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Monday, October 06, 2003

Take me to your leader

An interesting poll in the Independent today indicates that more people consider the Liberal Democrats to be the effective opposition to New Labour than they do the Tories. When asked to name the Leader of the Tories just 53% of all voters and 71% of Tory supporters correctly identified Iain Duncan Smith. Some 45% of all voters and more scarily, 28% of Tory supporters, were unaware that IDS was Her Majesty's Leader of the Opposition. In fact 2% of the public thought that William Hague was still at the helm. Naturally, these figures give me and my fellow Liberal Democrats a warm feeling but we know that there is still a long haul ahead and that we should not count our blessings yet. Nevertheless, they are very worrying for the Tories and potentially more damaging for them in the long term. The knives are out for Iain Duncan Smith but he is a creature of his party and although the MPs may well opt for somebody more electable if there is a contest, the grassroots members by no means have the same survival instincts. It seems that the one member one vote internal democracy that the Tories have belatedly introduced to their party could well prove to be its undoing simply by removing the veil that successive leaders drew across the right wing and inedible views of their members so as to make themselves more electable.

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