The Liberal Democrat leadership contest is still wide open, according to a YouGov poll commissioned exclusively for Sky News.The poll of 678 Lib Dem members finds Nick Clegg ahead with 56% of the vote among all those naming a candidate. However, the results show that Chris Huhne (44%) is still able to beat the front-runner as half the membership (52%) has not yet voted and many members remain undecided (24%).The general public, however, is unmoved by the Lib Dem race. Asked ‘who would make a better leader of the Liberal Democrats?’ 79% said they did not know (11% chose Nick Clegg, 10% Chris Huhne).
More than three-quarters of Lib Dem members (84%) want Charles Kennedy back on the front bench. And if neither Clegg nor Huhne were standing, Kennedy is considered the ‘best of the rest’ by a third of members (34%). Voter appeal, rather than competence or better policy programme, is key to Nick Clegg’s voting lead. Half of those polled (53%) think he has more voter-appeal than Chris Huhne who received nearly six times less votes in this area (9%). However, more members think Huhne has a better policy programme (28% to 19%). Asked if one of the candidates is ‘significantly more competent than the other’, 60% of members say there is not much difference on competence.
Paddy Ashdown is the best Liberal Democrat leader since the party was formed, according to over half of members polled (54%); followed by Charles Kennedy (37%). Most members think Ming Campbell is the worst (55%).Nearly half of members polled (49%) prefer Gordon Brown as Prime Minister than David Cameron (18%) and would prefer to side with Labour rather than the Conservatives in the event of a ‘hung parliament’. 44% would oppose a coalition with the Tories under any circumstances, while only 26% would oppose a similar deal with Labour.
The 'hung parliament' figures are very revealing and show that LibDem activists are well to the left of their MPs, This will give Chris Huhne heart, if more than half of them have still not voted.