David Cameron was the best Prime Minister since Thatcher

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 10, 2016, 3:36 PM GMT+0

A third of people think that Cameron was a good or great Prime Minister, but he is still viewed negatively overall

Despite his premature exit from Downing Street following the shock result of the EU referendum, David Cameron is still seen in more favourable terms than any other Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.

Nearly a third of people (32%) consider Cameron to have been either a good or great Prime Minister – twelve points ahead of Tony Blair, the next most regarded former PM. However, with 34% of people feeling that Cameron was a poor or terrible Prime Minister, his overall net score is negative at -2%. A further 26% of people considered him to be an average PM.

Thatcher, by contrast, is the only Prime Minister who is seem in overall positive terms, with a net score of +13%. She is a polarising figure though, with only 12% considering her an “average” Prime Minister – the majority of voters consider her to have either been good/great (43%) or poor/terrible (30%).

Thatcher also performed well across party lines, picking up a net rating of +5% from Lib Dem voters in 2015, and +31% among UKIP voters – the only former PM to score favourably with another party’s voters. Her score among 2015 Labour voters was a predictably low -38%, although one in five did consider her to be a good or great PM.

Despite the direction of travel among Labour voters, Tony Blair’s score is higher than might have been expected. At -6% overall, he fares significantly better among 2015 Labour voters than his immediate successor Gordon Brown (-25%). His ability to appeal to the voters of other parties has long since worn off, however, with a total net score of -28%, Blair trails nine points behind John Major – the man he defeated in a landslide two decades ago.

Gordon Brown is the least well thought of former Prime Minister, with a majority (55%) of people judging his tenure negatively and fewer than one in ten (9%) thinking it was a success. John Major comes across distinctly middle of the road, with 36% of people saying he was an average PM – more than judged him either positively or negatively.

Overall, those who voted Conservative in 2015 were warm towards Prime Ministers of that party, with net ratings of +73% for Margaret Thatcher, +52% for David Cameron and +1% for John Major from those voters. By contrast, 2015 Labour voters were overwhelming negative about their Labour leaders, with a net rating of -45% for Tony Blair and -25% for Gordon Brown.

Photo: PA

See the full results here