Are we seeing the resurrection of Mr. Brown?

Are we seeing the resurrection of Mr. Brown?

Is he blamed unfairly for Labour’s defeat?

There’s a new book out by some of the main figures associated with Ipsos-MORI, Robert Worcester, Roger Mortimore, Paul Baines and Mark Gill, which seeks to offer further analysis of last years general election. It’s called “Explaining Cameron’s Coalition” and whenever I get a review copy I’ll be able to discuss it in more detail.

What’s being said about the book so far is that it suggests that the widespread perception that Gordon Brown was to blame is wrong. The Guardian notes:

• Brown’s “leader image” rating in 2010 was higher than William Hague’s in 2001 (-13.2) and Michael Howard’s in 2005 (-7.1).

• In most months before the election Brown’s satisfaction rating (the number of people saying they were satisfied with the way he was doing his job) was markedly higher than the government’s. Or, to be more accurate, his rating wasn’t as low as the government’s.

• At the time of the election Brown’s satisfaction rating was -26 (because 34% of voters were satisfied with him but 60% were not). Yet Blair’s satisfaction rating at the time of the 2005 election was -22. The authors say Blair’s ratings were falling from 1997 and that, even if Labour had not changed leader, it is likely that Blair’s would have been as low as Brown’s were by 2010.

I’m uneasy about Ipsos-MORI’s historical comparisons for the the firm underwent a major methodological review in June 2008 which had a big impact, on its findings and, being fair, is highlighted in its archives – see here.

The immediate impact was that who had only once recorded a 40% satisfaction level immediately shot up into the 50s and has not been in the thirties since.

There is little doubt, however, that Brown’s ratings moved sharply back in the months leading to the election and that certainly suggested a shifting back a bit towards Labour from the terrible lows of 2008/2009.

But Brown’s massive mistake for which he was punished dearly was letting briefings about an autumn 2007 election get out of the control with the effect that when the U-turn became clear his, and Labour’s position, didn’t get back.

My reading of all the elections polls, not just MORI, is that Labour was staging a recovery from last 2009 but that went into reverse on the day of the first of the TV debates. Labour was the biggest loser from those events.

Mike Smithson

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