• Consolidation for Labour and the Tories after the Local Elections
  • Ming Campbell’s figures improve after Bromley & Chislehurst
  • The Home Office is a poison chalice for Dr John Reid
  • Hilary Benn is the most popular Labour Minister
  • The World Cup gives a boost to Germany

UK Polling Report has been given access to the latest figures from YouGov’s daily political trackers, covering changes since my last report in mid-June.

The shifts seen after the foreign prisoner release scandal and the Conservative successes at the local elections have been largely consolidated. The falls in Tony Blair’s approval ratings and the sharp drop in the Labour party’s reputation for competence have both been maintained, but the recovery in the Labour position on most policy issues continued. This suggests that while all those polls showing a Conservative lead as the best party to run the NHS and suchlike were just the result of a torrid couple of weeks for Labour, there has been a genuine change in peoples’ perceptions of Labour’s competence and it is this and disillusionment with Blair that has pushed them behind the Conservatives in the polls.

There is some good news for Menzies Campbell – throughout June his job approval ratings flatlined at about minus 22, but since the Liberal Democrats’ performance in the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election his ratings have perked up considerably. He is still at minus 16, but he does at least have a positive trend.

Looking at the leaders’ ratings in general reveals something quite interesting. The trackers include good job/bad job questions for the party leaders and Gordon Brown, they also include a more general question on people’s opinions of leading politicians asking if people have a positive or negative impression of that politician, and the politicians covered include Blair, Brown, Cameron and Campbell. The scores for Blair on the two questions tend to track each other very closely. Those for Menzies Campbell are currently very close, but for most of June Campbell’s job approval rating was below his positive/negative impression rating, suggesting that even some of those who viewed Campbell positively didn’t think he was doing a particularly good job. For both David Cameron and Gordon Brown there is a large discrepancy between the figures, both men have a higher job approval rating than they do a positive/negative impression rating, suggesting there are many people who dislike Brown or Cameron, either because of their politics or their personalities, but who nonetheless admit they are doing a good job.

The sharpest movement amongst the politicians tracked is for John Reid, whose figures have declined steeply since his appointment to the Home Office. The months since then have seen a constant trickle of negative stories about Home Office incompetence which seem to have taken their toll on Reid’s popularity, from minus 10 in mid-May his positive/negative impression rating has fallen to minus 19.

Looking at the other Labour ministers tracked, 26% of people have a positive impression of Gordon Brown compared to 46% who have a negative impression, a net score of -20. While people like Alan Johnson (-7) and David Miliband (-12) appear to be viewed more positively than Gordon Brown, this is mainly a function of their low public visibility. The Labour minister viewed most positively, both in terms of net score (-3) and the proportion of those who gave an opinion who had a positive impression of him (42%) was Hilary Benn. Whether this is a reflection of Benn’s own charm, the fact that Secretary of State for International Development is a job where it is easy to be liked (giving money to needy people in the Third World, what a nice bloke), or people translating positive opinions about Tony Benn onto his son is impossible to say.

Finally, the trackers of attitudes towards countries show that people in the UK have a considerably more favourable opinion of Germany now than prior to the World Cup. France also saw their figures rise, though since all these figures are prior to Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt that may yet change.

More details, and graphs showing all these trends, can be downloaded in the report below:

pdf Download full report HERE.

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