In the October ConservativeHome survey of 1,206 Conservative Party members, 53% voted for John Howard as their favourite centre right leader in the world today.  19% for Nicolas Sarkozy.  10% for George W Bush.  Another 10% for Angela Merkel.  8% for Stephen Harper.  If more of you knew about Stephen Harper, I think more of you would be impressed.

The polls from downunder have looked pretty grim for Australia’s Prime Minister but, writing for today’s Telegraph, Simon Heffer thinks it would be wrong to write him off.  The polls have certainly narrowed since the start of the campaign but John Howard’s Coalition is still 8% behind.

Alex Deane, David Cameron’s former chief of staff and occasional ConservativeHome contributor, is working for the Liberals in Victoria at present.  Alex has been writing a very good guide to the elections over at Iain Dale’s Diary.  His latest reports are here.

And, in other international news, today sees the publication of Mike Gerson’s Heroic Conservatism.  Mr Gerson, former chief speechwriter to George W, believes that the Republican party cannot survive if it is simply libertarian.  He writes this today from his regular perch at the Washington Post:

"What does a narrow, anti-government conservatism have to offer to urban neighborhoods where violence is common and intact families are rare? Very little. What hope does it provide to children in foreign lands dying of diseases that can be treated or prevented for the cost of American small change? No hope. What achievement would it contribute to the racial healing and unity of our country? No achievement at all."

Passages like that will only enrage Ron Paul-style Republicans and add to the growing tensions within the Republican coalition but I think Gerson is largely right.