Voters still prefer grumpy Brown to likeable Cameron

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown is regarded as "Grumpy Gordon" by two thirds of voters but people still prefer him to David Cameron as the next Prime Minister.

Six out of 10 Labour supporters and 70 per cent of his fellow Scots believe Mr Brown looks "grumpy", according to a poll for The Independent on how people view the two men who are expected to contest the next general election.

CommunicateResearch found more people regard Mr Cameron as "likeable" and someone who "understands ordinary people" than think the same of Mr Brown. But the Chancellor is seen as "principled" by more voters. On the crucial overall rating of who would make the better Prime Minister, 39 per cent prefer Mr Brown and 36 per cent the Tory leader, with 16 per cent saying neither.

People intending to vote for the Liberal Democrats, who could hold the balance of power after the next election, prefer Mr Brown to Mr Cameron by 37 per cent to 31 per cent. But Green Party supporters back Mr Cameron by 40 per cent to 30 per cent in a sign of the impact he has made on environmental issues.

There is little sign that Mr Cameron is doing better among women voters, as some other surveys suggested. CommunicateResearch found 40 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women believe Mr Brown would make the better Prime Minister, against 37 per cent and 36 per cent respectively for the Tory leader.

Mr Brown is most popular among those aged 65 and over, enjoying a seven-point lead in the group most likely to vote. Mr Cameron scores highest among those aged 18 to 24, where he has a 12-point advantage, indicating the success of his efforts to transform his party appeal to younger voters.

Intriguingly, 18 per cent of Tory supporters believe Mr Brown would make a better Prime Minister while 15 per cent of Labour voters prefer Mr Cameron.

The Tory leader is more popular among the top AB social group but the Chancellor owes his overall lead to support from the bottom two C2 and DE groups.

Mr Cameron is ahead of Mr Brown in the South-east by 41 per cent to 34 per cent, which may heighten fears among some Labour figures about whether the Chancellor can match Tony Blair's appeal in the South. But Mr Brown leads Mr Cameron in the North and the Midlands.

Labour intends to portray Mr Brown as a man of substance and experience who would provide a safer choice than the "spin" and inexperience of Mr Cameron. But the Tories intend to contrast someone they regard as a dour and gloomy figure with a younger, telegenic leader they think is well-suited to a political system that has become more presidential under Mr Blair.

It seems the Tories will be pushing at an open door. A total of 66 per cent of people believe the Chancellor is "grumpy", against only 18 per cent who think the same of Mr Cameron. The label is seen as right for Mr Brown by 59 per cent of Labour supporters, although only 23 per cent of them think it fits Mr Cameron. The Chancellor is regarded as "grumpy" by 77 per cent of Tory supporters, 76 per cent of Green Party supporters and 68 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters.

More men (69 per cent) regard Mr Brown as "grumpy" than women (63 per cent), while only 16 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women believe Mr Cameron deserves the label.

More people in all age groups regard Mr Cameron as "likeable" than Mr Brown. Overall, 67 per cent believe the Tory leader is "likeable" while only 42 per cent say the same of the Chancellor. Some 57 per cent of Labour supporters describe Mr Cameron as "likeable" but only 26 per cent of Tory supporters think the Chancellor is. Three out of four Liberal Democrat supporters like Mr Cameron but only one in three likes Mr Brown.

The jury is out on which of the two men can better convince voters that he is on their side. Some 51 per cent of people believe the Tory leader "understands ordinary people", another sign that he has changed the public's perceptions of his party, while 49 per cent believe the Chancellor does.

There is some comfort for Mr Brown in that 58 per cent of voters see him as "principled" while 52 per cent say the same of Mr Cameron. This will encourage Labour strategists who believe his record as Chancellor will be an eelectoral asset.