Gordon Brown is less trusted to steer his country through the global financial crisis than any other major western European leader according to a FT/Harris poll. 68 per cent of respondents said they were 'not confident at all' in the government's ability to deal with a financial crisis compared with 52 per cent in Germany, 51 per cent in the US, 50 per cent in France, 43 per cent in Italy (!) and 36 per cent in Spain.
Of course, as the question relates to 'the government' some of the blame should perhaps be apportioned to the uncharismatic Alastgair Darling. What is also interesting is that respondents have low confidence in the ability of the Bank of England to deal with the crisis which is another blow for depoliticisation. Of course, such a lack of confidence was evident at the time of the Northern Rock crisis when reassurances from the Bank had little effect.
In the poll British househplds were also concerned about 'excessive taxes' than people in any country apart from Italy (which is ironic given that country's history of tax evasion).
Until the forced withdrawal from the ERM in 1992, the Conservatives invariably had a lead in economic competence ratings over Labour. They then lost it by a large margin and have only recently regained it. Because they had not lost their reputation for competence at the time of the 1992 general election, the global recession of the period was actually on balance helpful to the Conservatives. It doesn't look as if it will work that way this time for Labour.