Over on PoliticsHome there is a daily poll of around 100 ‘political insiders’ – political editors, columnists, MPs, heads of think tanks and so on (there is a list of ‘outed’ members here but lots are anonymous). The theory behind it is not to reflect the opinions of political insiders (because after all, what is the universe of political insiders?), but to pick at their insider knowledge from the ‘Westminster bubble’. The results released today asked the panel to rank a selection of government ministers and government frontbenchers, the start of what will be a regular tracker.
The most highly ranked of them all was Vince Cable at 7.5/10, followed by Michael Gove who was practically workshipped by the panellists on the right and got the second highest rating from those on the left. The striking thing however was the contrast between perceptions of the Conservative top team compared to the Labour one. The only senior Labour minister who was highly rated was David Miliband on 6.1, following by the more junior James Purnell on 5.9 and Alan Johnson 5.8. Jacqui Smith’s average rating was 4.6 and Alistair Darling’s 4.0 – the lowest average rating of all of those tracked. Compare this to the Conservative’s main figures: Hague 6.4, Osborne 6.3 and Davis 6.2. This isn’t just partisan feeling – the Tories were even rated marginally better if you take the responses only of those panellists from the left – Miliband 6.8, Smith 5.3, Darling 4.4 compared to Hague 6.6, Davis 5.6 and Osborne 6.4.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that members of the public feel the same, an MP can be very respected amongst the Westminster commentariat and loathed and detested by the public, but given most of the public only see politics through the prism of the media, through their baises and opinions, in practice their opinions hold great sway with the rest of the electorate.