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”

1 2
  1. Though discredited by subsequent events Wilson’s famous ‘white heat of technology’ speech was impressive in part because it was long on both analysis and prescription. Even if the latter proved a bit wonky it changed perceptions….So what’s needed is a thoughtful speech rather than a long rhetorical flourish…this is all the harder coming so sharply on winning… to some extent unexpectedly…but surely on the other hand he was in some ways prepared. The one thing after all is said and done is that Ed Milliband has not shrunk from seizing his moment…in that calculation there may be much more sinew, strength and toughness than anyone yet anticipates.

  2. 1. “59% of people agreed that Labour had seriously lost touch with ordinary working people”

    – They had.

    2. “70% that Labour need to make major changes to their policies and beliefs to be fit for government again”

    – They do.

    3. “61% agreed that “Labour still haven’t faced up to the damage they did to the British economy”

    – This is quite loaded question, since it invovles prior assumption that the damage was caused by Labour. This is a point reds would contest I think.

  3. Not a word then Anthony even for us Labour supporters out here desperate for some good news after 2 and a half years of unmitigated poll misery.

    Would it be fair to say that if and when a lead is established then a poll lead for Labour will become the status quo for the next 2 years (in view of the government’s cuts programme) or is that just fandiful delusion?

  4. A technical query about the Labour Party’s membership voting.

    Amber said a while back that there had been a large growth in people joining the Labour Party since the GE. Did they get a vote, or is there a “probationary period” , or similar?

  5. They got a vote… It is said anecdotally they broke for Ed but i am nore sure that that is confirmable.

  6. @Old Nat – I think if someone joined by Sept 8th they were entitled to vote.

  7. ………..and 50% agreed that “If Labour returned to government they would put the country into even more debt”. Besides, some people don’t see the country being in more debt as a bad thing, if it’s to fund genuine investment for the future.

    So maybe 50% worried about debt… not a bad place to start from. 61% thinking Labour ‘damaged’ the British economy is more of a challenge.

    I’m guessing that “damage” includes more than tax & spend in the perceptions of the 61%. I’m thinking that includes other things like immigration, house prices, personal debt levels etc. 8-)

  8. Thanks guys.

    In that case I’m puzzled.

    In 2008, SLAB had around 18,500 members. At the beginning of 2009 they claimed to have “just under 20,000 members” (Scotsman).

    Scottish CLPs had only 13,135 ballot papers issued. Where have all these lost members gone?

  9. OldNat,

    Your memebrship can lapse if you do not renew it… Credit crunch (its £35) prob. saw numbers not bother to renew… reds werent very popular remember?

  10. Daily Telegraph today say that several of Ed Balls supporters were successfully persuaded by Charlie Whelan to give Ed Milliband their second preference. They name six MPs.

    Had just these six MPs instead given David their second preference, the college would have gone 18.575/14.758, giving David 50.11% overall.

    The GMB clearly broke the spirit of election rules (their leader is now saying that Ed Miliband is as yet the unfinished article). This may sound like sour grapes from a David Miliband supporter, however, the manner of a victory is important.

  11. BillyBob,

    it sounds like very sour grapes.

  12. “Exactly how Labour position themselves on public spending, cuts and the economy will also be critical ”

    It sure will Anthony.

    Particularly after the IMF report today:-

    Stephanie Flanders :-

    “”It couldn’t be better timing for George Osborne. On the day that Labour’s old and new guard debate just how outraged to be about the government’s deficit plans, the IMF has given them a resounding thumbs up……
    …….In the body of the report, the staff warm to their theme, and make clear that they consider Mr Osborne’s plans an improvement on Alistair Darling’s.
    ……In the public relations battle over the deficit, Mr Osborne’s team has won an important, and surprisingly unqualified, endorsement.”

    Boy oh boy EM has some thinking to do .
    Who does he appoint SCoE if DM bows out?

    And it’s not just IMF telling how to position Labour-AD’s speech was uncompromising.

    EM will be severely tested on the economy very quickly-and he has a major balancing act to perform -The Press, The Blairites, EB, The Unions, The Markets.

    Not to mention -the Voters.

  13. these poll findings are not so bad for labour. After 13 years of government you would expect there to be a perception of being out of touch. Interestingly Labour governments are expected to increased taxes and soending and raise levels of debts as much as conservatives are expected to lower taxes and cut spending.

    Assuming the polls are right, if an election were to be held today Labour would be more likely to be the largest party, which is not bad for a party out of touch. Surely this is a good starting point for Ed Miliband to launch from.

  14. Eoin

    So, after all these “new members” (presumably some of the former lapsed ones), the Labour Party in Scotland is a third smaller than it was 18 months ago.

    Methinks some people (not posters here, I hasten to add) have been a tad “economical with the truth”! :-)

  15. To put tonight’s poll in perspective. Today is day 144 since the election (if 6/5/10=day 0). How were the parties polling on this day in previous terms?

    The latest poll on/before day 144 for this term was on 26/09/2005 (day 144). The Blue/Red/Yellow/Gray split was 29/39/25/7. The leaders were Howard/Blair/Kennedy.

    The latest poll on/before day 144 for this term was on 22/10/2001 (day 137). The Blue/Red/Yellow/Gray split was 25/57/13/5. The leaders were IDS/Blair/Kennedy.

    The latest poll on/before day 144 for this term was on 08/09/1997 (day 130). The Blue/Red/Yellow/Gray split was 24/60/10/6. The leaders were Hague/Blair/Ashdown.

    The latest poll on/before day 144 for this term was on 21/08/1992 (day 134). The Blue/Red/Yellow/Gray split was 38/44/14/4. The leaders were Major/Smith/Ashdown.

    The latest poll on/before day 144 for this term was on 26/10/87 (day 137). The Blue/Red/Yellow/Gray split was 47/37/14/2. The leaders were Thatcher/Kinnock/Steele? (see below)

    Regards, Martyn

    Note: Anthony lists polling data for Yellow back to the 1987 General Election. But this precedes the formation of the Liberal Democrats in 1988. I’ve assumed Anthony’s polling data for yellow for 87-88 refers to the Liberal party, whose leader was David Steele.

  16. @epochery

    “Assuming the polls are right, if an election were to be held today Labour would be more likely to be the largest party, which is not bad for a party out of touch. Surely this is a good starting point for Ed Miliband to launch from.”

    But it wont be. And by the time it is held, the inbuilt advantage Labour currently has will be eliminated by boundary reform. Labour would do well to embrace AV as a way of getting second preference votes from Lib Dems and Green voters, since the majority of their supporters would probably opt for Labour over the Conservatives (though probably not me with Red Ed in charge).

  17. So the IMF has supported the coalition defecit reduction plans, i always have a problem with balance sheet approaches to economics because it ignores the socio/cultural effect on defecit reduction. Much like in the early 80’s there could be a generation of youngsters who could be starved of work/training opportunities. Not to mention the potential to have in excess of 1 million people added to the unemployment list. Is it possible to cut compationately, I don’t know but I do worry about creating another lost generation which I am sure the IMF and other such organisations dont recognise.

  18. Labour holds shadow cabinet elections every two years. I’d give the Chancellor job to Ed B & say go get’em Ed.

    If that isn’t the best way to go, there’s still 2 years to work with before the 2015 GE. 8-)

  19. Martyn,

    Your data is useful. It shows that the governing party on day 144 ALWAYS poll higher than their score in the subsequent election. Thus if tonights blue is c.38% That would be a big worry for them. I doubt the others coincided with funny season, ahem i mean conf. season…

    Blue need to be consistently over 40s if the want to retain power in 2015.

  20. @Tony Fisher

    I am not sure about the whole Red Ed thing, it is easy to pick up on tabloid sound bites. Even allowing for boundary changes there is not much in it, the adanatage for the tories I believe is around 10 seats or so. My point being that based on the poll figures now Labour probably would be the biggest party, of course that may change with YouGov’s figure tonight. It is a good springboard for Ed Miliband to move forward.

  21. It is very obvious that the man who spends money on others is going to seen as a “kind man” whose “heart is in the right place”. However when his “kindness” reduces his own families security, he wanders into bloody fool territory. The man who says “I would like to help, but my family comes first” is far less popular and will fall behind in the polls. However, when and if his caution pays of, he will be able to help others and his place as “the one you can trust with money” will be restored, as will his poll ratings. See todays IMF comments.

  22. The ‘red ed’ moniker will most likely backfire. My hunch is that blues will regret using it. Labour lost 2-3million working class voters. the image for right or for wrong of a ‘red’ leading Labour is enough to make many return to the fold.
    Anecdote alert: My sister phoned me on Saturday from Manchester (she lives there). conversation goes something along the lines of “what’s this I hear about that New Labour lot? Is it true what they say about that Ed fella..? Is he ‘proper’ Labour?

    I was uncomittal in my response, but she joined later that day. My brother when i last spoke too him (Sat.) was planning the same. His reason? He asked my if it was true that the party was no longer called ‘Nuu Labour’. His words went soemthing along the lines of ‘never really understand why Labour had to be new’. But there you go… two new voters quite impressed with the ‘red ed’ label.

  23. @ Tony Fisher

    “And by the time it is held, the inbuilt advantage Labour currently has will be eliminated by boundary reform.”

    Are you also assuming that Conservatives improve their vote distribution and become electable in the Cities, North and Scotland again. This, IMO, is the only way we’ll be able to say that Labour’s advantage has been broken – only a small proportion of this advantage derives from the system itself.

    @ Epochery

    I couldn’t agree more – another ‘lost generation’ is the last thing this country and it’s citizens need.

  24. Amber

    “I’d give the Chancellor job to Ed B & say go get’em Ed.”

    I hope he is listening to you Amber-I really do. ;-)

  25. The poll seems to vindicate the election of Ed Miliband as leader. He is the one that most seemed to understand where we went wrong, the one that represents a change from the past, and the one what talked abour re-connecting with lost voters. If he manages to live up to these expectations, then it make the next election very close indeed.

    Forget the Red Ed nonsense, that has no legs, once Ed Miliband gets going and demostrates how untrue it is.

    Of course the risk for Labour is David Miliband supporters kicking up a fuss and spliting the party.

  26. @Eoin,

    Much as I’d like to take the credit for this, it’s not my data, it’s Anthony’s. However, having said that, the point is fairly clear – nobody is doing well. LAB is polling at levels Kinnock would have recognised, CON is polling at levels Major would have recognised, LIB is polling at levels Ashdown would have recognised. Everybody’s carrying on like this was 83 or 97, and only one big push is necessary for big majorities and bigger brandies. But the numbers just aren’t there.

    Regards, Martyn

  27. Colin,

    “I hope he is listening to you Amber-I really do.”

    I agree 100% :)

  28. OldNat,
    I’m sure its quite possible for the level of members to have shrunk between january 2008 (the date of the survey you linked to) and May 2010 to have shrunk so much that an increase to 13,500 is be achieved.

    Graphs dont have straight lines!

  29. martyn,

    I was being mischievous! every cloud has a silver lining :)

    Your concern for the young is laudable , but you sound as if you think things are just dandy in that department as we speak. In some area’s of this country we do have a broken Britain, whatever left wingers try to pretend. This has been achieved having spent unprecedented sums of money on social issues. The nations economy comes first and must be restored.
    In the scheme of things the British people are spoilt and largely over privileged, constant overspending of money we have not got is not the way to build a future.
    Our forefathers, in circumstances which today’s Briton could not even envisage, simply had to manage. A little of that guts and spirit needs to return.

  31. Eoin
    I agree with you about how useful Martyn’s figures are. however, as i read them, there is one exception to your theory that the governing party is always ahead after 144 days. look at 1992-7 again.

    Also, I disagree with you statement that “Blue need to be consistently over 40s if the want to retain power in 2015.” Surely they only need to be over 40% or thereabouts on polling day? I do agree that I would expect them to be higher at this stage though.

  32. Martyn – generally speaking, it’s unwise to compare polls these days to polls from the 1990s and late 1980s. Most polls in that period horrendously overestimated Labour, resulting in the 1992 election polls which predicted a Labour victory. It took many years for pollsters to adequately reform their methods.

    Basically, ICM are comparable from about 1993, but ignore others from that vintage.

  33. I really do hope that David Miliband nominates for the shadow cabinet, although I am not sure about shadow chancellor. I have been impressed with EdBalls in recent weeks and months and would like him to shadow George Osbourne. Just keeping it in the family I was quite impressed with Yvette Cooper today as well. Ed Miliband needs to keep the best possible talent on the front benches as possible.

  34. Pete B,

    The figures of the governing party on day 144 are considerably higher than what they actually poll in the following election… day 144 1992 blues polled 38% on electionday after that they polled 30.07%.

    i was only teasing however. I dont think 2010 will be applicable given the almost certain collapse of yellows.

  35. @Roland

    I understand where you are coming from and I understand there is a certain view of broken Britain which I don’t necessarily agree with. The fact is that today there have been thousands of people whon have been given work training and educational opportunities that they didn’t have in the past. I for one had the opportunity of going to university that I wouldnt have had otherwise. The point is that if you dont offer youngsters the opportunity to progress their lives, then what is left. I am not going to say that money should be kept on spending everywhere and there is no problem with the defecit however what I am saying is that removing opportunity for our most vulnerable will have a long term social effect on this nation.

  36. John Ruddy

    Indeed graphs can vary significantly. The overall trend, however, is what matters.

    A small upward blip in a long story of decline is hardly what Harriet Harman or Iain Gray were saying.

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

  38. “Red Ed”? ha ha. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the Conservative campaign “New Labour, New Danger” and the poster of Tony with the mad, staring eyes. Will the blues ever learn? Let’s hope not

  39. John Redwood’s blog makes excellent reading (it nearly always does):

    h ttp://

  40. Aside from the mischeivous sniping, it’s clear Ed M does have some caeful positioning to think about.

    Personally I believe Darling is right and that Labour has to be seen as credible on the deficit. There are those here who think that his ‘worse cuts than Thatcher’ line cost them the election but I beg to differ. Had he not offered a much more credible line on the deficit I seriously doubt Labour would have made what was a surprisingly good showing if viewed from the polling position late in 2009. They were going to be hammered, but actually did rather better than expected.

    Ed’s line is going to have to be a mix of identifying appropriate spending targets and tax rises while defending core services and, critically, access to those services. There are some very good targets to aim at.

    I’ve talked before over how we spend £10b on tax relief for the richest 1% of earners. Trident renewal is something that splits the coalition but with many senior military people saying its a waste of money. He could tackle tax reform. A big rise in the income tax starting threshold with a rise in the rate to make a tax neutral measure and removing the upper NI threshold but reducing the rate would give big signals that Labour are back protecting the less well off in a fiscally responsible manner.

  41. @ Roland

    Our forefathers, in circumstances which today’s Briton could not even envisage, simply had to manage. A little of that guts and spirit needs to return.
    And if it weren’t for the Labour Party & the Trades Unions, most of us would still be in those circumstances, Roland.

    You may be about to see a little guts & spirit return. I wonder, will it please you when you see it?

  42. @ Eoin – “it sounds like very sour grapes”

    Yes. One more thing, on the manner of a victory:

    If I had used a public forum to offer such a level of criticisms and character slights against one of the candidates; and persisted with this campaign on a daily basis for five months, to the extent that other posters have expressed reluctance to even mention the name of that candidate, then, I might after some reflection question whether by excersising my democratic right, I had nevertheless gone beyond the spirit of political debate.

  43. BillyB,

    Sour grapes which I reject in their enirety :) I was always polite to DMs fans. He was beat and it is time to get behind the new leader which I will do. Tis your choice how to proceed.

  44. @ Anthony

    Is the YG poll truly embargo’d until 10pm or will there be tweets & suchlike before that?

  45. BillyB,

    You can’t possibly know the level of restraint I showed towards DM, becuase you have no way of knowing what I did not type. 2003 educational Select committee hearings on PFI. The Guardian JHune 2009 Snippets. words on Gordon Brown. I never posted a single sentence of detail relating to them. I know because there is an MS Word File full of it that i neglected not to post.

    My debate was about policy and ideology- it seems the major of voters agreed with me :)

  46. @Eoin – “John Redwood’s blog makes excellent reading (it nearly always does):”

    Er – not if you know anything about economics and government finance it doesn’t. Redwood has been peddling this line for a considerable time now, and it’s bogus.

    Firstly, he ignores the fact the the biggest proportion of the increase is in the first year and in years 2 – 5 the projections are for sub 2% growth in spending. If inflation does stay at 2% then the public sector will face a real terms cut.

    He then also consistently fails to talk about what the money is being spent on. Clearly, interest payments will rise considerably, meaning less money elsewhere. Then there are the naturally increasing demands on sections of the budget – more old people mean more pensions, more NHS care, more high cost dementia cases etc. Then there is inflation. currently it is above 3%, but he assumes 2% as the default position. A 1% gap, even for one year, means every year public services will be £6B short of what they need for stasis, even if the actual inflation rate in things like military equipment or health service medicines is the same as the general CPI rate. The BoE is actually forecasting inflation to be above 2% until 2012, so you are probably looking at £10 – £12B of cuts every year to accomodate that.

    Together, these take the require level of savings that are needed from current spending into some very unpleasant territory. Redwood is becoming some people’s favourite Mr Sensible. I only wish they would actually read what he writes before assigning him with any accolades.

  47. Amber – YouGov won’t release it till 10pm. The Sun can release or tweet it whenever they so desire – it’s their poll.

  48. Alec,

    I liked his comments on Vince- a lot :) He also had some excellent ideas on housing a bit further down his thread.

    In that article I particularly liked his allusion ot the pressure Public Sector managers are putting on their workers… turning offices into sweat shops on the back of ‘fear’. I also liked that he labelled all three parties narrative on cuts in the one manner.

    when it comes to his figures- you a smarter man than I- so I will defer :)

  49. @ Anthony

    Thank you – I will be hanging around here until 10pm then; usually somebody posts it here as soon as it’s out of the box. 8-)

  50. “Of course the risk for Labour is David Miliband supporters kicking up a fuss and spliting the party.”

    NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN (soz for caps but emphasis had to be made) ;)

1 2