Poll finds Brown gets little credit for the economy

Gordon Brown’s claim to have presided over a decade of economic growth is not shared by most people, a new poll suggests.

It reveals the chancellor’s record on the economy, which is seen as his main trump card in the race to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister, is not as good as he thinks.

An ICM poll for The Guardian finds that just 37 per cent of voters give Mr Brown the credit for Britain’s economic success since Labour was elected in 1997.

And just 49 per cent of people credit Labour for the prosperity of the past eight years, compared to 41 per cent who believe their policies have made little difference.

The chancellor has kept a low profile this summer, mainly because of the birth of his son, James Fraser. Tony Blair has dealt publicly with the crisis in Lebanon and home secretary John Reid has taken the lead on the recent terror alert.

An analysis of the past two weeks’ press coverage by researchers LexisNexis revealed that Mr Reid had been mentioned 1,282 times, second only to the prime minister’s 2,819 references and far more than Mr Brown’s count of 795.

The home secretary’s high profile following the alleged plot to blow up several transatlantic flights has increased speculation that he might challenge Mr Brown for the Labour leadership, although many believe this is still unlikely.

Meanwhile, today’s poll finds general disagreement with the government’s claims to have made a significant impact on tackling poverty, or to have improved employment prospects in the UK.

Just 29 per cent of respondents said they thought it was easier to find a job today than in 1997, compared to 57 per cent who disagreed. This may reflect recent rises in unemployment, despite the fact that, as more people enter the job market, employment is also continuing to increase.

And in a damning indictment for a Labour government, just 36 per cent said they thought fewer people lived in poverty than when the Conservatives were running the country, compared to 57 per cent who disagreed.

Yesterday, a similar ICM poll put Labour on its lowest rating for 19 years, at just 31 per cent – nine percentage points behind David Cameron’s Tories, and just nine ahead of the Liberal Democrats.