Has this been Mr. Brown’s worst week?

Has this been Mr. Brown’s worst week?

More detail from Populus adds to the gloom

It was almost exactly three years ago, while Tony Blair was still Labour leader, that I did a thread “Why can’t Gordon do the “sincerity thing”? – on Brown’s inability to sound convincing when it is clear that he is telling porkies. I suggested that this was his greatest weakness.

That observed that for much of the time, of course, politics is about organised hypocrisy and that “a key quality in a leader is to be able to deliver the “sincerity” thing. You’ve got to be able to say things that at least sound plausible and that is where Gordon falls down badly.”

Since then as we’ve seen more of him this flaw has been magnified. The debacle over “cuts” has followed a whole stream of issues when it clear that the public and the media are being told lies and is now driving the media narrative against him. Journalists can go crazy when they are assumed to be so gullible that what is so obviously untrue is being spun from Number 10 and Mr. Brown.

And so to the final polling data of the week – the non-voting intention numbers from the September Populus poll in the Times.

One finding that will hurt is that when asked about whether Cameron and Brown are “light-weight” or “substantial” that it is now the PM who is coming off worse. Thus 39% said Cameron was lightweight and 56% as substantial. This compared with 59% saying Brown was “lightweight” and 38% “substantial”.

One of the remaining weapons in Number 10’s anti-Cameron armoury had been the lightweight charge and this poll seems to take even that away.

On almost every other measure when poll respondents were asked about the two leaders Mr. Brown came out a lot worse. My only cautionary note on these is that we are getting closer to the general election and we should expect opinion to firm up.

What’s going to happen at the Labour conference in Brighton? Can Brown turn it round there and if so how long will the unity last? Many of us recall how the then Tory leader, IDS, got a ringing endorsement from conference delegates in October 2003 only to be knifed by his party a few weeks later. Labour seems less ruthless about these things – maybe that’s Mr. Brown’s last remaining hope.

Mike Smithson

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