Newsnight

Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby is to return to TV after more than 20 years. Antony Jay, writer of the classic political comedy Yes Minister, has penned three special election sketches for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Sir Humphrey Appleby will return to the screen on Newsnight (26 April 2010) and will be seen grappling with how the civil service should respond to party manifesto promises, ahead of the arrival of the new minister.

The role of Sir Humphrey, made famous by Sir Nigel Hawthorne, will be played by Henry Goodman who will also be playing the same role in a forthcoming theatre production of Yes Prime Minister. The play will be directed by Yes Prime Minister co-writer Jonathan Lynn.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of those who intend to vote Conservative at the next election will do so mainly as a vote against Gordon Brown and the record of the Labour Party, according to an opinion poll carried out by ORB for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

The poll asked: “Which of the following three statements best describes why you will vote or are leaning towards the Conservative party in the General Election?”

Seventeen per cent said their vote was mainly a vote against Gordon Brown and 47% that it was mainly a vote against the record of the Labour party. Just over a third, 34%, said their vote is mainly a vote for David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

The poll also showed that half of people, 50%, think that David Cameron would make the best Prime Minister, compared to 23% for Gordon Brown and 11% for Nick Clegg.

A clear majority, 59%, of people also had a favourable or very favourable opinion of David Cameron with 39% having an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion of him.

Gordon Brown had almost the reverse of that reaction with 38% of those polled having a favourable or very favourable opinion of the Prime Minister and 61% having an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion.

Asked about a series of traits and policy areas, David Cameron and the Conservatives out-polled Gordon Brown and the Labour Party in almost all of them.

More of those asked thought David Cameron is “providing strong leadership” (51%) and “Will be tough on Crime” (51%) than Gordon Brown, 21% and 18%, and Nick Clegg, 10% and 9%, respectively.

David Cameron and the Conservatives were also ahead amongst those polled on who has “definite plans and goals for Britain’s future” (43%) and “Will prioritise families” (42%). Gordon Brown and the Labour Party were 23% and 24% and Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats were 12% and 15% respectively.

But on two issues that seemed to matter greatly to those polled – the economy and the NHS – findings were much closer.

Thirty-four per cent of those asked said Gordon Brown and Labour would stand up for the NHS, with 33% saying that of the Conservatives and 13% of the Liberal Democrats.

On the issue of who will stand up for ordinary people in an economic crisis, Labour and Conservatives were also neck and neck – 31% said Gordon Brown and 30% David Cameron, with 18% saying Nick Clegg.

But asked who they would trust more to fix the economy, those polled gave David Cameron a slight lead with 35% saying the Conservatives and 32% saying the Labour Party and Gordon Brown; 11% said Nick Clegg.

The opinion poll is part of an exercise conducted for BBC Two’s Newsnight for the conference season.

Newsnight has invited American pollster Cornell Belcher to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians.

His fourth film focussing on opinions towards David Cameron and the Conservative Party was shown on last night’s Newsnight (5 October).

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald and his research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

Poll questions


Q: Which of the following three statements best describes why you will vote or are leaning towards the Conservative party in the General Election?

All respondents who intend to vote Conservative – Base: 338
My vote is mainly a vote for David Cameron and the Conservative party – 34%
My vote is mainly a vote against Gordon Brown – 17%
My vote is mainly a vote against the record of the Labour party – 47%
None of these – 2%
Don’t know/Refused – 1%

Q: Regardless of your own political views, who do you think will make the better Prime Minister?

All respondents – Base: 1,056
David Cameron – 50%
Gordon Brown – 23%
Nick Clegg – 11%
Others – 1%
None – 8%
Don’t know – 7%

Q: Please tell me for each of the following people whether you have a very favourable, favourable, unfavourable, or very unfavourable opinion of them?

All respondents – Base: 1,056

Gordon Brown
Very favourable – 7%
Favourable – 31%
Unfavourable – 35%
Very unfavourable – 26%
Never heard of – 1%

David Cameron

Very favourable – 9%
Favourable – 50%
Unfavourable – 26%
Very unfavourable – 13%
Never heard of – 3%

Social Class D/E – Base: 300

Gordon Brown
Very favourable – 10%
Favourable – 34%
Unfavourable – 28%
Very unfavourable – 27%
Never heard of – 1%

David Cameron
Very favourable – 8%
Favourable – 41%
Unfavourable – 28%
Very unfavourable – 17%
Never heard of – 7%

Q: Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of…?

All Sample A Respondents: Base 514

Can move Britain forward

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 23%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 43%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 15%
None of them – 11%
Don’t know – 8%

Will stand up for regular people during an economic crisis

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 31%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 18%
None of them – 13%
Don’t know – 8%

Shares my values
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 22%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 35%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 18%
None of them – 19%
Don’t know – 6%

Have definite plans and goals for Britain’s future
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 23%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 12%
None of them – 13%
Don’t know – 10%

Has a strong and capable team
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 37%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 11%
None of them – 18%
Don’t know – 13%

Represents change in politics

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 14%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 26%
None of them – 10%
Don’t know – 8%

Are providing strong leadership
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 51%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 10%
None of them – 14%
Don’t know – 5%

Are concentrating on issues that are important to me

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 22%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 35%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 17%
None of them – 18%
Don’t know – 7%

Will stand up for the NHS

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 34%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 33%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 13%
None of them – 9%
Don’t know – 10%

Is someone I can trust

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party- 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 15%
None of them – 29%
Don’t know – 6%

Has good judgement
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 36%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 17%
None of them – 19%
Don’t know – 8%

Trust more to fix the economy

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 32%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 35%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 11%
None of them – 15%
Don’t know – 7%

Makes me feel hopeful and optimistic

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 19%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 34%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 14%
None of them – 28%
Don’t know – 5%

Will prioritise families
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 15%
None of them – 9%
Don’t know – 9%

Is in it for themselves
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 39%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 31%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 6%
None of them – 12%
Don’t know – 12%

Will make the right cuts in public spending
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 39%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 17%
None of them – 10%
Don’t know – 9%

Will be tough on crime
Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 18%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 51%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 9%
None of them – 13%
Don’t know – 9%

Will improve education

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party – 25%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party – 41%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats – 17%
None of them – 8%
Don’t know – 8%

Q: I am going to read out two different statements. Please listen to both and tell me which of the two statements is closest to your view, even if neither is precisely what you think?

All respondents – Base: 1,056

However positively or negatively people may feel about the record of the Labour government over the past ten years, Gordon Brown represents the devil you know and we are better off sticking with Labour than risk switching to the Conservatives: 41%

Gordon Brown represents more of the same – and things in Britain have now got to the point where it really is time for a change, so we are better off switching to the Conservatives than to stick with Labour in Government: 59%

Nearly two-thirds of people think the Labour Party has got worse since Gordon Brown took over, according to an opinion poll carried out by ORB for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

When asked whether their opinion of the Labour Party had gone up, gone down, or remained the same since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister in June 2007, 62% of those polled said their opinion had gone down, 31% said their opinion had remained the same and only 7% said their opinion of Labour had gone up.

Even amongst those polled who voted Labour in 2005, a majority, 55%, said their opinion of the party had gone down with just 8% saying their opinion had gone up and 37% saying their opinion had remained the same.

When just those who intended to vote Labour at the next General Election were asked for their reasons, less than a fifth, 19%, said their vote was mainly for Gordon Brown. About the same said their vote was mainly a vote against David Cameron and the Conservatives (20%). The majority though (56%) said they would vote for Labour on the record of the Labour Party.

Overall, two-thirds of people (67%) did not approve of the way the Prime Minister was handling his job, with less than a third, 29%, saying they approved.

One of the few areas in which those polled see little difference between Gordon Brown and David Cameron is on who would stand up for the NHS – 34% of those asked said Gordon Brown and Labour, with 33% saying the Conservatives and 13% the Liberal Democrats.

On the issue of who will stand up for ordinary people in an economic crisis, Labour and Conservatives were also neck and neck – 31% said Gordon Brown and 30% David Cameron, with 18% saying Nick Clegg.

But asked who they would trust more to fix the economy, those polled gave David Cameron a slight lead with 35% saying the Conservatives and 32% saying the Labour Party and Gordon Brown; 11% said Nick Clegg.

The opinion poll is part of an exercise conducted for BBC Two’s Newsnight for the party conference season.

Newsnight has invited American pollster Cornell Belcher to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians. His third film focussing on opinions towards Gordon Brown and the Labour Party was broadcast on last night’s Newsnight (Monday 28 September).

A further film will broadcast next week focusing on the Conservatives.

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald and his research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

Poll findings

Q: Which of the following three statements best describes why you will vote or are leaning towards the Labour Party in the General Election.

All respondents who intend to vote Labour Base: 256
My vote is mainly a vote against David Cameron and the Conservative Party 20%
My vote is mainly for Gordon Brown 19%
My vote is mainly for the record of the Labour Party 56%
None of these 5%
Don’t know/refused 1%

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way in which Gordon Brown is handling his job as Prime Minister?

All respondents Base: 1056
Approve 29%
Disapprove 67%
Don’t know/refused 4%

Q: Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of…?

All Sample A Respondents: Base 514

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party
Will stand up for the NHS 34%
Trust more to fix the economy 32%

David Cameron and the Conservative Party
Will stand up for the NHS 33%
Trust more to fix the economy 35%

Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats
Will stand up for the NHS 13%
Trust more to fix the economy 11%

None of them
Will stand up for the NHS 9%
Trust more to fix the economy 15%

Don’t know
Will stand up for the NHS 10%
Trust more to fix the economy 7%

Q: Has your opinion of the Labour Party gone up, gone down, or remained the same since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister in June 2007?

All respondents Base: 1,056

Gone up 7%
Remained the same 31%
Gone down 62%

Those who voted Labour in 2005 – Base: 294
Gone up 8%
Remained the same 37%
Gone down 55%

More than a third of people (36%) have not heard of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, according to an opinion poll carried out by ORB for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

When asked whether they had a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Nick Clegg, 28% said they had an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion; 36% said they had a favourable or very favourable opinion.

But an equal number (36%) said they had never heard of him.

Asked to name who they thought would make the best Prime Minister, just over one in 10 (11%), said Nick Clegg.

The poll also suggests that, among those who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election in 2005, around one in three named the Liberal Democrat leader as the man who would make the better Prime Minister.

But even more former Liberal Democrat voters, around two in five, said David Cameron would make the better Prime Minister.

More than a quarter (26%) of those polled did think that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats “represents change in politics”. That was fewer than those who said David Cameron and the Conservatives (42%) “represents change in politics” but more than those that said Gordon Brown and Labour (14%).

Finally, when asked which UK political leader, if any, is most like Barack Obama, 3% said Nick Clegg.

But double that number (6%) said the Liberal Democrats Treasury spokesman Vince Cable was like the US President.

The opinion poll is part of an exercise conducted for Newsnight for the party conference season.

Newsnight has invited American Pollster, Cornell Belcher, to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians.

His second film focussing on opinions towards the Liberal Democrats can be seen on tonight’s Newsnight (Monday 21 September).

Two further films will broadcast during the conference season focusing on Labour and the Conservatives.

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald and research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

Poll findings

Q: Please tell me for each of the following people whether you have a very favourable, favourable, unfavourable, or very unfavourable opinion of them?

All respondents Base: 1,056
Nick Clegg
Very favourable 3%
Favourable 33%
Unfavourable 22%
Very unfavourable 6%
Never heard of 36%

Q. Which of these UK political leaders, if any, is most like Barack Obama? If you think a previous political leader is more like Barack Obama, just tell me which one?

All respondents Base: 1,056
David Cameron 18%
Gordon Brown 11%
Tony Blair 7%
Vince Cable 6%
Nick Clegg 3%
Margaret Thatcher 2%
Others 3%
None like Obama 46%
Don’t know 2%

Q: Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of…? …. Represents change in politics

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 14%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 26%
None of them 10%
Don’t know 8%

Q: Regardless of your own political views, who do you think will make the better Prime Minister?

All respondents Base: 1,056
Nick Clegg 11%
Other names to be announced on Newsnight at a later date.

More Think Cameron Rather Than Brown Will Make Right Cuts In Public Spending, Suggests Newsnight Poll

More people think that David Cameron rather than Gordon Brown will make the right cuts in public spending, according to an opinion poll carried out for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Newsnight has invited American Pollster, Cornell Belcher, to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians.

His first film can be seen on tonight’s Newsnight and then three further films will broadcast during the conference season focusing on Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald with research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

The poll, conducted last weekend, asked which leader will make the right cuts in public spending – 39% said David Cameron and the Conservatives, less than a quarter (24%) said Gordon Brown and the Labour Party and 17% said Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way in which Gordon Brown is handling his job as Prime Minister, 29% of those polled said they approved, 67% said they disapproved.

Cornell Belcher noted that this approval rating is worse than that of US President George W Bush, at a similar time in the electoral cycle.

Two-thirds (67%) of those asked also think that the country is “pretty seriously off on the wrong track” as opposed to under a third (30%) who think it is “moving in the right direction”.

Even among those who voted Labour at the last election, in 2005, there is a majority 51% who think the country is on the “wrong track” – 47% of those 2005 Labour voters asked think it is moving in the “right direction”.

When asked who “is someone I can trust” and who “will prioritise families”, Gordon Brown came out badly.

Just over a fifth of those asked, 21%, think Gordon Brown “is someone I can trust” compared to just under a third, 30%, who think that of David Cameron. Although almost the same number of people – 29% – said this applied to “none of them”.

Just less than a quarter of people asked, 24%, think Gordon Brown and the Labour Party “will prioritise families”. For David Cameron and the Conservatives that figure was 42% and 15% think that of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

But, on one of the key issues which could decide the election, Gordon Brown and David Cameron are neck-and-neck.

When asked who “will stand up for ordinary people during an economic crisis”, 31% said Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, with 30% saying David Cameron and the Conservative Party; 18% of those asked said Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

Cornell Belcher wanted to know how the British politicians compare in the public mind to the US President, Barack Obama.

Asked whether they have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Barack Obama, 88% of the people polled said they had a favourable or very favourable opinion as compared to 9% who had an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion.

And, asked if any UK leader was like Barack Obama, David Cameron had a clear lead with 18% thinking him more like the US president, 11% thinking that of Gordon Brown and only 3% thinking that of Nick Clegg.

Seven per cent of those asked named former Prime Minister Tony Blair even though he was not listed. Also not listed but named by 2% was former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

But the largest group of those polled, 46%, said no British politician was like the US President.

Poll findings


Q: Will make the right cuts in public spending

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 39%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 17%
None of them 10%
Don’t Know 9%

Q: Please tell me for each of the following people whether you have a very favourable, favourable, unfavourable, or very unfavourable opinion of them?

Barack Obama
Net: Favourable (that is favourable + very favourable) 87%
Net: Unfavourable (that is unfavourable + very unfavourable) 9%
Never Heard of 4%

Q Which of these UK political leaders, if any, is most like Barack Obama? If you think a previous leader is more like Barack Obama just tell me which one?

David Cameron 18%
Gordon Brown 11%
Tony Blair 7%
Vince Cable 6%
Nick Clegg 3%
Margaret Thatcher 2%
Others 3%
None like Obama 46%
Don’t Know 2%

Q Do you approve or disapprove of the way in which Gordon Brown is handling his job as Prime Minister?

Approve 29%
Disapprove 67%
Don’t Know 4%

Q Generally speaking, do you think things in Britain are moving in the right direction or are they pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

All/Labour voters 2005
Right Direction 30% 47%
Wrong track 67% 51%
Don’t know 4% 3%

Q Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of David Cameron, Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg?

Will stand up for ordinary people during an economic crisis

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 31%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 18%
None of them 13%
Don’t Know 8%

Will prioritise families

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 15%
None of them 9%
Don’t Know 9%

Is someone I can trust

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 15%
None of them 29%
Don’t Know 6%

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