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Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 15:58 GMT
Politicians left drinking alone
Tory leader William Hague
Would you buy this man a drink?
Nick Assinder

Voters would rather drink alone than share a pint with any of Britain's three political leaders, according to a poll for BBC News Online.

Which party leader would you like to share a drink with?
Tony Blair 27%
William Hague 20%
Charles Kennedy 25%
None of them 37%
Those asked could make more than one choice
Despite William Hague's 14-pint-a-day boast, "Champagne" Charlie Kennedy's reputation and Tony Blair's rock-and-roll past, punters just don't fancy a night on the tiles with them.

According to the ICM survey, only 27% would like to share a drink with Tony Blair, compared to 25% for Mr Kennedy and just 20% for Mr Hague - while 37% said they would rather pass altogether.

The figures suggest that if Mr Hague was trying to strike a chord with ordinary folk when he boasted about drinking 14 pints a day as a teenager, he has sadly failed.

And they add to the impression that voters still hold politicians in low regard - traditionally somewhere at the bottom of the popularity stakes along with journalists and estate agents.

Honest and sincere

But this was not the only bad news for the nation's would-be leaders.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Kennedy is the "most sincere"
The poll also found that most voters believe they are out of touch, dishonest and insincere.

Of those polled, 34% claimed the leaders did not understand their needs while 38% said they would not describe any of the leaders as honest.

The exception is Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who is viewed as the most honest and sincere of the three.

His showings of 33% and 34% respectively in the honesty and sincerity stakes suggest his relaxed, one-of-us image has paid dividends with voters.

Which of the main party leaders would you describe as arrogant?
Tony Blair 46%
William Hague 48%
Charles Kennedy 7%
None of them 19%
Those asked could make more than one choice
There is some good news for Tony Blair, who is still viewed as the most charismatic, while Mr Hague scores top marks as the most arrogant leader.

The prime minister also wins out as the strongest and most understanding of the three.

And Mr Kennedy will be delighted that he has won the mantle as the straightest man in the pack.

But these are small personal victories which are probably overwhelmed by the view of politicians as people you would rather not bump into in the local.

ICM polled 1,033 adults in England, Scotland and Wales between Tuesday, 24 April and Tuesday, 1 May - 270 of them by telephone and the rest by email.

The BBC News Online 1000 will continue to give their opinions on political issues over the coming weeks of the election campaign.


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