Looking at the rest of the questions in the ICM poll, they are unremittingly dire for the Prime Minister. 45% of people who voted Labour in 2005 think the government are not “working in the interests of people like me”. 71% of people think they have run out of ideas (including 39% of people who voted Labour in 2005). 68% think they don’t deserve to win the next electon (including 41% of people who voted Labour). 68% don’t think they are taking the country in the right direction, 67% think they are more divided than the Tories.

It’s a shame ICM didn’t ask a “time for a change” question, but I suspect agreement would be overwhelming now. The mood seems to have swung decisively against Labour.

ICM also asked whether Brown or Cameron would be better in various circumstances and criteria. On every measure Cameron topped Brown, decisively so in terms of having potential as PM, being able to work with colleagues, and by 6 points on being able to make the right decisions when the going gets tough (the sort of question that would once have favoured Brown) and on honesty.

Finally ICM asked people who compare Gordon Brown as a leader against various past PMs and party leaders. Unsurprisingly people thought Brown was a worse leader than Tony Blair by 22% to 67% and Thatcher by 61% to 34%. More cuttingly, he was also seen as a worse political leader than John Major by 51% of people (36% thought he was better). Still, at least he was narrowly better than William Hague (by 48% to 40%), Charlie Kennedy (by 53% to 34%) and poor old Iain Duncan Smith (by 58% to 28%).

26 Responses to “At least he’s better than IDS”

  1. Tories will gain 11 seats in Scotland afterall!

    YouGov/Sunday Times
    Westminster voting intention – Scotland
    sub-sample size = 148
    fieldwork: 15-16 May 2008

    1. SNP 30% (+12%)
    2. Con 28% (+12%)
    3. Lab 25% (-14%)
    4. LD 14% (-9%)
    5. Grn 1% (n/c)
    oth 2%

    … giving, according to Baxter’s UNS model, seat distribution:

    1. Lab 21 seats (-19 seats)
    2. Con 15 seats (+14 seats)
    3. SNP 14 seats (+8 seats)
    4. LD 8 seats (-3 seats)
    5. Speaker (Martin) 1 seats (n/c)

  2. Heard IDS on the Radio this morning – while I wasn’t wholly in agreement with what he was saying, he came across and very measured, considered and informed. He really seems to have found a niche for himself through his think tank and is now making more sense and a better contribution than when we picked him as the ‘not Ken Clark’ leader.

  3. “… giving, according to Baxter’s UNS model, seat distribution:”


    If you believe the 28% figure for the Tories or that any one of the UK calculators can give accurate predictions for Scotland with a strong fourth party.


  4. I feel sorry for Iain Duncan Smith – his becoming Conservative leader was completely eclipsed by 9/11 and it went on from there. From what I recall he barely got a mention in the news during his time as leader, which didn’t do him justice.

  5. IDS is an interesting parallel to GB-promoted to a position he was totally unsuited for , after completely misjudging his own credentials to carry it out, and persuading his Party to share that misjudgement.

    His subsequent transformation into (arguably) the leading expert on UK social ills & how to address them has made him a significant & convincing figure in UK politics now-with I hope, a major contribution to make in his chosen field under a Cameron administration.

    What, I wonder, might Gordon Brown’s route to rehabilitation look like , assuming Milburn et al wield the dagger?

  6. [i]From what I recall he barely got a mention in the news during his time as leader, which didn’t do him justice.[/i]

    Actually from what I remember he was in the news all the time, always in the headlines–but for the wrong reasons: I remember loads of headlines about “senior sources” in the Conservative party saying it was time IDS went; that there would be a stalking horse against him; that he was rubbish at speech-making, etc etc. This went on for ages until they finally voted him out. I only remember it because I was studying politics at the time and was advised by my teacher to pay close attention to political news.

  7. Nicholas, from those paying close attention to UK politics maybe he did seem to be in the news all the time, but then I recall a couple of contestants on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” unable to think of his name.

  8. Met some Labour activists tonight and the message was that Gordon is the problem and Gordon’s got to go. If the Crewe election is as bad for Labour as expected things could get interesting. The ICM survey results are appalling for the PM with even Major scoring higher. The possibility of the man who schemed so hard for the top job actually holding the job for a shorter time than virtually all (if not all) his predecessors is very sad in a funny sort of way.

  9. It has to be said, though, would any of his potential replacements want the job right now? Perhaps better to wait until the defeat comes, and come back in 2015 with “even newer labour”?

  10. 601 , thanks – at last , i have recognition – and a POLL to back it up on the seats that are going to be won in Scotland – even though Cllr.CAIRNS wanted to shut me up on the subject.

    I see the POLL predicts 15 seats / my last updated estimate was 12 seats in total (and just for you Cllr.CAIRNS) – the new seats won’t all come from Labour & the Liberals !!

    Onto this topic – it would’nt matter now if Gordon Brown went – the voters want rid of this government whether he is leader or not / if there was a leadership battle now – they would look divided and even less likely to gain popular support – they are doomed whatever decision they make.

    I make another prediction – that this could well see the breakup of the Labour Party as we saw when the SDP broke away / this time they will not re-emerge , but will becaome the third party of politics with the Liberals becoming the 2 party of British politics .

  11. Mike-if your latest prediction comes to pass-and I think it might-Brown will have a place in history as the man who, in a few short months of his premiership, destroyed the Labour Party.

    Blair would never have authorised the “Toff” campaign in C&N. He tried to make the Labour Party a centre-left party of aspiration ,enterprise & social justice.

    The C&N campaign takes Labour back to it’s class based roots, fighting an enemy which no longer exists, and valuing a person’s background more highly than their ideas.

    Brown said on radio yesterday “These things happen in bi-elections”-as though the ploy emerged by chance and he had nothing to do with it!


    Today The Times reports an IFS study on the vast range of taxpayers who will still lose out after Darling’s u-turn-and the even larger swathe who will be hit in the pocket next tax year, when the one off increase in tax free allowances ceases.


  12. Can I appeal to people to try to keep things non-partisan. I know a lot of Labour posters are going to feeling like licking their wound rather than putting their heads above the parapet, I know Tory supporters are going to have their tails up, but try to keep to a sensible discussion rather than dancing on Brown’s grave.

    Yep – it’s a difficult line at the moment – you can hardly talk about political reality without saying harsh things about Brown’s popularity – but remember we want to keep Labour supporters feeling welcome to contribute too!

  13. I’m quite happy to stick my head above the parapet it’s just there’s not a lot to add really. I think Gordon Brown will win a massive majority and the Toff campaign is mature and effective politics! ??? Doesn’t seem very convincing does it?

    In my humble opinion, if I was Brown, I would forget about the next election altogether and get through as many policies that I really believed in before the Tories get in and reck it. I understand a little bit of cross dressing on the margins to win a few extra votes but if you go so far down that route that people can’t tell the difference then you may as well just let the other side in. I think that’s the stage we’re at now and I think it’s very sad.

  14. I don’t feel at all wounded by partisan remarks, just a bit sorry for people who get their kicks out of parading their blinkered, one-sided world-views. Nor do I feel “bravce” in sticking my neck out!

    My main feeling is one of anxiety about the fact that popular perception (rather than analytical research) has been driving policy-making, but….

    The embryology/abortion debate yesterday seemed to let slip the bonds of whipped up party-partisanship and made the country seem a better place, politically (whatever you think of the result of the votes)

    I’d like to see a similarly detailed debate about tax. We seem to be subjected to too much blaggery and not enough detail, too much accusation and counter-accusation.

    Philosophically I think Labour has a winning position on tax. For instance, Brown’s tax-credit system is there to ensure that the poorest don’t gain less than the wealthiest (who benefit more from simple threhold rises)

    In contrast, the proposed Tory stamp-duty and IHT changes will ensure that the wealthiest gain more than anyone below the very high thresholds. (that’s not an accusation, just a simple fact)

    Brown should come clean and start to wear his re-distributive heart on his sleeve now. The more distance between the two main parties, the better, and Cameron is signalling that he’d appreciate a much more radical set of policies to debate.

  15. To some extent I agree with thee comments. I am not particularly a labour or conservative supporter but if I were Brown I would just try to relax and pursue my agenda in an honest and open way. He has done a few good things in the last year, although they have mostly gone unnoticed amongst the troubles..

    Who knows – by doing that he may even win back some support… leadership takes confidence.

  16. John tt

    As an approach to the next two years I go along with all of this. However, I really think that GB is not the man who can convincingly sell this to the great British public…..not now anyway. The 10p tax debacle is having the same effect as Major’s ‘Black Wednesday’ debacle although of course it’s not remotely comparable in it’s impact on the real economy in the real world.

    Labour still has a good story to tell, good enough anyway to ensure that there’ll be no Tory overall majority at the next GE, it’s just that a good story can be ruined by a bad story-teller.

  17. It’s the “honest and open” bit that is one of the main challenges for Brown. He lost the respect of many over the non-election debacle. Re-gaining that respect from people, once lost, is much harder than winning it for the first time.

    I still think two and a bit years is long enough to swing it around!

    That better, Anthony? :)

  18. First time I’ve been edited-apologies Anthony!

  19. “Re-gaining that respect from people, once lost, is much harder than winning it for the first time.”

    Yes I’m sure you’re correct john.
    And of course the media are a very important factor too-one can be disliked by the media but still have their respect.

    But if a politician loses the respect of the media the news coverage destroys everything for them.

    Reference Gordon Brown’s comment on Labour’s election strategy in C&N-“These things happen in bi-elections”-Adam Boulton’s Blog expresses the view that :-

    “.. if it’s true that Steve (McCabe) didn’t particularly relish the “poisoned chalice” in the first place, it’s probably also true that the “Tory toffs” strategy – and the refusal to ditch it when it became clear that it wasn’t working – was not his decision, but one taken at the very top of the Labour Party and possibly by Gordon Brown himself.”

    This I think is an example of the difficulty you highlight.

  20. So, if (big IF!) Brown had commented “I thought it was a reasonable tactic” and gone on to describe other daft by-election antics as examples, and treated it a something reasonably trivial and tongue-in-cheek, then he would have defused the issue and risen in people’s estimation.

    I didn’t see or hear it, but I imagine he didn’t go down the confident leader route by accepting a bit of the criticism and defusing the issue with a hint of charm?

  21. Yes John-exactly.

    I thought Blair had that ability-to turn a difficult argument with a self deprecating smile.
    He may have left you thinking -“Does he seriously expect me to believe that” -but in a “cheeky sod-how does he get away with it?” frame of mind-and at least you smiled while contemplating the question.

    With GB it’s the same question -but there are no knowing smiles.

    Somehow it seems to make a difference-I mean supposing last October he had said-“Election?-not now -you must be joking-we might lose it-so we will press on with governing the country while we expose the reality behind David Cameron’s fine words “

  22. That approach would have been more difficult for Cameron to deal with.

    I learnt this leadership/confidence stuff at school (not Eton, but independent) and it’s obvious that Cameron and Blair did too. Not taught as a subject, but the “knowledge” is definitely imbued.

    I find it so frustrating that what comes as second nature to “toff-educated” people (like me) is actually eminently learn-able in later life by people who have a modicum of common sense.

    For some reason Brown eschews it, thinks of it as slippery spin. It isn’t, it’s respectable, mature negotiation skills at work.

    Would Brown have brought the Northern Ireland peace process forward in the way that Blair did? I don’t think so. (I don’t think Major would have been able to either, for the same reasons).

  23. john tt

    Your last paragraph is interesting.

    I have always disliked “triangulation”-Blair’s approach to politics by aiming at a point between opposing principles in order to broaden voter appeal.

    I felt that -ultimately-it was exposed as the politics of no particular principle.

    But I have to concede that Blair’s approach in Northern Ireland was the right one.To see Paisley & McGuiness , the very antithesis of triangulation, sitting down together in harmony, is a revelation.

    I don’t think Brown could have achieved this-a much better sense of humour than he posesses must have been a key factor!

    It will be interesting to see whether Blair can repeat the process with the Palestinians & Israelis.

  24. He’d call it “the third way”, and although it’s vulnerable to the charge of lacking principle, I think the proof is in the actual results of policy – he did actually put policies into practice that were born of his own vision of how things should be. Equally despised by the left and the right is better than being vaguely tolerated by both sides.

    I’m not sure Blair’s way can work either in the Middle East. There was a strange mix of unionism and catholicism that was part of his baggage in Northern Ireland, and his team was well-picked too.

    In my view the skill lies in being able to convey your own vision as though it’s (almost) the same as the person’s you are persuading. It requires finesse and charm, an ability to think on your feet and an ability to listen. That in turn requires a command of the brief. Working backwards, if Brown knows his brief, he needs to practise some simple listening techniques and have the confidence to drop his guard. It’s not that difficult.

  25. john-interesting comments as ever.

    Yes your last paragraph puts it well-though I disagree with your last sentence.

    It seems to me that those abilities cannot easily be learned. They are inherant in character-which is influenced by background-in turn influenced by education.Confidence too is a huge factor I think.

    No doubt Fettes College, and dare one say, Eton,are advantages in this regard by comparison with Kirkcaldy High School?

  26. Absolutely. Confidence can’t be taught, though many charlatans make a great living out of trying, but it can grow on its own, given the right growing conditions, and it’s a fact that Eton is fertile. It’s good to see they are at the forefront of developing partnerships with state schools.