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The second loss of a child abuse enquiry Chairman. A backbench backlash over the European Arrest Warrant – which isn’t all that popular in Downing Street or the Whips’ Office either. Revelations of enough illegal immigrants undeported “to fill Wembley Stadium almost five times over“. Politicians described as having had their “worst week ever” have seldom actually had it. But it is hard to think of a worse one than last week for Theresa May – notwithstanding Norman Baker’s welcome resignation.
Yet here she is – back on top of our monthly poll future Party leader poll. What is going on?
I think the best place to begin looking for an answer lies in the figures for previous months. Her last five scores have been 35, 30, 27, 25 per cent and, last month, 24 per cent – the same score as this month.
This is a story of the Home Secretary hitting a high in the poll after her astonishingly direct speech to the Police Federation and falling afterwards…before plateauing out.
Her rival for the top spot all year has been Boris Johnson. What’s been happening to his ratings?
For the Mayor, we have scores of 21, 18, 19, 27 and 22 per cent. His recent peak was after his declaration of intent to return to the Commons.
The movement between this month and last is thus is margin-of-error stuff – a tribute, in its way, to the consistency of the poll. May and Boris have been battling it out all year for the top spot: no-one else has got a look in since January, and Boris was the long-time leader in the survey before that. Before the start of 2014, Party member readers seemed to think that there was no other convincing contender around.
There are two ways of viewing the Home Secretary’s performance in the poll this year. The first is that those Party members readers think that she’s doing a good job in a legendarily disaster-vulnerable department. I set out some of the reasons for believing so on this site last week. The second is that she is a workmanlike front-runner in a lacklustre field. You must take your pick.
The rest of the ratings see Michael Gove moving back up to third – perhaps a consequence of the accomplished way he has taken to the role of Chief Whip. George Osborne is fourth and Sajid Javid fifth. David Davis is sixth – his lowest standing in the poll in my time as Editor of this site. But all these are also-rans: at present, this part of the survey is a two-horse race. Here are the scores in full:
Theresa May: 24 per cent.
Boris Johnson: 22 per cent.
Michael Gove: 11 per cent.
George Osborne: 10 per cent.
Sajid Javid: 9 per cent.
David Davis: 8 per cent.
Owen Paterson: 6 per cent.
Philip Hammond: 5 per cent.
Jeremy Hunt: 2 per cent.
Liam Fox: 2 per cent.
Chris Grayling: 1 per cent.