The inherent danger in being the Lib Dem leadership "front runner"

There used to be a time when it was good to be seen as the favourite, the early pace setter or the front runner, but recent political battles tell us otherwise, and I have got the impression the Nick Clegg camp are starting to talk down the "front runner" status of their man whilst the press try to talk up Nick Clegg's chances, possibly because they fear him the most and by promoting his "favourite" status, they hope to weaken his electability or possibly it is also just out of sheer laziness. After all, the press did for Ming, and now they want to say they chose his successor.

This "No, I'm not the favourite" strategy from both Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg comes from an awareness of the fact that favourites have been caught out badly in recent times. Just look at David Davis, Tory front funner and clear favourite to be the Tory leader. Suddenly, a poor speech, some rrather sudden momentum for an also ran candidate, and Davis finishes the campaign in a limp second place.

Then there was Michael Portillo in 2001. A clear favourite to succeed William Hague as leader, and he didn't even make it to the final run off. Again, the tag of "favourite" did little to help him.

In recent weeks other politicians have realised that it might be possible to scupper someone's chances by claiming that they are "favourite" or touting themselves around with that title. I give you the example of Tom Watson, who appeared to me to be claiming a few weeks ago that Iain Dale was favourite to succeed Ann Widdecombe in Maidstone and The Weald. Anyone who reads Iain Dale's blog will know that he has done nothing of the sort, indeed, Iain is no mug and knows full well that if he did tout himself around as "the favourite", then that would almost certainly scupper any chance.

So what is the truth in the Lib Dem leadership campaign ?

For me, the best start to the campaign, particularly in the e-campaign, has been from Chris Huhne, whose "bloggers for Chris" group from the last leadership campaign, seem to have re-ignited themselves very quickly. Despite this, I think Nick Clegg is still the favourite, but not by as much as the bookies would insist and I do think Chris has had the better publicity so far.

So is Nick the real favourite ? Well Betfair think so, but then again, they had Lewis Hamilton down as favourite too. I guess it proves the rule that you should always back the underdog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another essay length story ignored by your fellow Liberals Nick. I guess you wonder why you bother.