Last night we had both YouGov and Ipsos-MORI polls, and while I’ve already written about the headline voting intention figures, both had some other interesting findings.

YouGov’s poll was conducted after the release of the GDP figures which showed the economy shrinking in the final quarter of 2011, so we can see some initial effects. The most notable has been a big increase in the proportion of people thinking the country will drop back into recession – in our Sunday Times poll at the weekend 52% of people thought it was likely Britain would go back into recession in the next twelve months, that has now grown to 64%.

51% of people think the government’s cuts are too deep and too fast and they should change direction, this compares to 37% who think they are necessary and the short term pain will be worth it in the long run.

However, this doesn’t equate to Labour being ahead on the economy – asked which party is most likely to run the economy well – 38% think the Conservatives will compared to 28% for Labour. Interestingly we also repeated a question from before the election asking which team of leader & chancellor would be best for people’s living standards. Here Miliband & Balls led Cameron & Osborne by two points. Given that other polling consistently shows Cameron is better regarded than Miliband, and Osborne and Balls are roughly equal in public regard, my guess that the difference in these questions is between “running the economy well” and “raising you and your family’s standard of living”. It’s probably a case of “the Tories would run the economy better… but boy it’s going to hurt”.

YouGov also asked about what they think Labour would be doing differently if they were in government, 55% think they would be making smaller cuts than the government (15% think they’d be cutting about the same amount, 5% even more), 32% think they’d be making bigger tax rises than the government (19% about the same and 24% smaller) and – the bottom line – 35% think the economy would be performing less well were Labour in power, 24% about the same and 24% better.

Moving over to MORI’s monthly poll, they’ve asked one of my favourite questions – the do you like the leader, the party, both or neither, for each party.

For David Cameron, 30% of people like both him and his party, 39% like neither. 17% like Cameron but not his party, 7% like the Conservatives but not Cameron. Hence, in total Cameron is liked by 47% of people (down 6 since before the election) and the Conservatives by 37% (down 1) – while Cameron’s likeability has dropped somewhat since the election, he is still viewed considerable more positively than the party he leads.

For Ed Miliband, 25% like both him and his party, 31% like neither. 11% like Miliband but not his party, 20% like Labour but not their leader. Hence in total 36% like Miliband and 45% like Labour, meaning Miliband is less popular than the party he leads (although this early in his leadership it’s going to be largely down to people not really being aware of him). The comparable figures for Gordon Brown from before the election were 37% liked Brown and 43% liked Labour – not actually much different yet, though the reasons behind it are obviously very different.

Finally MORI asked about Nick Clegg. Sadly this appears to be the first time they’ve done it for the Lib Dems, as it would have been fascinating to see the changes. Anyway, 24% like both Clegg and the Lib Dems, 35% like neither. 16% like Clegg but not the Lib Dems and 16% like the Lib Dems but not Clegg. Overall 40% like Clegg and 40% like the Lib Dems.

Some of the crossbreaks are interesting too (though normal caveats about sample sizes apply). First the pattern of perferences in the new era of coalition politics – amongst Conservative supporters, 70% like Clegg and 41% like the Liberal Democrats. Amongst Labour supporters, 35% like the Liberal Democrats and just 19% like Clegg. Attitudes to the Lib Dem party aren’t that different between Labour and Conservative voters, but attitudes to Clegg are a world apart.

Looking at parties own supporters, amongst Conservative supporters 86% like David Cameron, amongst Liberal Democrat supporters 73% like Clegg, amongst Labour supporters just 59% say they like Ed Miliband. Early days for him of course…

27 Responses to “Fear of recession, what Labour would be doing and how likeable is Ed?”

  1. So the Labour Party is more popular than the Lib Dems who are in turn more popular than the Tories. David Cameron is more popular than Nick Clegg who is more popular thanEd Miliband. I can’t help but find that strange. It is also odd that people on here say that Clegg is the most hated man in politics and no-one likes the Lib Dems anymore.


    Probably because of the disproportionate number of Labour supporters on this site at the moment. Most of the Labour supporters I know, even ones that regularly come out with opinions that could be from the Lib Dem manifesto, are very negative about the Lib Dems and especially about Clegg. Very emotive language involved.

    I’d imagine the tables will show that relatively few Labour supporters like Clegg and probably the Lib Dems in general at the moment.

  3. Colin,

    There comes a point when hatred morphs into pity.

  4. To paraphrase The Thick of It, Nick Clegg has gone from the person people just hate to the person they love to hate. From Piers Morgan to Simon Cowell.

  5. The MORI Party and/or leader questions are fun and sometimes revealing, but they don’t have all the options people may feel. You can answer ‘don’t know’ to both but not just one.

    For example you might like Labour but not be sure about Miliband yet. Or like Cameron but be becoming uncertain about the Tories.

    It’s obviously less of a problem with longer-serving leaders, but there may still be grey areas. And of course ‘like’ isn’t always the same as ‘admire’ or ‘think competent’.

  6. AW – Just a query on chronology, since unusually the economy poll is listed first in the YouGov archive of polls, before the daily poll on voting intentions. Which were asked first, the economy questions or the voting intention questions, and could a significant proportion of respondents to the latter have also answered questions on the former?

  7. I would suspect that people have grown to conflate ‘the economy’ with more abstracted things like the health of the banking system and investments and inflation. Something perhaps started back with Norman Lamont declared the unemployment was “a price worth paying” for reducing inflation. So asking about the “Economy” is not the bellwether indicator it used to be.

  8. Phil – voting intention is *always* asked first under all circumstances. The sole exception is when we asked likelihood to vote in the run up to elections, when we ask if people will vote and then who for, as it would be a bit illogical to ask it the other way round!

    The order the tables go up on the website doesn’t signify anything, just the order the person putting them up in the morning happened to do them.

  9. AW – Ta.

  10. If polls are the magic mirror and Cameron the wicked queen…Clegg and Cable…Grumpy and Dopey…does that make poor Ed Milliband Snow White?

    The trouble is that Snow White almost dies before meeting her Prince Charming and if the public is prince charming then maybe they won’t feel to fond of Ed until he suffers a political death.

    A grim tale but nevertheless one any serious Labour strategist must ponder….

    Still another Ed….Mr Heath…that most loveable of bunnies….made it to No 10 despite bad poll numbers.

    Perhaps the Magic Mirror doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

  11. The filibuster in the Lords is still grinding on, I see.

    Realistically, if the Government manages to get a guillotine used, when would be the last date they could use it and still make a May referendum?

    Nobody seems too sure. Nor does anybody much seem to know if the Lords would accept a guillotine.

    Exciting times.


    Auld Angus

    33 blue
    41 red
    12 yellow

  13. Jay Blanc 12.35

    You have a moderate case of Sour Grapes, I diagnose.

  14. Nick – in extremis the government can railroad through a bill in a single day, so in theory it could be done on February 16th or whatever the Electoral Commission’s deadline was.

    That said, it won’t be – I expect one side will blink before it comes to a guillotine, and even if it doesn’t it’ll probably be brought to a head next week, one way or another I think a timetable for the rest of the Bill will be agreed then.

    They got onto discussing public inquiries yesterday, which is the last really substantive issue that hadn’t been discussed yet in committee, so there isn’t much else that actually needs doing in committee. Most of the rest of the amendments are similar inquiry stuff, timewasting and technical amendments to the schedules which could be dealt with swiftly were the opposition amenable to it.

    There will need to be some time for report stage on things like the Isle of Wight amendment and amendments on other areas where the government have indicated they have some sympathy for the proposed amendments and will bring back amendments at report stage, but nothing that should take an awfully long time.

  15. @Anthony

    This looks suspiciously like an exercise in trawling through pretty dire polls for the Tories in the desperate search for crumbs of comfort. I’ve never been convinced by the personal “likeability” questions in political opinion polls, and being liked by the public didn’t do poor old John Major much good in 1997, did it? I accept that the question of who are regarded as the better stewards of the economy has greater significance but I don’t think the margins in favour of Cameron and Osborne shown in the polls you refer to, are greatly significant at this stage in the economic and political cycles. They might be in 2015, but not now when they’re probably more reflective of a natural inclination amongst poll respondents towards the incumbents of office. Nurses may be being clung to here for now, although isn’t it interesting how this doesn’t appear to be translating into voting intentions?

  16. ‘Nurses may be being clung to here’


    Whatever can you be referring to?

  17. For those interested in the legislation on the Parliamentary constituencies, earlier today I stumbled upon this videoed lecture on it by Ron Johnston, who knows more about the workings of the boundary commissions than anyone else:

    Worth watching if you have half an hour and an extremely anoraky interest in these things.

  18. @Howard

    “Whatever can you be referring to?”

    I was part referring to the old saying; “cling to nurse for fear of something worse”. In the context I was using it, I was thinking of the tendency in politics and in life to stick with what you’ve got for fearing that not to do so may invite something even worse. It’s the advantage of incumbency, and the disadvantage of opposition, in political terms. You don’t have to be very good, just being the holder of the office can be enough!

    Maybe a better aphorism might have been;” stick with the devil you know”!

  19. Not so much a saying – it’s from a poem by Hilaire Belloc: “Jim (who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion).”

    It isn’t actually very good to be honest, but that line remains. The more political poem from the same collection is “Lord Lundy (Who was too Freely Moved to Tears, and thereby ruined his Political Career)”. From that we get:

    “We had intended you to be
    The next Prime Minister but three:
    The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:
    The Middle Class was quite prepared.
    But as it is! . . . My language fails!
    Go out and govern New South Wales!”

  20. I suspect Howard knew all that, and had a mental picture of Barbara Windsor in “Carry on Nurse” in mind. :-)

  21. I do hope so. But I like quoting Belloc so I took the opportunity when it presented itself ;)

  22. Anthony,

    Aren’t the like the leader questions a bit misleading without finding how many people dislike each person. Dislike is actually a different thing from “liking neither” (I may not like Cameron but not dislike him either, but I could dislike Clegg).

    Surely we need a how much do you dislike this person counter-balance.

    I imagine people’s feelings are pretty neutral towards Milliband – people may not like him but similarly not many people may actively dislike him (as he isn’t in government making controversial decisions).


  23. Adrian B – the wording of the question actually says things like “I like party X but don’t like leader Y”, “I like party X and like leader Y”, “I don’t like party X or party Y”.

    Hence from these questions we can’t tell the difference between people who actively dislike people/parties and just aren’t particularly fussed about them.

  24. Doing a good job in their role.

    Cameron: 46%Con, -62%Lab, -16%LD

    Miliband: -24%Con, 41%Lab, -2%LD

    Clegg: 20%Con, -65%Lab, -16%LD

  25. @ Anthony

    I enjoyed the Belloc poem, very amusing.

    Thank you also for the video link. I’m looking forward to watching it this weekend.

  26. Thanks Anthony for that answer!

    It seems to me that it would be interesting at this stage in a parliament’s life to ask the like/not like/dislike question. A bit like in the US when you are always asked whether you have a favourable/unfavourable impression of someone and the score is given as a net figure (favourable minus unfavourable).

    It would be interesting to see whether Milliband, for example scores low on “being liked” and high on “not being liked” but low on “being disliked” (i.e. a positive score), but someone like Clegg who may have a higher “like” but a much bigger “dislike” factor (i.e. a negative score.

  27. Fascinating.

    So the voters preferred choice would be Cameron – but in charge of Labour rather than the Conservatives!

    With any wooden spoon going to the Conservative party – led by Miliband…