The Times – like Sunday’s Telegraph – chooses to focus upon a deterioration in Cameron’s ratings against Brown when it comes to certain character traits. Peter Riddell writes:
"The Populus poll is good news for Gordon Brown, since the number who consider him strong has risen from 51 to 63 per cent since last October. Moreover, Mr Brown has moved into the lead over Mr Cameron on having what it takes to be prime minister, after gaining 13 points to 57 per cent since October. However, only 20 per cent rate Mr Brown as charismatic, under half Mr Cameron’s rating of 47 per cent. Even among Labour voters, only 32 per cent view Mr Brown as charismatic."
Mr Riddell begins his article by quoting a finding that "Only 36 per cent support “the opening of new grammar schools all over the country and the reintroduction of the 11-plus exam”, while 60 per cent agree that “instead of building new grammar schools for the most able, we should concentrate on improving education for all children by introducing setting and streaming in every secondary school”." He continues: "Moreover, Mr Cameron will be relieved that, despite the passionate debate on Tory websites, only just over a half of party voters (52 per cent) favour new grammar schools, while 46 per cent back the leadership policy." I’m not sure that The Times and Populus have asked a fair question (although it is how David Cameron attempted to frame the debate in the Mail on Sunday). I certainly don’t support opening new grammar schools "all over the country" and the reintroduction of the 11+ "all over the country". My more modest ambition is that parents and social entrepreneurs simply have the option of opening new selective schools as part of a supply-side revolution in education. The wording of the Populus question may explain why their results are so different from those found by ICM and YouGov.