Leader and party image
Additional questions from Ipsos MORI’s recent monitor show that Gordon Brown’s leadership ratings have improved since September last year, while Cameron’s have declined. Clegg’s leadership attributes have improved but, despite his performance in the first debate, he still trails the leaders of the two main parties on all attributes (although he is seen as the most trustworthy).
Indeed, the only attribute with which Clegg is on parity with either of the other two leaders is that of understanding the problems facing Britain; a quarter (26%) think he does this best, and the same again think this of Cameron, while a third (33%) think this is true of Brown.
Almost half (45%) believe that Gordon Brown best understands world problems, while a fifth (22%) think the same of David Cameron, and 14% think this is true of Nick Clegg.
Brown is also seen as being best in a crisis; two in five (40%) feel this is true of him, compared with just over a quarter (28%) for Cameron. This is a reversal of the results from September 2009, when Cameron was perceived to be better in a crisis (37%, compared with 34% for Brown). Brown has also gained ground in being seen as most capable - he trailed Cameron by 6 percentage points in 2009 and now has a narrow lead of 3% - and is believed to be best at understanding the fine details of policies – 38% compared with Cameron’s 23%.
There is no clear consensus on who is most out of touch with ordinary people, (though Cameron was felt to be most capable and least out of touch in 2009). Cameron is believed to be most likely to promise anything to win votes (43% compared to Brown’s 36%).
However, around half (51%) believe that Cameron is ready to be the next Prime Minister, an improvement from the figure recorded in July 2008 (43%). Around half (47%) also believe that the Conservatives are ready to form the next government, in line with last month.
Clegg is seen to be the most trustworthy of the three leaders; two thirds (66%) believe this to be true of him, compared with around two fifths for Brown and Cameron (41% and 43% respectively).
The economy and public spending
Three-fifths (59%) believe that the government has done a bad job at managing the economy, compared with around two fifths (37%) who disagree. These proportions are a reversal of those recorded prior to the recession, in May 2007. A similar proportion (63%) now disagree that the Government has done a good job at handling taxation and public expenditure.
In terms of what will happen after the election, more people disagree that VAT, income tax and national insurance should be raised, and that spending on frontline public services should be cut. Yet most people think that either a Conservative or Labour government will do all of these – suggesting that unpopular decisions lie ahead.
Although more people disagree that a Labour government will increase National Insurance than say the same of the Conservatives, on balance more people expect the Tories to raise NI (47%) than disagree (41%). Similarly, more people expect a Labour government to cut spending on frontline services (56%) than disagree (36%). Despite campaign pledges, therefore, this hints at confusion about which party is responsible for which policy. Alternatively, this might suggest that, though both Labour and the Conservatives are basing their campaigns on, respectively, not cutting National Insurance and not cutting public spending, there is a suspicion amongst the public that these promises will not be upheld after May 7th.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,253 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 18-19 April 2010. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
Where percentages do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of “don’t know” categories, or multiple answers. An asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent. Voting intention figures exclude those who say they would not vote, are undecided or refuse to name a party and in the headline figures, those who are not absolutely certain to vote.