Is Blair best of a bad bunch?

Not surprisingly, Blair confirmed he would not be watching a TV drama that focused on his relationship with his chancellor. But he is very much in the minority. Most of us are watching their relationship extremely carefully and asking which of them will be prime minister in a few years’ time.

And it is something that matters to UK plc. Brown has proved himself a competent chancellor and Blair is currently doing himself no favours in the popularity stakes, if the opinion polls are to be believed. But, it would seem, that cuts no ice with UK finance directors.

Our exclusive survey this week shows that FDs do not see Iain Duncan Smith as a realistic candidate for Number 10, with only 11% backing him as the man for the top job. And there seems to be more truth than bluster in Charles Kennedy’s claim that Lib Dems are overtaking the Tories as the opposition. Some 20% of FDs back his candidacy. Significantly that’s exactly the same proportion that supports Brown.

But Blair is comfortably ahead with the support of 30% of our finance electorate. While that might be somewhat less than a majority, he does, at least beat apathy. Only 19% said they would support none of the candidates.

Paul Tonks of Hill McGlynn, may have backed the Liberal Democrats, but his reluctance to reach a firm conclusion best summed up the support-by-default views of many. ‘Tony can’t be trusted, Gordon definitely can’t be trusted. Ian who? Only leaves Charles Kennedy,’ he said.

So what do the results tell us? Well there’s good news. The ‘none of the above’ option did not top the poll. In the middle of the Hutton enquiry, that would have been understandable. But there’s bad too – there was little evidence of faith and absolute confidence in anyone.

It would be easy to draw conclusions along the lines of accountants voting for the status quo because of an innate professional conservatism (with a small ‘c’ of course). But it would be wrong to do so. It could be that Tony Blair simply does not appear to be as bad at running the country as his detractors believe. Especially when he’s lined up against the competition.


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