A new YouGov poll in the Sunday Times has Labour on the up again – the headline voting intention figures with changes from the last YouGov poll are CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 14%(-1). Obviously we are in a period of flux, and any explanation for the reasons behind the changes in the polls are largely speculation, but given where we are in the handover my personal gues is that we are now beginning to see an improvement in Labour’s position in the polls due to Brown’s imminent takover, rather than the “Blair boost” from straight after resignation announcement.

Looking at the details of the poll, on which man they would trust more on major issues (a figure that sometimes differs from which party people would trust more) Gordon Brown predictably leads on the economic issue of taxation (the economy in general wasn’t asked about, but I suspect Brown would have had a stonking great lead on it). On the NHS – once a “Labour issue” but one where the Conservatives have recently caught Labour when respondents are asked which party they prefer, Brown has a substantial lead over Cameron. He also leads on education, another “soft” issue that the Conservatives poll well on these days.

Cameron leads decisively on immigration, despite saying little (perhaps suggesting it is still an issue that the Conservatives have ownership of, they don’t need to say anything about it, people think they are the better party on it anyway…though of course, once that applied to Labour and the NHS). He has a smaller, but still significant, lead on another traditionally Tory issue of law and order.

Finally, on the issue of relations with Europe – a low profile issue in recent years but with promises to be one of Gordon Brown’s first tricky issues after entering Downing Street – the two ment are almost even, with Brown ahead by only 2 points, 23% to 21%. On the question of the European treaty presently being negotiated to replace the defeated constitution, 70% of respondents thought a referendum should be granted on any treaty (including 56% of Labour supporters) and, if a treaty included such things as the Charter of Fundemental Rights, a permanent EU President and the removal of the veto on policing, justice and immigration, 43% say they would vote against it, 21% in favour.

On the image of the two men we see the normal pattern. More people see Brown as strong and decisive, but hardly anyone thinks he is charismatic. Few see Cameron as particularly strong or decisive, but he is seen as charismatic. On most of the comparisons in this survey Brown comes out top…but it largely depends upon what you ask. You might remember one for the Guardian earlier this year where Cameron beat Brown on nearly every measurethat was hyped up as being awful for Brown. This poll asked things like strong, decisive, good in a crisis, sticks to what he belives in – the sort of measures where Brown comes out top. Apart from charismatic, it didn’t ask about words like likeable, caring, forward-looking, etc, where we know from past experience that Cameron normally rates batter than Brown. The bottom line is that we have a pretty clear picture these days of where the strengths and weaknesses are in the two mens’ respective public images. I’m still waiting for a survey with directly comparable image questions from just before Blair’s resignation, to see how Brown’s image has changed over the last month.

Worrying news for Gordon Brown in the poll is the question of his legitmacy. Only 35% of people think he has a mandate to govern Britain as the leader of the party that won the last election, 53% think he does not. To a large extent these are partisan answers, with lots of that 53% made up of Conservative supporters. However, 18% of current Labour supporters think Brown has no mandate to govern. In a similar vein, 57% of people think Brown should call an early election having become Prime Minister, including 22% of Labour supporters.

Finally, 85% of people don’t like the 2012 Olympic logo :)


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