Gordon Brown has always been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Until recently he had exceptionally positive approval ratings, and even with recent falls he still enjoys postive ratings – even more so when you compare them to the highly negative approval ratings registered by Tony Blair.

Thinking someone makes an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer though doesn’t necessarily equate to thinking the same person would make an excellent Prime Minister – they are different roles, a Prime Minister needs to lead and inspire the country in a way that the Chancellor doesn’t. Since David Cameron became Conservative leader polls have suggested that the Labour party would perform less well with Brown as leader than with Blair as leader – a reverse from earlier polls which suggested there would be a large “Brown boost” for the Labour party. It is still too early to tell if this is just a knock-on effect of Cameron’s honeymoon as leader.

YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times included a series of questions on Gordon Brown. The good news for Brown is that people think he will make a good Prime Minister by 40% to 34% and, perhaps more importantly, in a straight choice 43% would chose a Brown led-Labour government compared to 37% who would opt for a Cameron led-Conservative government.

People also tend to have positive opinions of Brown’s abilities as a politician – 39% of people think he is honest, with only 21% thinking him dishonest. 46% think he has run the economy well (21% think the opposite), and 39% think he does things for the good of the country, not just himself (30% think the opposite). People are less enamoured of Gordon Brown as a person, 39% of people think he is boring , 39% think he is remote and 53% think he is dour. It seems as though people respect Gordon Brown, but they don’t necessarily like him.

For the past 9 years Gordon Brown has been in a role that doesn’t really endear itself to excitement – a job that revolves around dry economics limits the opportunities for Brown to project himself as an exciting politician. Now that Brown is stepping out from his economic brief he may be able to transform his image. If not it will be interesting to see how his image does eventually play with the public. How much effect does image really have on a politician’s personality? In an age of television – and somewhat presidential – politics, does it matter if a party leader is seen as a dour, boring and remote, as long as they are seen as honest and capable?


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