Poll says only Tony Blair can help Labour

LONDON Fri Aug 1, 2008 9:36am BST

Gordon Brown bids farewell to Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko after their meeting at Downing Street in London May 15, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Gordon Brown bids farewell to Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko after their meeting at Downing Street in London May 15, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

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LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown's popularity has slumped to a record low, but a change in leader will not help Labour Party win the next election, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

A YouGov poll in The Daily Telegraph said only 15 percent of people questioned believed Brown was "up to the job".

It said this was the lowest approval rating for a prime minister since John Major in 1995, two years before his Conservative government suffered a crushing election defeat that has ushered in 11 years of Labour rule.

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Only nine percent of voters said Brown was "in touch with the concerns of people like me" while 52 percent said he "lacks the qualities needed to lead Britain effectively through its economic problems," The Daily Telegraph said.

Brown's poll ratings have been hit by the credit crunch, which has weakened economic growth and sent house prices sliding, and by policy mis-steps.

A loss of a once safe parliamentary seat in an election in Scotland last week sparked speculation that Brown could face a challenge to his year-old leadership of the Labour Party.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband stoked the frenzy with a newspaper article that many commentators saw as a thinly-veiled bid to establish his credentials as a future leader.

The YouGov poll, conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, found that none of the potential candidates to succeed Brown as Labour leader could save the party from defeat to the Conservatives at the next general election, which must be held by mid-2010.

The survey said the Conservatives would win 47 percent of the vote to Labour's 25 percent if Brown remained leader -- enough to give the Conservatives a landslide victory at a general election.

If Miliband were leader, Labour's share of the vote dropped to 24 percent, while the Conservatives stayed at 47 percent, it said.

Ironically, the poll found, Labour would only do significantly better if it were led by Tony Blair -- who stepped down in Brown's favour in June last year after a decade in power. With Blair, Labour's deficit would drop to nine points.

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