Who is worrying the most?
The current polling situation remains fascinating for politico's like me (and boring to most members of the public!), but given the current crop of polls published since Gordon Brown took over I wondered which of the three leaders is sleeping best at night at the moment?
GORDON BROWN has at least got the luxury of a notable 'bounce' in his party's ratings since he became leader last week. Recent polls have given his party over 35% of the vote which is an improvement of around 4% on the recent numbers Labour have been getting; but in an election this wouldn't give them anything like a majority without the support of another party in Parliament. This is in marked contrast to the poll ratings for John Major when he took over from Mrs Thatcher in 1990- he was rewarded with a sharp increase of more than 10% which lasted long enough to secure a narrow victory in 1992. A shaky start in Westminster and some less than convincing press coverage must also be a concern to any Prime Minister even before they have had to make a single unpopular decision, and Gordon has had both this week.
DAVID CAMERON has had his first serious wobble since taking over the leadership; his personal poll rating and the numbers for the Conservatives have sagged markedly since the succession of Brown to No 10. Although activists (including me) and MP's have been saying this was expected it is nonethless disappointing and could become a source of concern if maintained, even more so if there are any more carefully choreographed defections as rumoured.
The most important thing for team Cameron is to hold their nerve. Labour (and perhaps Lib dems) must be hoping that the modernisation project becomes derailed and the Conservatives lapse back to the clutches of the reactionary right wingers; some in the party will undoubtably see this as their chance to do exactly that.
On the other hand if Cameron can come through unscathed he will have shown that he can successfully whether a storm and that the modernisation of the party is unstoppable and permanent.
MENZIES CAMPBELL - The bookies say that the first leader to be replaced will be Mr Campbell- but given that he is 65 already this hardly rates as a big surprise.
Ming has the triple whammy of seeing his personal poll rating, his party poll rating and his internal party support dropping like a stone.
Partly this is down to his bookish style which seems oddly out of tune with modern Britain and partly it is because of his halting and uncertain leadership of the party - news of stalled talks with Brwon over power sharing was badly recieved in many quarters of his group -but mostly it is because a revitalised Labour vote is costing the Lib dems support - this is not Mings fault and may yet blow over if the Brown gloss should prove as short-lived as we think.
Having said that several Lib Dems that I know are privately hoping a bad summer will persuade Ming to step down of his own accord -especially once it is clear there is no early election.
My bet is that Gordon has the biggest headache every morning, having finally achieved his lifetime ambition how can he avoid being 'Jim Callaghan Mk 11' ?