UK Government Delivery Index
29 May 2007
The recent resignation announcement of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the imminent accession of Gordon Brown has increased optimism about the future of the economy and public services.
A Leadership Boost For Gordon Brown And The Government: But Will It Last?In our latest Delivery Index economic optimists in the British population outnumber the pessimists (44% believe that the economy will improve as a result of the Government's policies, while 41% believe it will get worse). This net optimism score of +3 is sixteen points up on that recorded in March this year, and is the first time that the optimists outnumber the pessimists since the brief post-election 'honeymoon' in 2005.
There has been a similar increase in the number of optimists on the Government's ability to improve public services, with net optimism here having increased from -28 in March to -13 now (although as the negative net score indicates, optimists are still outnumbered by pessimists by 38% to 51%).
The Government will be relieved that there has also been a rise in the proportion of Britons who are optimistic towards the NHS, perhaps related to the prospective Prime Minister Brown's reputation as a Chancellor who spent money on the health service. Net optimism is now -14, up from -30 in March. These latest results reverse what had been a long-term decline in public optimism about the NHS, which had recently seen the highest levels of pessimism ever recorded since the Delivery Index started in 2002.
There has been a less pronounced increase in the number of Britons who are optimistic about other public services. Net optimism towards the environment has increased by five points, from -10 in March to -5 now. This continues an upward trend in optimism levels on the environment going back to late 2005. This indicates that the public generally agree with the current focus on environmental issues.
Net optimism towards policing has also increased since March, from 0 to +3. This again continues an upward trend in optimism, which goes back to September last year.
Net optimism towards public transport remains constant since March, at +2. This nevertheless is a high level of optimism on this issue by the historical standards of the Delivery Index, and the general trend in optimism towards transport since 2002 is positive.
Slightly fewer Britons are optimistic towards education, rather against the general trend in this wave. Net optimism is now +7, down from +9 in March. Education nevertheless retains its status as the service in which the public has most confidence in the Government.
Both Gordon Brown and the Labour Government will be keen that such a sharp increase in public optimism does not prove to merely be a short-term 'leadership bounce' and instead is the starting point of sustained increases in the public's belief in the Government's ability to deliver. Previous Delivery Index waves have also recorded short-term improvements in the public mood in the immediate aftermath of key events, such as a General Election, after which the public's prevailing (and more negative) mood is quickly restored. Labour cannot afford for this to be just another 'bounce' as they seek to re-establish a lead in the public's affections in advance of the next General Election. It nevertheless is an encouraging initial platform for the Brown Government to build on.