Brown’s leadership rating soars in poll after terrorist attacks

( Timesonline ) - Gordon Brown has got off to flying start as Prime Minister with his poll ratings as a leader and for strength soaring following his handling of the terrorist attacks.

A new Populus poll for The Times confirms the strength of the "Brown bounce", in contrast with a decline in David Cameron's leader rating.

Labour has gained four points to 37 per cent since early last month and the Tories are down two points at 34 per cent. The Liberal Democrats are up one point at 18 per cent and other parties down three points at 11 per cent. This is in line with two other recent polls and suggests that 14 months of a sustained Conservative lead has ended.

The Labour advance has fuelled talk of an early election, but Mr Brown has dismissed such speculation. He wants to establish his new Government and is likely to be cautious.

The danger for Mr Brown is that such a sharp rise in his and Labour's ratings cannot be sustained. The key then will be whether Labour can still stay ahead of the Tories. Although the questions were finalised before the terrorist attacks, the interviews were conducted after the London car bombs and were halfway through when the Glasgow attack occurred.

The number of voters regarding Mr Brown as strong has jumped by 14 points to 77 per cent over the past month. This compares with 43 per cent seeing Mr Cameron as strong, up by six points since early June.

The proportion saying that Mr Brown has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister has risen by 16 points to 57 per cent, compared with 37 per cent for Mr Cameron (up four points). Only 31 per cent say that they would rather have Mr Cameron as prime minister than Mr Brown, and 52 per cent disagree.

Mr Brown's rating on the Populus leader index has jumped sharply since early May from 5.00 up to 5.49 (on a scale of 0 to 10). This is the second highest since the index was created in February 2003, being exceeded only by Mr Blair's 5.75 in May 2003 immediately after the fall of Baghdad. Mr Brown gained entirely among nonLabour voters because his rating among Labour supporters has slipped slightly since May, from 6.96 to 6.88.

Mr Cameron's leader rating has declined for the third consecutive month, down from 4.95 to a new low of 4.81. Among Tory voters his rating has picked up a little since May, from 6.54 to 6.65.

The initial public response to the Brown Government is pretty positive, with 82 per cent being hopeful that Mr Brown's team "will really get to grips with the most important issues facing Britain". There is, however, an even split (42 to 42 per cent) on whether Mr Brown has "succeeded in bringing freshness and a sense of change and renewal to the Labour Government".

Mr Brown's decision to include outsiders as Lords ministers to show that he is creating "a government of all the talents" is seen as improving the way Britain is governed by 46 per cent, making it worse by 7 per cent, and no difference by 40 per cent.

A third (35 per cent) say that it will help to restore voters' confidence in politics, 9 per cent damage it and 49 per cent make no difference.

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