The Truth

Brown's Approval Rating Sinks as U.K. Economy Slows .........

added 12/4/08

By Mark Deen

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown's approval rating fell to the lowest since he came to office as the U.K. economy slowed and house prices dropped, a poll showed.

On a scale of one to 10, voters rate Brown's performance a 4.5, down from 4.59 a month ago, according to the Populus Ltd. poll in today's Times newspaper. Thirty-three percent would vote for the ruling Labour Party if an election were held now, compared with 39 percent for the main opposition Conservatives.

The figures underline the shift in support away from the government as voters in England and Wales prepare to choose representatives in local government elections on May 1. The economy, on which Brown built his reputation during a decade as finance minister, is heading for its worst performance since the last recession.

``It's not just about the economy but what it's doing to the general confidence in the government,'' Andrew Cooper, co- founder of Populus, said in an interview. ``The numbers are pretty bleak and it's hard to see how things get better for Brown.''

About 60 percent of those surveyed said they expect the British economy to fare badly over the next year, with the number expecting it to do well falling by a quarter since September to 39 percent. More than 40 percent said they expected their own personal financial situation to deteriorate.

Only 37 percent of respondents now say they regard the government as ``competent and capable,'' down from 56 percent seven months ago.

Today's poll shows that Brown is regarded as worse than his predecessor, Tony Blair, by 31 percent of voters. Blair, who stood down after leading the party for a decade, only once had an approval rating lower than the one Brown now holds, according to Populus. The poll was conducted April 4-6, using telephone interviews of 1,502 adults across the U.K. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.