Has Johnson recovered from the damning 2006 research?

Has Johnson recovered from the damning 2006 research?

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    How much of ICM’s and Luntz’s findings are still relevant?

If Alan Johnson was going to have any chance in the Labour leadership race he needed a poll boost from something like the Frank Luntz focus groups or the online session carried out by ICM and reported in the Guardian this morning. At this stage he needs something that will give him the status of a challenger.

For his problem is his very low public profile and the only way he could have got a foot-hold was by getting some good polling evidence that he would do better than Brown against Cameron.

    Alas reports of the ICM and Luntz sessions seem to have dashed his hopes and it is hard to see how he can come back.

This is how Julian Glover in the Guardian summed up the ICM panel’s assessment ..“Johnson, who is considering running, came across as friendlier but less clear-cut. “He seems like a smiley, cheery fellow to me but not a heavyweight politician,” said one member. Mr Johnson’s lack of a strong identity might change if he became a prominent challenger to Mr Brown. But he suffers for the moment as someone seen as “a bit 1970s”, “someone in the background with not much to say.” One Labour voter thought he looked like “a market trader”. Asked what kind of character he might play in a TV drama, one panelist said “one of those bumbling old jokey types from Coronation Street”.

On Newsnight tonight the Frank Luntz focus group will be screened but we get a foretaste of what it is going to show in an article he has written for today’s Times.

“..Alan Johnson has the perfect biography. Participants felt he had the right life-experience. And when he cracked a joke at David Cameron’s expense (“I was coming on these (TV) programmes without a tie when David Cameron was having a fag behind the bike shed at Eton”) he hit the right note. But for almost everyone, his presentation is, in a word, boring. They didn’t disagree with a word he said. His stated objective that “never again in this country will people have to chose between heating and eating” was certainly pleasing to the ear. But most participants felt his résumé spoke better than . . . well . . . his speaking.”

Meanwhile the Bloomberg news service has reported “..Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, walked out of a speech by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, accusing him of misleading the public about his relationship with the prime minister.As Brown told the Labour Party conference in Manchester that it had been a “privilege for me to work for” the premier, Mrs. Blair left the auditorium saying “well that’s a lie.’

Latest betting on the Labour leadership is here. I have now got rid of most of my Johnson position.

Mike Smithson

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