NEW POLL: Who do you least want to be Prime Minister in a year’s time: Gordo or Dave?

Oooh, here’s a nasty ‘forced choice’ question to thrust upon LDV’s readers … let’s assume for a moment that, by some quirk of electoral fate, the Lib Dems do not storm to victory at the next general election, and Nick Clegg is not asked by Her Maj to form the next government. A far-fetched scenario, I know, but go with me on this. If those were the circumstances, who would you rather have as Prime Minister: Gordon Brown or David Cameron?

And, yes, those are your only two choices in this poll. We’re not giving you an easy ‘neither of them’ cop-out answer. No opportunity to bat back equidistant platitudes: if you answer this poll question, you must perforce come down off the fence and take a stand.

No, it’s not easy, is it? I’m genuinely torn. That’s why (with a tip of my hat to my LDV colleague Richard Huzzey) I thought it was a genuinely interesting question to pose.

Gordon Brown has, in many ways, been a disastrous Prime Minister. He has no strategic vision: he believes merely by his continuing to do the job Britain will get better. He has no sense of empowering individuals: only the state can be trusted in Gordon’s world. He has no real interest in governing Britain: in Matthew Parris’s memorable phrase, he’s “an ambitious school bursar with a powerful ego, a good head for figures and a big gap in his brain where a creative political imagination ought to be”.

Which leaves us with David Cameron. Oh God. The thought is too depressing for words. I’ve no doubt I’d enjoy his company: he seems likeable, witty, urbane, cosmopolitan, and pretty tactically shrewd. But he has a ‘born to rule’ superiority complex which I find even more frightening than Gordon’s ‘born to rule’ inferiority complex. But Mr Cameron is the captive of his right-wing activists, the tail which wags the dog: his time as Prime Minister will be one long ConservativeHome-led lurch to the socially conservative, eurosceptic fringes of regressive, isolationist politics. I guess my only hope is that Dave’s time in power will at least prove to those wooed by Mr Cameron’s occasionally progressive words that it is his reactionary party which is the true face of the Tory party.

None of which answers the question I set. Okay, it’s ‘fess up time: I’m voting for Dave as the guy I’d least want to be Prime Minister in a year’s time. (Obviously I’d choose ‘neither of them’ but some fool didn’t give that option in this rigged poll).

My reason: when faced with the financial crisis last year, Gordon did – after a lot of non-plussed blinking – eventually do the right thing, and injected a big stimulus into the economy at a time when the Tories were enjoying leaning back in their seats, laughing, scorning and gloating even as the economy nosedived. Of course, there’s loads more he got wrong even in pursuing that policy. But he got it less wrong than the Tories would’ve done. And for that reason, he wins my extremely reluctant backing in this abominable poll.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Voice polls.


  • Graham Smith 16th Nov '09 - 9:06pm

    I’d have to say I’d prefer Gordon. I don’t suppose he’d stay a full term after election and a Labour victory in 2010 would be dire for Cameron and the Tories. I imagine the right wing would seize their chance to push the Tory party back into the bad old days of ten years ago. They only tolerate DC because they see him as a winner, but if he can’t win against the current government then he has nothing left to offer the right wing.

    In short, a Labour win could produce a Tory collapse in the long term. Possibly.

  • There’s really no dilemma here.

    Brown is absolutely useless and this Labour administration has been mostly terrible throughout, but the Tories will be much, much worse.

  • Godon has to go. And let’s hope Labour implode with him. Which leaves us with Dave as PM – with a small majority, a big headache, and a great opportunity for us at the subsequent election.

  • You mean they are two different people!!!???

  • A real devils choice but out of the two i think I’d prefer Gordon despite him possibly being the worst prime minister in my memory (well ok maybe on legacy that is Thatcher). Despite what Cameron says about protecting the NHS etc etc the Tories would rip the stuffing out of public services and their eagerness to get on with doing so could well lead to the recession turning into a depression if government spending is curtailed too soon.

  • I’d sooner have Gordon than Dave, no doubts about that… At least with Gordon you have a government that comprises of many MPs of leftward persuasion, and with a reduced majority we could potentially see Liberal Democrat policies on things such as fair tax becoming statute with the help of government rebels, could be a very positive result for our party in terms of the influence that we have (and consequently our profile)…. Where as with Cameron you return another right wing government with few redeeming features, in many areas our government in waiting lacks direction, talent and policy which would be cause for worry should (when?) the Conservatives form the next government.

  • Pavement Politico 17th Nov '09 - 12:25am

    I refuse to vote in this poll. There’s no need to provide ammunition to half the opposition activists in the country either way. I’m confident that if Cameron was elected he would be out in a term, and I see no way that Gordon can limp on as PM.

  • Stephen, I greatly enjoy your polls, but this one serves no purpose at all, except to be distorted by the opposition to claim that “a majority of Lib Dems” want to a) prop up a failing Labour government or b) can’t wait for the Tories to get back in…..delete as appropriate.

    Please reconsider this poll and I look forward to taking part in your next, meaningful, monthly survey!

  • Really useful poll, Stephen, as in all but a handful of the Labour-held seats that Cameron needs for a Commons majority the Lib Dem vote is greater than the majority, ie the Lib Dem vote will decide these seats. Might I suggest that in the seats with small majorities like Sth Basildon/E Thurrock LDs vote Tory to block a Labour Commons majority but vote Labour in Thurrock and other seats with over 10% majorities to block a Tory one?

  • David Allen 17th Nov '09 - 1:39pm

    I seem to be in line with the majority view. Gordon certainly has massive flaws, but what little we truly know about Cameron places him well to the right of his mentor Michael Howard. Abolition of taxes on wealth for millionaires, rejection of Sarkozy and Merkel as being far too moderate, enthusiastic embrace of recession as an opportunity to dismantle the welfare State. A disaster we should try to prevent.

    Meanwhile, over in Germany, our Free Democrat counterpart Mr Guido Westerwelle has just made a coalition agreement with Mrs Merkel. She has had to agree to bigger cuts in tax and spending than she would have wanted to impose, had she been able to govern alone. So here we have a German liberal party which has moved to the hard right of its political spectrum. Like most respondents to this posting, I don’t want to see the same happen here.

    What does our leadership think about Mr Westerwelle’s approach to political life, I wonder?

  • If there’s one reason that Labour and Gordon deserve a shoeing at the ballot box, its their abject failure to deliver their manifesto promises on Electoral Reform. They deserve a Conservative governement and a massive cull of Labour MPs for exactly that reason. If there is a Conservative government eas seems likely), then every single Labour Party member needs to be told every day: You Could Have Prevented This.

  • Dale Cox: “At least with Gordon you have a government that comprises of many MPs of leftward persuasion”

    Sorry, but this is a load of ObLox. What you have is a load of careerists who have happily acquiesced with the most authoritarian regime for a long, long time. I don’t want MPs of a leftward persuasion, if that persuasion means reduced civil liberties, increased centralisation, economic incompetence, massive waste of money, and involvement in two wars (one illegal and the other poorly supported).

    Far, far too many people on this thread are looking at Labour through rose-tinted (pun intended) spectacles.

    They have been worse than the Conservatives.

  • Tom Papworth 17th Nov '09 - 3:36pm

    Now, to make it really interesting, you should have had an option for people to choose Nick, too!

  • Peter Turner 17th Nov '09 - 6:16pm

    I really don’t want either of them to be primeminister after the election but Cameron is a slightly worse option so I picked him, just don’t trust the change he is proposing!!!!!!

  • David Heigham 17th Nov '09 - 8:22pm

    I vote against Gordo precisely because of his havering before acting in the financial crisis. He must have been told that a crisis was likely before July. While being told, he will have been presented with a very similar proposal to the one he implemented in October to force salvation on several big banks. If that had been implemented during the summer, the political log jam in Washington preventing similar action there could have been broken in time to prevent the financial panic that has left us so crippled. Cameron looks like he would be a pretty poor PM even if he did not have an awful party on his hands. But at the 2007 Tory Conference he shaowed tha the could face a crisis. Gordon has too often shown that he will not.

  • James Matthews 17th Nov '09 - 9:10pm

    Speakong as a right-wing activist, I really wish Cameron was the captive of his right-wing activists. No chance, I’m afraid.. He is a liberal in conservative clothing (note lower case) and will behave accordingly.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Nov '09 - 10:43pm

    I make a point of never answering questions of the form “Would you like to be kicked in the nose or the groin?”

  • I foresee a huge opportunity for most of you guys to have a future career as windows because you are so completely transparent. More gordon brown equals more chaos in the government and the country, more weakness and an opportunity for you push forward your sort of support at the price of him bringing in PR, and therefore to begin the even steeper slope to poverty and nonentity status as a small department in a fascist europe Whilst Cameron might just succeed, so goodbye to PR and goodbye to any chance of you gaining any power in the present system. Have you not considered that some form of support for Cameron would give you the opportunity to become the Official opposition, then you can fight your case on a more equal playing field, and stand a chance of gaining power the fair way. You know as well as the rest of world you are not going anywhere from where you are now without destroying the country.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Nov '09 - 9:51am

    The main differences between Cameron and Brown are:

    1) Brown was in power when the shit hit the fan, Cameron wasn’t.

    2) During the time the shit was being thrown at the fan, Cameron’s only complaint was that there wasn’t more shit being thrown.

    3) Brown is to the right of the main European centre-right governments, Cameron is even further to the right.

    4) The new aristocracy, having pushed Brown and his movement way to the right are now running him down because he’s served their purpose. They can now put in someone who doesn’t need to be pushed to the because he’s there already.

    5) Cameron has the excuse that he comes from such a old/new aristocracy background that his cluelessness can be defended on the grounds he really doesn’t know how the 99% of the population who don’t come from that background live. Brown has no such excuse.

    I don’t think Cameron’s coming out well out of this. A plausible reason for wanting him as PM is that 2010 is an election to lose. Cameron out in disgrace a few years later as Britain sinks deeper into the shit and the right-wing policies of Thatcher and her successors are shown up as the cause of our woes. Apologists for these policies in the Liberal Democrats finally shut up, and the Liberal Democrats can get on with the battle of really opposing the new aristocracy and all it stands for and all its lies and excuses. Labour does not recover from not just its defeat but is destruction as a serious mass membership political party of the left. The Liberal Democrats under a new left-wing leader storm to power in 2015.

  • Matthew – I agree with 95% of that last paragraph Just replace “left-wing” with “Liberal” and you’d be spot on.

  • Terry Gilbert 18th Nov '09 - 12:00pm

    Matthew, its a convincing argument, and I hope you are right (in the sense of being ‘correct’!) but I still don’t want a Tory Government.
    Cameron might invade the Falklands and last 10 years!

  • A fascinating glimpse into the black hole that is a Liberal’s mind. No wonder you idiots don’t stand a chance at elections.

  • What a depressing read – I count multiple uses of ‘left-wing’ and hardly any of ‘liberal’ – I thought we were meant to be the Liberal Democrats and backing (even as a forced choice) the most authoritarian government this country has ever seen just becuase they are not ‘aristocracy’ seems to me to be a selling out of core liberal beliefs. In the old political compass model – Brown is socially authoritarian and economically statist – Cameron appears to be at the mercy of the social conservative dinosaurs in his party, but is economically liberal. Personally I’ll (reluctantly) take 1 out of 2 rather than 0 out of 2… but hey, that’s just my two-pennorth.

  • If by some miracle Gordon were to win again then Labour would disintegrate. We would then be faced with 25 years of the Tories. Think on, people!

  • Cameron, by a country mile.

    @Tabman “They have been worse than the Conservatives.”

    Rubbish. They haven’t been worse than Thatcher and they haven’t been worse than this next lot look like they’ll be. I don’t mind caretaker Tories but this lot are going to actively dismantle the welfare state as opposed to merely bungle the management of it like Labour have been content to.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Nov '09 - 9:02am

    Lennon et al – I would be happy if those here using the word “liberal” were using it in the sense that the Liberal Democrats use it, summed up by “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. We have seen, however, a determined attempt to steal that word and use it for something else.

    The idea that what we have now is “the most authoritarian government this country has ever seen” is so completely ridiculous it shows up the mindset of those trying to steal the word “liberal”. Is it really more authoritarian than governments in days when there was much more state control of the economy – nationalised industries, exchange controls, rent control, bans on Sunday trading etc? Or going back, is it more authoritarian than the wartime governments? Or more authoritarian than the government of Oliver Cromwell?

    Yes, free trade is an important liberty, but not the only one. When balanced by huge accumulations of wealth in small numbers of hands, and a dependency of most people on what big business provides, supposing free trade is the only liberty that counts is a restriction on true liberty not an advance on it.

    Our political ancestors recognised that it was the powers of the day that needed to be challenged to give true liberty to the people. They did not suppose the only power that mattered was that of the Crown. Today’s equivalent of the aristocracy whose control of people’s livelihood they opposed is the City financiers. Today’s equivalent of the Church which provided a culture telling people how they should live and used that to enforce social conformism is the mass entertainment industry. Just because these big powers are not labelled “state” does not mean they are not barriers to freedom.

    What a shame that I – who proudly used the word “Liberal” of myself and defended it in the days when some in our party were trying to get rid of it and call us just “Democrats” – should now be finding myself ashamed to use it because, at least here in these columns, it is now assumed to mean “a supporter of the extreme free market who believe that is the only thing that mater as freedom”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Nov '09 - 9:09am


    Plus, like Lennon, I am worried by the slight undertone of “Labour are all right really because they’re the left” from some commenters. We’ve just had 12 years of a Labour government – how much more evidence do you need that they’re nothing to do with the left?!

    Who, me? Could you perhaps try reading what I wrote in my point 3) instead of jumping to lazy assumptions based on the usual smart set elite politics?

  • Duncan – they have been worse because they should know better.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Nov '09 - 11:26am


    there’ll be a whole load of new social repression (tax breaks for marriage)

    Hmm, I don’t think in other circumstances you’d use the word “repression” to describe a tax break. How lucky we are if the worst way we can get repressed is to have our tax reduced a bit if we get married.

    OK, so let’s try and think logically about this instead of adopting whatever is the current trendy pose (yes, I know you “libertarians” find that VERY difficult because your stand essentially is the latest trendy pose and many of you are adopting it because you are just conformists who can’t think much beyond the latest trendy pose). Oh, I know I’m being nasty to you, Alix, but it’s what you predicted, and I wouldn’t want to let you down …

    Marriage is a mutual agreement of support between two people. It serves the state and public interest well – the mutual support means there’s less chance than there would be of a single person going running to the state to ask for welfare support, it serves well to ensure kids are brought up, elderly parents are looked after and the like. So why shouldn’t the state reward by a tax cut those who are prepared to make a public commitment to do this? It’s not forcing anyone to go down that route, it’s just, like many other tax breaks, rewarding behaviour which is socially useful and pays for itself in terms of reduced reliability on state spending.

    So, isn’t this just the sort of mutual support instead of relying on the state just the sort of thing you libertarians are all keen on? But because it seems to be sort of religious (uggh) or old-fashioned (euggh), you’re against it. Hah, doesn’t that just prove my point you’re in this for posing and looking trendy rather than anything deeper?

    Why not try really thinking outside the box, instead of jumping to conclusions because they’re the current trendy conclusions to jump to? Level 2 thinking outside the box is thinking outside thinking outside the box.

  • Duncan, ‘They haven’t been worse than Thatcher’.

    With Brown continuing his spend now pay later scorched earth policies this remains to be seen. If you slay the goose that lays the golden eggs are you better than someone who just stops redistributing most of the eggs?

    I voted Cameron as whoever gets in next is going to be deeply unpopular, they can choose if they want to be deeply unpopular now or deeply unpopular later, but either way it’s an election you don’t want to win. So Cameron, because I don’t like him and because I’d hate for the British public to reward Labours failure again.

    I mean if you voted Brown what kind of election system do you want? One where people arse things up just about as badly as it is possible for them to do, but then we vote them in again anyway because shucks, they’re kinda on our side! Look they’ve got a RED rosette which is kinda almost orange! And we used to be orange!! Sheeeesh.

  • James you do realise that by voting Cameron as the one you ‘least want to be prime minister’ you have contradicted what you say above about not wanting Brown to win?

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Nov '09 - 9:04am


    You may be lucky enough to have never been in an abusive relationship.

    Unfortunately, no. It is not always the man that abuses the woman in such relationships. The mortgage system, particularly at times of negative equity has a far bigger financial effect than any tax break, this I know to my cost.

  • simon mcgrath 20th Nov '09 - 2:45pm

    Really baffled by the argument ‘yes GB has been a total disaster but cameron would be worse’. lets not forget labour taking us into iraq on the basis of lies either ( or giving them the benefits of any doubt , utter carelessness.
    on what basis would cameron be worse? The best anyone has come up with so far is tax breaks for married couples. Not really comparable with labour’s assault on civil liberities.

    I remmber canvassing during the lib lab pact, the last time we supported a loathed labour government (although actually more capable than this lot). Real fury at us on the doorsteps.

    If Clegg backs brown in a hung parilaiment he will ruin the party for a generation

  • Big Tall Tim 20th Nov '09 - 6:56pm

    What Cameron has done in Europe is sympomatic of him – sweet & cuddly but when the shit hits the fan he’ll fall back on right wing policies.
    Brown at least pumped moeny into the economy – something the Tory boys wouldn’t.
    So Cameron it has to be as the least wanted one for me

  • very difficult to choose after all they are the same apart from the names they use.

  • Let’s face it, a choice between Brown or Cameron is no choice at all. Both will pander to the rich and powerful, the business lobby and the Eurosceptics. Both will waste public money on pet projects to win votes. Both will continue to betray the young by extending and deepening the privitisation of higher education. Both will continue to ignore the massive problem of mental health care provision. Both will reform our media laws to favour Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News TV channel, ushering in a new era of politically biased TV news broadcasting. Both will preside over a continuing decline in social mobility and an ever widening wealth gap. Both will stand by as gifted children continue to walk out of school with 10 A-star GCSEs, while the rest are left unable to write a sentence. And so on, and so on.

    British voters really want a complete change from Labour AND the Tories. But they know they don’t have a real choice, that the two main parties are the same thing: right wing, Eurosceptic, pro-market, celebrity-obsessed, metropolitan. How will this ever change? As long as as we’re saddled with our current FPTP voting system, and electoral boundaries that favour Labour, it won’t.

  • Some of the comments on here are laughable!!the British public must be asleep either on prescription meds fags or booze,WAKE UP before its too late!Brown is a bad man he wants to control us all he is giving our once sovreign powers to unelected MEP`s in Europe!The brave men and women who fought two world wars for this country`s freedom would turn in their graves if they knew what was being done to our once Great Britain!!Brown creates dangerous laws that favour all the wrong people!!!Just open your eyes WAKE UP!!

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Nov '09 - 4:02pm

    Someone called Chris wrote

    Brown is a bad man he wants to control us all he is giving our once sovereign powers to unelected MEP`s in Europe!The brave men and women who fought two world wars for this country`s freedom would turn in their graves if they knew what was being done to our once Great Britain!!

    Why do you worry so about this, and not about how ownership of much of our basic infrastructure and supply network has fallen into foreign hands? Why is it that you don’t seem concerned that so much of our economy is now controlled by a small number of people whose line is “treat us nicely, or we’ll walk out and take our money elsewhere”?

    Is it perhaps because it is in the interests of these people and the newspapers they run to try and fool you into thinking that the smaller matter of what the EU can do to us is more important?

  • Matthew wrote

    Why is it that you don’t seem concerned that so much of our economy is now controlled by a small number of people whose line is “treat us nicely, or we’ll walk out and take our money elsewhere”?

    Is it perhaps because it is in the interests of these people and the newspapers they run to try and fool you into thinking that the smaller matter of what the EU can do to us is more important?

    I am concerned that so much of our economy is controlled,and i do not believe all that i read in the newspapers,its not a perfect world or country,but the basic rights of a people in their own country to decide fundamental laws the rights of individuals are being eroded,taken away by a euro superstate who even now are building a military force of their own!!Are you aware that under the Lisbon treaty a new development,something called Corpus Juris will mean it will be possible to arrest someone and imprison them indefinitely without charge!!!
    I am not fooled into thinking that this is a smaller matter!!!!

  • Matthew,may i suggest you look at the EU’s official book Corpus Juris.It will explain the Powers of investigation of the European Public Prosecutor (EPP) one of these being To make requests for a person’s remand in custody,for a period of up to 6 months, renewable for 3 months, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the accused has committed an offence,or good reasons for believing it necessary to stop him committing such an offence.(Page 90, Article 20).

  • You have just summed up why I will NOT be voting LibDeb next year

  • To think that Brown is better than Cameron borders on the perverse..he’ll go down as the worst PM this country has ever had. Just as in ’51 and ’79, it’ll be left to the Tories to bring the country off its knees and clean up the horrific mess the previous Labour administration has bequeathed.

  • In a word, GORDON!
    Whether he’d continue leadership of the party or not is another matter, but I’d never ever back the Tories

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