Brown’s reputation tainted by ‘sleaze’

The Labour government is now seen as tainted with sleaze, as the latest poll suggests David Cameron is regarded as a more capable politician than Gordon Brown.

In what for Labour will be an alarming echo of the end of the Major government, more than half of the electorate think the government has been hit by scandal.

Nearly six in ten adults say Gordon Brown is ‘sleazy’, compared to 28 per cent who think David Cameron is associated with sleaze and 15 per cent who think Vince Cable has acquired an air of scandal.

The ICM poll, conducted for Newsnight, suggests the slew of negative headlines surrounding the government has significantly affected Mr Brown’s image.

While he gained a reputation as a problem solver in his first months in office, just 43 per cent now think Mr Brown is cut out to be prime minister.

The poll suggests Mr Cameron is finally succeeding in positioning himself as prime minister-in-waiting, with 41 per cent saying the Tory leader is cut out to run the country.

Furthermore, 43 per cent said he is the most competent party leader, narrowly beating Mr Brown’s approval rating of 21 per cent.

Just eight per cent said Mr Cable, who stands down as acting Liberal Democrat leader this month, was the most competent party leader.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults who were told to ignore their party preference and consider which party leaders have been tainted by sleaze.

It concurs with a ‘poll of the polls’ by the Independent, which places the Conservatives on 39 per cent, Labour on 32 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 17 per cent.

It remains unclear whether the government has been worst hit by the anonymous donation row, the security lapse at HMRC, or the cumulative effect of negative press since the cancelled ‘snap election’.

The funding row has continued to rumble on, with Peter Hain admitting he failed to declare further donations to his failed deputy leadership campaign.

The work and pensions secretary said it was “deeply regrettable” and he is now preparing a report for the Electoral Commission.

Meeting with Labour MPs in a bid to boost morale last night, Mr Brown said he was “furious” at the proxy donor scandal and promised to reform party funding “quickly”.

The Conservatives have said they will only rejoin cross-party talks if Labour agrees to include funding from trade unions in the £50,000 donor cap, in what would be a financially crippling concession for the party.