The Runners and Riders
Frank Luntz is a leading US pollster. His interviews will be broadcast on Newsnight tonight but here he gives a potted formbook, as complied by Labour and Labour leaning voters:
The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, the obvious frontrunner; - he looks and sounds just like every other politician in pre-Blair Britain: a canned stump speech and insincere sincerity... No one believed him. None...almost half the group opposed being led by a Scotsman. I pushed them hard — and they pushed back. “It’s not racist. I want someone who is English running England.”
John Reid, Home Secretary;- the clear winner in our session, but he has a way to go. Only a fraction of our participants could name Mr Reid just from his photograph. But two words immediately came to mind as their familiarity grew: “strong” and “tough”.
Alan Johnson, Education Secretary; - the perfect biography. Participants felt he had the right life-experience. ...But for almost everyone, his presentation is, in a word, boring.
Alan Milburn, former Health Secretary;- suffered the same fate. His repeated references to “the public” and “the people” in his speeches were not well-received by the public and the people.
and David Miliband, Environment Secretary earned exactly the opposite reaction. His official photograph drew laughter from the audience (several participants said he looked like a Tory Boy), and the initial reaction to his unbending defence of Mr Blair was poorly received...
The Anyone But Gordon crowd can draw some strength there, but they need to pick their challenger, though like an old fairground boxing booth it might be good tactics to put a young boy in first to soften up the old pro and absorb his wrath first, before putting forward the one carrying the money. Can Johnson's men fool Miliband into being that naive fool who gets a bloody nose in a hopeless attempt on the crown?