Later on tonight we’ll have the first YouGov poll conducted since Ed Miliband’s victory – I’ve seen the results now, so I’m not going to say anything that could be construed as a hint.

In the meantime, here’s some more polling YouGov did on Labour’s last week. We gave people ten statements related to things Labour needed to change (or not) to win the next election – five broadly positive and optimistic, five broadly negative. Once again, there are some harsh truths there about the problems Ed Miliband is going to have to tackle.

To take the good news for Labour first, 39% of people think Labour’s core values and principles are still strong, and 40% think the Labour party cares about all groups in society. In neither case is it a plurality, but YouGov run similar trackers asking about whether Labour’s heart is in the right place and whether they represent all groups in society, and in both cases they run ahead of the Conservatives – these are Labour strengths. While there may be some good parallels between Labour’s situation now and the Conservatives’ in 1997, Labour are not a new nasty party. People may think they are incompetent and tired, but they still think their hearts are in the right place.

Slightly less positive were the ideas that Labour are ready for a quick bounce back into office after a short period of opposition (36% agreed, 48% disagreed), or that their problems were all down to poor leadership in the past and that the party itself was fine (37% agreed, 49% disagreed).

The negative statements though provide more worrying findings for the new leader. 59% of people agreed that Labour had “seriously lost touch with ordinary working people” (including 30% of Labour’s own supporters), 70% that “Labour need to make major changes to their policies and beliefs to be fit for government again” (including 50% of Labour voters), 61% agreed that “Labour still haven’t faced up to the damage they did to the British economy” and 50% agreed that “If Labour returned to government they would put the country into even more debt”.

I’d still expect the cuts next month to leave Labour with a good healthy lead in the polls – but Ed Miliband needs to use his strength as a newly elected leader, and position of strength that a big lead in the polls will give him, to do some work on repairing Labour’s image. Exactly how Labour position themselves on public spending, cuts and the economy will also be critical – but I’m sure there will be a ton of polling on that to come in the next month.


66 Responses to “More on Labour’s image”

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  1. Does it really matter? Governments lose elections, oppositions slightly influence the result. Ask John Major when the Tories were slash and burn. Nobody loved new Labour; everyone loved that the Tories were not in power; it’s a big difference.

    Issue; if we get a double dip recession (ask Ireland) then Tories and libs are in trouble, if not…

  2. It might be worth observing that while the past is possibly a guide to the future it may just as easily not prove to be the case.

    If Labour lost the May election: no one else really won it….that’s a new factor….

    The % shares of the vote for the largest party has now twice been well below 40% in two consecutive general elections….five years apart.

    I’m not sure what that means in the long run but like the fall in turnout in 1997, maybe things just will not return to how they were before…..

    So comparisons with past polling trends surely needs some caution….

    Maybe that more than anything else all these factors will propel some fundamental change in the voting system….

    Whatever one’s preferences it should caution us all against over-eager extrapolation.

  3. Alec
    @Colin – is this the same IMF that applauded Ireland’s deficit reduction plans saying they would promote economic growth and a smaller deficit?

    I’m sure you know as well as I do what is destroying confidence in Ireland.

    It allowed it’s Banks to expand-with wholesale funding- beyond a size that was compatable with the scale of the Irish economy & state. ( The Iceland syndrome )

    Their real estate market exploded & has now imploded, and they have massive exposure for shoring up Anglo Irish Bank & the rest of those casinos.

  4. Eoin

    “I agree 100% ”

    I thought you would Eoin.

    It’s the prospect of clear red water I expect-sets the pulse racing ;-)

  5. Reported on TV news channels that Mrs. DM has told him not to stand for Shadow Cabinet. She is allegedly upset for him.

    If true ( & I wouldn’t blame her for feeling that way) that would be serious pressure on DM .

    AD reported to have urged him to stand-don’t envy him this dilemma.

  6. Colin
    I have a lot of reservations about immigration from Somalia, Pakistan and Bangl Desh myself. Just as it is possible to live in a number of European countries without learning a lnguage other than English, it is increasingly possible to lead your life in the UK without learning English and this, as Amber has pointed out a serious barrier to economic progress.
    Somalia was all part of the British Empire for a short time and part of it for a long time. Perhaps re-assuringly, the long-term part (British Somaliland) has reverted to near independance and to some vestigal law and order. As far as India is concerned, almost all migrants are from prosperous families in more prosperous area. India itself is becoming more divided with one dividing line access to the English language. There are now more English language speakers as a first language than there are in the UK. Indeed some major languages face decline as literary mediums because so many of the literate read English as a preference. In Pakistan, most migrants are linked to traditional areas of British recruitment for the army and then for work in Britain. Bangladesh is very unusual in that the population with most links to the UK is a poor part of a poor country because the villages of Syllet were used for recruiting “lascar” seamen with permits distributed to villages in return for loyalty to the raj. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis may therefore expect a friendly attitude based on historic loyalties which no longer mean much in contemporary UK

  7. @John Murphy,

    I think you’re right. I suspect that for all the Libdems’ current woes we are moving towards a multi-party, coalition based system of government. DC and NC seem to have grasped that. Much of the Labour party haven’t as yet.

  8. John Murphy
    “The % shares of the vote for the largest party has now twice been well below 40% in two consecutive general elections”

    Quite agree. Things might never go back to how they were. Not only is turnout lower than it once was (despite postal voting) but also minor parties are taking more of the vote than they used to. UKIP, BNP and Green between them took 6% and SNP and Plaid another 2% +. The overall minor party vote seems to be on an upward trend.

  9. It’s why AV would better reflect the way people are thinking of course…

  10. Well done Labour for electing Ed Miliband – the only candidate who’s not damaged goods.

    If the polls turn sour I do fear for him however, since there is clearly a large and influential part of the party who will want his head on a plate, whetever they might say now for the cameras.

  11. @Jack

    Without wishing to rehearse these arguments again only for the sake of it….AV is as likely to result in at least as an unproportional result as the existing system. It’s not a proxy for PR…..

  12. @Alec

    I’ve had a look at John Redwood’s blog and see that he is repeating the numbers that we’ve discussed before.
    The year on year increase in current spending works out as a 6.2% rise for the current year over last year. The yoy increases going forward are 2.2%, 2.0%, 2.3% and 2.1%. The biggest rise is in the current year and that is to take into account the current overshoot in inflation. The rise from 600bn in 09/10 to 651bn in 11/12 compensates for annual inflation at over 4% . In the short term the spending compensates for inflation so there should be no need for extra cuts to account for it. After 2012 there may be problems but inflation is forecast to fall back to the 2% target level helped by the VAT rise falling out of the calculation.

    I agree that JR does not discuss what the money is being spent on however he also does not discuss what gains can be made from spending it better.

  13. Alec
    @Colin – is this the same IMF that applauded Ireland’s deficit reduction plans saying they would promote economic growth and a smaller deficit?

    I’m sure you know as well as I do what is destroying confidence in Ireland.

    It allowed it’s Banks to expand-with wholesale funding- beyond a size that was compatable with the scale of the Irish economy & state. ( The Iceland syndrome )

    Their real estate market exploded & has now imploded, and they have massive exposure for shoring up Anglo Irish Bank & the rest -£30BN on AIB already, whose bonds now have junk status.

  14. New yougov poll is Reds 40 Blues39 Yellows12.
    Honeymoon’s definitely over?

  15. New thread – Labour lead as Bill O’Connor just posted. Hurrah! It likely won’t last – but hurrah, anyway.
    :-) 8-) :-)

  16. amber

    i put your ideas to my co-workers today. they were not impressed. i told them that the ideas had come from a uk politician. they said that he was too big for his boots. i explained about it not being fair that we spoke english and everyone wanted to learn and they said “tough” and “serves you bloody right for being imperialistic båstards”. the general consensus was that they didn’t want anymore immigrants and they didn’t want the EU telling them to put signs up in english

    i think that any european politician who agreed to your proposals would get crucified

    some weeks back i tried to defend Britain’s colonial record by explaining that we were only doing it for they own good, that got a good laugh

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