential contenders use the primaries to establish a resonant persona with the electorate ahead of the full elections. To do this we need a positive campaign where the candidates talk themselves up not their opponents down.
And we need to acknowledge that Blair will be a key campaigner endorsing Brown or whoever else in 2009/10 - who can pull in a particular segment of the electorate - not freeze him out like Gore did Clinton.