An ICM News of The World poll found that 57% of people thought Gordon Brown was responsible for the current shortfallin pension funds, with 44% of people saying that Brown’s handling of pensions will harm Labour at the next election.

Meanwhile, a BPIX poll conducted last month for the Observer for a special on ten years of Blair as PM, shows the public recording a negative verdict on his premiership. Only 6% of people rated Blair’s record as very good, with 20% rating him as a good PM. 29% said average, 21% poor and 21% very poor.

27% of people think the UK is a more successful place now than in 1997, but 38% disagree. Only 10% think the UK is more pleasant, with 61% disagreeing. 69% think Britain is more dangerous, 58% disagree that Britain is happier. The only areas where people do think that Britain has improved in the last ten years is attitudes towards minorities – 35% think the UK is better for disabled people, with 21% disagreeing; 51% think it is better for people from ethnic minorities, with 16% disagreeing and 61% think it is a better place for gays and lesbians, with only 5% disagreeing, though of course, for some people with socially conservative views these may not necessarily be seen as positive ratings for Labour.

Asked how they have performed on specific policy areas the economy emerges as Labour’s only saving grace. 38% of people think they have handled it well, with only 27% thinking they have done poorly, a positive rating of 7. In every other area BPIX asked about they had a net negative rating, on education minus 27, the environment minus 22, public sector reform minus 42, NHS minus 43, crime minus 51, transport minus 53. The lowest net rating for for “cleaning up politics and sleaze” – only 5% thought Labour had done a good job, with 67% thinking they had done poorly.

Asked about Blair’s biggest achievement, 23% said the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, suggesting that perhaps Blair may yet have a positive legacy in the public’s mind in at least one area (although the poll was conducted about a week after the Northern Ireland assembly elections, so it was having a huge amount of publicity at the time). Second was Bank of England independence and the stable economy, both on 11%. His biggest failure was, unsurprisingly, unambigiously seen as Iraq – named by 58% of people.

Asked to rate how much they liked or disliked Blair himself on a 0-10 scale, 66% said they disliked him, with 26% saying they liked him. 56% of people said their opinion of Blair had become more negative over the last 10 years. When asked what words they associated with Blair, 49% thought he was too associated with spin, 45% out of touch, 43% untrustworthy, 38% insincere. The highest positive associations were “his own man” on 17%, competent 14% and principled 12%.

57% of people think that Blair has already stayed in office for too long, with a further 22% thinking a Summer departure would be about right. Only 9% think he is going too soon. And the future? 25% of respondents thought that history would treat Blair kindly and that he reputation would improve with the passing of time…35% of respondents thought it would get even worse.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday times has voting intention, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, at CON 39%(nc),LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 16%(-1). The poll was conducted between Wednesday and Thursday, with the overwhelming majority of the fieldwork carried out after the news of the Iran hostage release. Full tables are available here.

A hypothetical question asking how people would vote with Brown as Labour lead has a slightly larger Tory lead, with the Conservatives on 40%, Labour on 30% and the Lib Dems on 14%. As ever, it is debatable how meaningful questions like this are as normal voting intentions don’t mention the party leaders: it could be just as much a Cameron or Campbell effect. In this case YouGov have asked a second hypothetical question asking how people would vote at the next election if Tony Blair remained Labour leader: CON 39%, LAB 32%, LDEM 15%. The question still can’t predict how Gordon Brown will actually score in the polls – people may see him differently once he is actually PM, but it does at least provide comparable figures – a Conservative lead of 10 points with Brown, or 7 points with Blair.

Interestingly, it tells a different story from when Populus did a similar experiment last year, when mentioning Blair and Cameron increased the Conservative lead compared to the standard question, but mentioning Brown increased it more. Now mentioning Blair and Cameron decreases the Conserative lead compared to the standard question. My guess is that the reason is that the ansers people give to pollsters when asked the standard voting intention is now starting to take into account the assumption that Brown will be Labour leader very soon, so is starting to converge towards the hypothetical Brown figures, with a Blair hypothetical question now showing a lower lead.

Following the recent budget and the negative press over the 1997 tax on pension funds, Brown also has a negative approval rating for his performance as Chancellor – 41% think Brown is doing a good well as Chancellor, 52% think he doing badly – a net approval rating of minus 11, the first time in a YouGov/Sunday Times poll that he has recorded a negative approval rating in his role as Chancellor. Tony Blair’s approval rating is minus 27, Cameron’s is plus 23 (his best rating since April last year) and Sir Menzies Campbell’s minus 18.

Asked who people would like to see succeeding Tony Blair as Labour leader, 22% of people perferred Gordon Brown, with David Miliband on 16%, Charles Clarke on 7%, Michael Meacher on 4% and John McDonnell on 2% – 49% of people said they didn’t know. David Miliband’s closeness to Brown in the question is largely down to opposition voters – amongst Labour supporters Brown is still the runaway favourite, on 55% compared to 12% for Miliband – though of course, with Labour 8 points behind in the headline voting intention figures many of those oppostion voters are people whose support they need to win back to secure a fourth term.

There is also an ICM poll in the News of the World and a BPIX poll (albeit on conducted in the middle of March) in the Observer which I’ll look at properly tomorrow.


The long awaited NOP poll on voting intention in the Welsh Assembly elections next month has support in the constituency vote at CON 23%(+3), LAB 36%(-4), LDEM 15%(+1), PC 20%(-1) and in the regional vote CON 24%(+5), LAB 35%(-2), LDEM 15%(+2), PC 20%(nc). Changes are from the shares of the vote at the last election in 2003.

Assuming the poll is correct – and there is no great track record of success in polls for the Welsh assembly – Plaid are not enjoying the same surge in support as the SNP in Scotland and Labour’s decline is not so precipitous. The main beneficary of Labour’s drop in support appears to be the Conservatives, who are now in a relatively clear second place in Wales.

ITV projects that, were the same shares of the vote to be reflected in the election next month, the Welsh Assembly would have 25 Labour AMs (-5), 14 Conservatives (+3), 12 Plaid Cymru (nc), 7 Liberal Democrats (+1) and 2 Independents (+1). Changes are from the number of AMs returned after the last election. This would probably leave Labour unable to continue as a minority administration without coming to an agreement with an opposition party.

UPDATE: Plaid have reacted by publishing some of their private polling, conducted by Beaufort Research. It’s voting intentions amongst those certain to vote are CON 14%, LAB 37%, LDEM 14%, PC 30%. It’s not clear which vote it refers to, but either way it shows a Plaid surge and a Conservative slump. We do not, of course, have any knowledge of how the poll is weighted or conducted (though Beaufort seem to specialise in face-to-face polling), or what the other polls that Beaufort have conducted and Plaid chose not to publish showed…

ITV have apparently commissioned an NOP poll on voting intention for the Welsh Assembly election next month that will be released on Thursday, the first and so-far only pointer we so far have of what might happen in the Welsh elections. There has been a glut of polls on voting intention in Scotland, but till now no one has seemed interested in polling in Wales. Anyway, according to a comment on Mike Smithson’s blog, the Thursday figures will be CON 24%, LAB 35%, LD 11%, PC 24%.

I have no idea of the source of the figures, how reliable they are, or whether they relate to voting intention in the regional or constituency vote. I guess we will find out on Thursday. For the record, in 2003 the constituency shares of the vote were CON 20%, LAB 40%, LDEM 14%, PC 21% and the regional shares were CON 19%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%, PC 20%.

UPDATE: Alas, the figure are wrong. We will have to wait till Thursday after all.