There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Economist - it was carried out prior to Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister, so we still await the first opinion poll actually conducted with Brown in office.
YouGov asked about whether people thought a Brown or Cameron government would or would not do a number of things. Looking at taxation first, Brown still has the reputation as a tax raiser: 53% think taxes will go up with him as PM, 31% think they’ll stay the same and only 2% think they will fall. That said, only 16% of people think Cameron will cut taxes (though of course, Cameron himself has repeatedly said the the Conservatives will be putting other considerations before tax cuts, so even that 16% may be people who are putting hope about expectation) and 35% think he would also increase taxes.
Having been custodian of the economy for the last ten years, Gordon Brown was unsurprisingly seen as likely to strengthen Britain’s economy by more people (38%) than David Cameron (27%). More surprisingly though, given the prominence Cameron has given to the issue since becoming Conservative leader, Brown and Cameron are equal on the issue of climate change (31% think Brown will help cut climate change, 34% think he won’t. 28% think Cameron will, 31% think he won’t, so they both have a net score of -3).
On every other issue Cameron is seen as likely to deliver by more people, though in most cases Cameron’s lead in the proportion of people who think he will deliver is small, and the real difference in the proportion of people who think they won’t. 26% of people think Brown will improve the NHS, 47% think he won’t – a net score of -21. 27% of people think Cameron will improve the NHS, 41% think he won’t – a net score of -14. On improving schools Brown’s net score is -16, Cameron’s -5. On protecting British interests in Europe Brown’s score is -8, Cameron’s is +5. On reducing immigration Brown’s score is -40, Cameron’s is +11.
The increasingly positive poll ratings that Gordon Brown is receiving elsewhere suggest that people wish him well and are willing to give him a chance, but these figures suggest that they don’t actually have very high expectations of him and in most cases think David Cameron is actually more likely to deliver. That isn’t necessarily a huge problem for Gordon Brown at the moment – he’s going to be riding high in the polls anyway and low expectations are easier to meet and easier to out-perform. He needs to make sure however, that by the that the public goodwill towards the new man in the job has faded, he has done something to convince the public he is more likely to deliver than David Cameron.