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Is Brown set for an invisibility boost?

August 7th, 2009

Was this the secret of his popularity as chancellor?

With a bit of luck there might be a weekend poll and if there is it could help us to answer one of the questions that is often posed – does seeing Gordon Brown or not seeing him on our screens everyday have an impact on Labour’s opinion poll ratings?

For both he and David Cameron have been away for getting on for a fortnight so any new survey would have been taken in the context of neither party leader getting much attention from the broadcasting media. There also have not been any major new issues that could complicate things.

During Brown’s ten years as chancellor he had, outside budget and PBR times, a relatively low public profile and he maintained very positive personal ratings throughout. As Prime Minister things are inevitably different and hardly a working day goes by in non-holiday periods without him being involved in one story or another.

This has been magnified in the past two years by Brown taking a much bigger role than his predecessor in announcing key policy changes rather than leaving it to ministers.

Labour’s best YouGov rating of 2009 was the 34% it got in a survey that ended on January 8th following the Christmas and New Year holiday period. This was only equalled in a poll that took place in the immediate aftermath of the London G20 meeting.

So what will the mid-month polls show? I find it hard to guess but if there is an “invisibility factor” then that should, surely, affect Labour’s general election planning.

Mike Smithson