Peter Hoskin

On a scale of 0-5, how much does this look like leadership positioning?

On a scale of 0-5, how much does this look like leadership positioning?
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Scoopmeister Paul Waugh has a cracking developing story over at his blog.  He revealed earlier that Harriet Harman's people have been canvassing Labour party members with questions like:

"Who do you think is the best person to sell the Labour party?"

"On a scale of 0 to 5, how do you rate Harriet Harman?"

But, now, it turns out that there was another question on the list:

"On a scale of 0 to 5, how do you rate Gordon Brown?"

Smells fishy, doesn't it?  Team Harman are claiming that she's just trying to keep in touch with the Labour grassroots, but it's very difficult not to see this as leadership positioning on her part.  You can just imagine her sauntering into Brown's office, clutching a clipboard, and saying, "Well, Gordon, my internal polling shows that..."

But even if there isn’t any subversive intent behind these questions – and that's a big "if" – it's astonishing that Harman didn't first think about How They'd Look.  With her summer turn as stand-in PM widely seen as a pitch for the party leadership, she should have steered clear of any similar controversy.  While the last thing the current leader needs right now is his deputy asking voters to mark him out of five.