More from this month’s YouGov poll in Monday’s Telegraph , largely about public perceptions of Gordon Brown. The overall findings contain nothing new – Brown is seen as intelligent, effective, competent and decisive, but also divisive, gloomy and dull.

More interesting is whether or not the leadership campaign (if you can call it a campaign without any rivals) so far has succeeded in improving Brown’s image. 22% of people said that Brown had made a favourable impression upon them since announcing his candidacy, 20% said he had made a negative impression – I suspect those answers will be largely partisan, with the 22% of positive answers mostly existing Labour supporters backing “their guy”. More interesting is the way the answers to the questions about Brown’s public image have changed since they were last asked in September 2006.

First the positives: Brown’s net scores on being effective and competent have barely changed since last September at +10 and +28 (compared to +11 and +27 in September), his net score on being decisive is up to +35 from +28 in September. Some of Brown’s negatives are also unchanged – he isn’t any more trusted than in September (-18 now, -19 then), and is barely seen as more able to unite the country (-31 now, -33 then) or cheerful (-32 now, -34 then).

In some areas those his public perception has improved. His net score on being “concerned for the country as a whole” rather than just himself was minus 23 in September 2006, now it is only minus 10. His net score on being caring was minus 6 last September, now it scrapes into positive territory at plus 1. Finally, the big question of whether Brown has made himself any more likeable – back in September his net score was minus 19, now it is only minus 8.

So, has the Brown PR offensive made people warm to him? Certainly they seem to like him more than last September, but I’m not quite sure it’s down to the last couple of week’s activities. The September questions were conducted just after Tom Watson’s resignation, widely percieved as an abortive “Brownite coup”, with saw perceptions of Gordon Brown drop sharply. The increase in Brown’s ratings since then could just as much be the result of his image recovering from the events of last September and they could be the result of the last couple of weeks’ campaign. Still – I can’t image all these same sort of questions won’t be asked again when Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister and we’ll see then if his image really has improved.


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