Anthony Barnett (London, OK): One has to chuckle. The excellent ePolitix has just completed a survey of more than a thousand of its well-connected users and "only 15 per cent think the Conservative leader will make it to Number 10 - while 62 per cent think he never will". This judgement reinforces the current running poll of polls in UKPollingReport. There is many a slip, of course and Guido Fawks has placed £50 of his ill-gotten gains on Brown losing the next election citing the coming economic crash. It seems to me that this is a case of GF projecting his pyromania onto the voters. If the economic cycle nose-dives, most people will stick with Brown 'for fear of worse' - after all, even die-hard Tories may think twice about putting the country into the hands of an inexperienced Tory environmentalist if world capitalism is crashing around us. Cameron has positioned himself as a luxury item.
However, the reason I'm chuckling is that I recalled the lionisation of Frank Luntz, an American polling expert brought across by Newsnight to reveal the dark arts of Washington to a trembling and grateful subject nation. In 2005 he was credited with selecting David Cameron himself as the people's Tory. Last September I watched with disbelief his Newsnight focus group identify John Reid as the sure-fire voters favorite. I think he was even given a cover story in the Spectator. Perhaps it was Luntz who helped persuade Cameron that Brown was a grumpy figure of the past who was bound to be unpopular.