The full tables for YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times are now up here. As usual there were a range of subjects.
Firstly, there are some bad findings for Ed Miliband. Asked if he is “up to the job” of Labour leader, 27% said yes and 40% said no. Of course, most of those condemning him will be supporters of other political parties – for questions like this the more relevant figures are those for Labour supporters. 19% of current Labour supporters and 21% of people who voted Labour in 2010 think that Ed Miliband isn’t up to it. 23% of Labour supporters aren’t sure.
Asked whether Ed or David Miliband would have made the better leader, 36% of Labour supporters think David wouild have been better, 26% think Ed was the right choice. To some extent this shouldn’t be a surpise – after all, polls before the leadership election consistently showed the public preferred David to Ed – but clearly Ed hasn’t yet been successful in altering opinions.
As I’ve said in response to other negative ratings about Miliband – right now these ratings aren’t disasterous. Miliband doesn’t seem to have impressed people yet, but he doesn’t seem to have made a strong negative impression on the public either (there is no perception of Miliband as having “something of the night”, or Hague in his baseball cap, or even the poor old “Quiet Man”). I don’t think there’s anything so far that Miliband can’t come back from. There’s also some better news for Miliband is that people don’t think Cameron’s “son of Brown” jibe is fair – only 24% thought it was a fair description of his policies, 43% thought it was not (though I wonder whether questions like this are just the public rejecting the playground politics of slinging insults across the despatch box)
Turning to Ed Miliband’s policies, YouGov asked whether he should have done more to support the student protests, done more to distance himself, or whether he got the balance about right. Overall the public were pretty evenly spliy between the three answers, 23% thought he got it right, 23% that he should have supported it more, 26% that he should have distanced himself. Amongst Labour supporters 46% thought he got it right and 33% thought he should have supported them more, only 8% wanted him to distance himself more from the protests.
On the 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000, the subject of disagreement between Miliband and Alan Johnson, 37% agreed with Miliband’s view that it should be permanent as it is a question of fairness and values. 46% thought it should be a temporary measure to tackle the deficit and eventually be reduced to 40%. This is an unusual finding – after all, we are used to most polling showing high levels of support for higher taxes on the rich.
Moving on, there were a series of questions upon prison and sentencing policy. Asked about the government’s broad policy of using fewer short prison sentences and more community sentences, the public were evenly split – 42% supported the policy and 44% were opposed. Amongst the Conservative party’s own supporters opinions were not much different – 48% of Tories supported the policy and 44% were opposed. Asked about the opposing arguments of Ken Clarke and Michael Howard – between Clarke’s view that short prison sentences are expensive and ineffectual, and Howard’s view that “prison works” – 35% were more of the view that prison worked, 40% were more of the view that community sentences would do more to reduce crime.
Both these findings go slightly against the grain – there is an assumption that the public are very right wing on law and order, and in many cases they are (look, for examples, at polls on early release, what proportion of sentences criminals should serve, or many polls on the death penalty). However, the British public’s views on law and order are often not a stereotypical kneejerk – look, for example, at this poll from back in 2007.
Finally there were a group of questions about Wikileaks. 46% of people thought the release of the diplomatic cables was wrong, with 36% supporting it. 42% thought the releases did pose a threat to Western security.
Asked about Julian Assange, views were evenly divided – 26% agreed with the characterisation of him as a traitor to the West, 28% saw him as a champion of freedom of information. 31% did not view him as either of these extremes. In regard of the Swedish sexual assault charges against him, 43% thought the allegations against him were probably trumped up to try and silence Wikileaks, 18% thought they were probably genuine. Despite this, 52% thought he should be extradited to Sweden.