Peter Hoskin

The bullying story keeps on rolling, but will it affect the polls?

The bullying story keeps on rolling, but will it affect the polls?
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Much confusion on the digital grapevine, last night, about YouGov's latest daily tracker poll.  Turns out, it doesn't have the Tories leading by twelve – but, rather, the positions are unchanged from the poll in the Sunday Times.  So that's the Tories on 39 percent, Labour on 33, and the Lib Dems on 17.  A six point gap between the two main parties.

The poll was conducted between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning – so, after the bullying story broke, but, perhaps, too soon for it to have filtered through to the public consciousness.  Even so, Labour will be encouraged by what they see.  A below-headline question has more people rating Brown as "passionate" than a "bully" (by 28 percent to 24).  And the six-point gap is more evidence that we're actually in hung parliament territory, even if that does change soon.

So far as the bullying story is concerned, I suspect there's a fiendish political paradox at play.  Yes, the story will need to keep on rolling for it to have any effect – and it's doing just that, this morning, with insights from Rachel Sylvester ("I was once even told that he had broken a chair after reading one of my columns"), among others.  But the longer it keeps going, the greater the risk of public fatigue, and – who knows? – some folk may even start feeling sorry for the PM.

I'm not condoning Brown's alleged actions.  Far from it.  But given how people feel about the political classes (including, perhaps, the political media), they're probably less inclined to tune into the group's internal back-and-forths.  So, in a very peculiar way, Brown may end up benefitting from the timing of all this.  The next few polls will give us a clearer idea.