The tables for the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, covering attitudes to Ed Miliband, the government’s recent U-turns, Rowan Williams and the Royal Family.

In the last few days the media narrative seems to have shifted significantly against Ed Miliband, with lots of stories in the media about him being in trouble, having a year to sort himself out, etc. Looking trough them there aren’t really many named figures there: it’s mostly “friends of” or unnamed former ministers. In any stories about internal party rumblings then unless there are names it’s impossible to judge whether it is just the usual suspects (any party has certain malcontents who can always be guaranteed to sound off about the leader), or if there actually are serious rumblings within the Parliamentary party.

What we can be more confident about is that public perceptions of Ed Miliband are not encouraging (and, of course, that will to some extent be due to the media portrayal of him, but that’s part of the game). Miliband’s approval rating today is down to minus 23, his lowest since becoming leader. Only 19% of people think Labour made the right decision in choosing him as leader, with 51% thinking he was the wrong choice.

Responses to questions like this are largely partisan, Conservative and Lib Dem supporters naturally don’t tend to be impressed by the performance of Labour leaders. However, Ed Miliband’s ratings are mediocre even amongst his own party supporters. 41% of Labour voters think he was the wrong choice. 45% of Labour voters think that David Miliband would be a better leader than his brother. Labour voters are evenly split (48% to 47%) on whether Ed is providing an effective opposition, only 43% say they are clear what he stands for (54% not clear), and only 39% of Labour voters think he has a credible policy on the economy (26% do not and 35% are uncertain).

Of course, in Miliband’s favour, under his leadership Labour are ahead in the polls. However, what we can’t tell is whether they’d be further ahead under a different leader, or what would happen in an election campaign when voting intention becomes (to some extent) more a choice between alternative governments.

If we look at the last two leaders of the opposition who went on to become Prime Minister, Tony Blair and David Cameron, Ed Miliband is quite evidently not in the same league. His approval ratings are now solidly negative, while Blair’s figures were consistently positive, and Cameron’s figures positive apart from the temporary effect of the “Brown honeymoon”. Ed’s polling figures risk becoming more reminscent of a Hague or an IDS, despite Labour actually doing relatively well in voting intention polls and (non-Scottish) elections. It takes time for party leaders to establish themselves, but Ed Miliband has had quite a lot of time now and seems to be getting the thumbs down. Once negative perceptions have established themselves in the public mind it takes something to shift them.

Before one writes him off though, the question I ponder is whether we just happen to have been spoiled by Blair and Cameron? Only two leaders of the opposition have become Prime Minister in the last 30 years, and they were cut from quite similar cloth, both charismatic figures who very clearly changed the whole political terrain when they became leader. It is clear Ed Miliband does not fit that mould and whatever you think of him, he has clearly not set the political world alight. However just because only one type of opposition leader has succeeded in the last 30 years, it doesn’t mean only that type of leadership can succeed (hell, if John Smith has not died, Labour would almost certainly still have won in 1997 and we’d have a very different model of what a successful opposition leader looks like). Mrs Thatcher did not set the world alight as Leader of the Opposition, yet won and went onto win three terms. That said, politics has changed since the 1970s and I remember many Conservatives whistling that same empty tune past the graveyards of Hague and IDS’s leaderships…

On other issues, given the unpopularity of the NHS reforms and increasing sentence reductions for pleading guilty, it’s unsurprisingly that people overwhelmingly though the government was right to change and drop the plans. How people viewed the changes were largely along party lines – Conservatives and Liberal Democrats tended to think it showed that the government were listening and willing to change, Labour respondents tended to think that it showed the government were weak or incompentent or hadn’t thought their policies through.

YouGov also asked how much people trusted David Cameron to fulfil the five pledges he gave on the NHS this week – 40% trusted him a little or a lot, 54% did not trust him a lot or at all. As one might expect, the there was a strong party skew – 86% of Conservative voters trusted him a lot or a little (and only 1% not at all), 86% of Labour voters didn’t trust him much or at all, Lib Dem voters were pretty evenly split.


199 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times on Ed Miliband”

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  1. @colin – you are right. We need to see fully costed public sector units as well, but to try and do this in a way that doesn’t involve huge administrative burdens in data handling.

  2. Colin

    Thank you for clarifying things. But I imagine joe public will see it as another U-turn.

    The gov is too fast and too furious.

  3. @COLIN & MIKE N
    The withdrawal of the 26k cap. The Daily Mail was blabing this story all over its front page. Ian Duncan Smith has repudiated the suggestion that the cap is being removed.

  4. ICEMAN

    “( i.e. it is not reducing the deficit)”

    Er…..it is :-

    Deficit at end FY-£bn

    09/10 £157bn outurn
    10/11 £139 bn outurn
    11/12 £122 bn forecast
    12/13 £101 bn forecast
    13/14 £ 70bn forecast
    15/15 £46 bn forecast.

    Forecasts -2011 Budget Red Book.

    It is interesting that your ( incorrect) statement is reflected in an EB criticism today in The Mirror , that the current forecast deficit for 2014/14 ( £46bn) is higher than it was in last years Budget ( £ 37bn)

    So EB is now criticising GO for not reducing the deficit quickly enough !

    GO made it clear after IMF warned about the effect of growth slippage on public finances, that the fiscal tightening programme would not be flexed to compensate .

  5. @MIKE N
    Your view of the world and events is continually covered in a red mist. The leader of a major political party, “must be given time”, “must be given confidence” must cosseted like a child who has been ill. The man is a loser and it is blindingly obvious to the more intelligent Labour supporters. When the Tories chose the wrong people to lead them, I bet your comments were a real treat to behold. As for IDS making a U turn, what possible excuse have you got to make that statement ? The acid test about Ed Milliband, is that we love him and want him to stay.

  6. “Policy Light” EM has actually come out with some Policy today. Two soft-policies about encouraging people on benefits to do volunteer work by moving them up the housing waiting lists if they do, and of requiring corporations to publish the ratio between their highest and lowest salary. And one pretty heavy weight policy of introducing a requirement to involve a worker representative on the board of the remuneration panels or executives which set wages, which would be similar to the German wage laws iirc.

  7. LordTory

    “The man is a loser and it is blindingly obvious to the more intelligent Labour supporters.”

    Patronising and insulting.

    “…that we love him and want him to stay.”

    Gosh, as ever the Cons know best.

  8. Further to Jay Blanc’s comment I understand that Mr Miliband has said that “Labour must change”. People who make a long term habit of living on benefits should not have the support of Labour, he says. I am glad that even though many Labour posters thought this kind of money squandering was wonderful, their party leader does not, it seems. I have no idea when he was on the road to Damascus, he should watch himself in Syria at present.

  9. MIKEN

    “The gov is too fast and too furious.”

    Perhaps-but there were /are considerable pressures to get on with things :-

    Public Finances-Credibility with buyers of UK Debt.

    Higher Education-the Browne Report already in the system & pressure from institutions over their financial viability ( as emphasised in Simon Hughes’ remarks today ! )

    Schools- the inheritance of the administrative shambles & underfunding of the BSF programme, together with the ridiculously high high cost it engendered.

    Welfare – The huge pressure to reduce the benefit culture & ensure that net jobs growth ( when it comes) will not once again suck in cheap foreign labour.

    NHS-Having rejected the Labour policy and gone for funding increases ( at least nominally) rather than cuts, the premium internal NHS inflation rate was always going to require huge savings just to stand still-answer , get rid of some of the bureaucracy asap.

    The fact of the matter is that this IS a government in a hurry.
    It has a very large agenda for change-much of it of a deeply structural nature after 13 years of Labour administration.
    It relies on a coalition sticking together-and a second term is not guaranteed -not even probable until beneficial outcomes are apparent to voters.

    DC can only try to hold the coalition together, whilst keeping the central core of policy objectives preserved through the turbulence of coalition life & negotiation.

    It’s not going to be pretty-or smooth, & it will give Labour the constant opportunity to look for & find changes of tack.

    But provided they are not changes of direction government supporters just have to keep focussing on the wood, & forget the trees occasionally

  10. mike n
    “Patronising and insulting”.

    After your oft expressed view of the current and past Tory leadership, only someone with the Labour supporters capacity for being a hypocrite, could say that.

  11. @Lord Tory

    Really? I don’t know of a single PM or DWP Secretary of State in living memory who hasn’t said “People who make a long term habit of living on benefits should’nt have our support”. In your imaginary pre-2010 world, did Blair or Brown ever tell everyone that Welfare was a free-for-all, and to just hop on the dole?

  12. I just wonder who people would like to have in Ed Milliband’s place. In the leadership election I voted for Ed Balls with EM second.
    I guess EB’s chances off being leader are all but finished, so who does that leave?

    As his lordship was saying in an earlier post, if the economy hasnt picked up by the next GE, and I dont believe it will, then the coalition is finish regardless of who is the labour leader.
    “It’s the economy stupid”.

  13. Colin
    “The fact of the matter is that this IS a government in a hurry.”

    Aye.

    IMO, DC and the Cons are using the deficit as a pretence for justifying ideological policies.

  14. LordTory

    Lol.

    You have descended into abuse yet again.

  15. LordTory
    ““The man is a loser…”

    Hmm, you have such a short memory (or perhaps selective memory).

    I recall DC failing to obtain an OM and that is against a tired Lab gov with very bad economic figures.

    Go figure who’s the real loser.

  16. I start to wonder that, if Lord Tory is a fair example of the Conservative Party, that they may well make the fatal error of bravado and intentionally derail the coalition for early elections they are sure they can win.

  17. @jay blanc
    I see Jay, so Labour have been fully supportive of the savings on “welfare” the coalition has set its cap at, have they ? The reality is, they have found that this element of coalition policy has struck a very big chord across all sections of society and they want to get on the band wagon.

  18. @Colin – re the deficit, while I can’t speak for him, I would imagine that Iceman was trying to make the point that the deficit reduction strategy was not meeting it’s own targets. In this he is correct, with the deficit forecast now being £11b higher every year from the initial June 2010 budget forecasts due to much poorer economic growth than anticipated.

    The growth figures currently being assumed are still likely to be overestimations, especially in 2011 and 2012. Osborne has confirmed that he does not foresee additional cuts but is content to slow the pace of deficit reduction if this is the case, with his remaining hope of meeting his target to eliminate the structural deficit in 4 years likely to be achieved by reclassifying what the structural element of the deficit is.

  19. @Lord Tory,

    Would that be the bandwagon started in 2008 when the Conservative Party complained that Labour had lifted their welfare reform policy from a conservative white paper?

  20. @Alec

    Be ready for a surprise announcement that “We have already eliminated the bulk of Structural Deficit”.

  21. “( i.e. it is not reducing the deficit)”

    Er…..it is :-

    Deficit at end FY-£bn

    09/10 £157bn outurn
    10/11 £139 bn outurn
    11/12 £122 bn forecast
    12/13 £101 bn forecast
    13/14 £ 70bn forecast
    15/15 £46 bn forecast.”

    You have presented treasury forecasts for 2015 as fact.

    Of course, only time will tell. Let’s all hope for a balanced budget. I think you could be more realistic though. In a period of minimal growth and high unemployment, these figures for future borrowing are pure guesswork.

    How much better would the borrowing figures be if an alternative less drastic approach was being taken to cutting public sector spending? That is the question Iceman was really getting at.

    The truth of a counter-factual conditional statement can never be established – so let’s file our answers under “general ignorance”.

  22. @mike n
    You were the guy who got a bollocking from AW for banding the word gerrymandering around very loosely.
    The lead Labour has at the moment, is very similar to the lead the Tories had last May. AW calculates a Labour majority of 62. The Tories could not even get a majority, as you so rightly remind us. No wonder Cameron the loser is going to change things.

    @JAY BLANC
    The band wagon started about 12 months ago when the coalition announced cuts in welfare payments.
    The very good reaction this received from ordinary non-political nerd people, is that to which I refer.

  23. @Colin – “But provided they are not changes of direction government supporters just have to keep focussing on the wood, & forget the trees occasionally”

    The problem is that we are seeing numerous complete U turns. It now looks very much like the NHS bill will be completely different to the original, with the Sec of State back in charge of the NHS. As Nick Robinson blogs, the first line of the bill is going to be altered and the revolution in the NHS will now not happen.

    Interestingly, I have also read today that there will be more commissioning bodies under the revised proposals than there were under the PCT system. Each with their own administration overheads and staffing requirements.

    Even the central theme of this government (deficit reduction) is now much less clear than it was, and there is little in terms of a coherent approach to governance on view at present.

  24. What’s worrying is that Lansley may still cling to his view that existing enabling-legislation allows him to push through the bulk of his reforms without a new bill. He has already been acting on this principle, by starting the dismantling process on PCTs before the legislation to provide their replacements was passed.

    It is not quite clear what would happen should Lansley decide to use his reading of enabling-legislation to push on ahead with his ideas for reform without a specific parliamentary mandate. Would DC be forced to remove him?

  25. LordTory

    So, let’s be clear…you’re saying that the reason for reducing the number of MPs to 600 and amending constituency boundaries is intended to deliver a Con majority?

  26. @iananthonyjames – I have a sneaking suspicion that the 2011 deficit might actually go up. @Colin always brands me a pessimist, but in the current economic outlook, I am.

    Markit/Cips is now predicting very weak Q2 GDP figures of +0.3% and the ONS has released figures showing a 26% fall in new orders in the construction sector for the Jan – Mar 2011 period, suggesting that there will be no bounce back from the very poor Q4 figures in that sector. The retail figures for May have been very poor and manufacturing is actually contracting already, with new orders still falling.

    I really struggle to see how the private sector can continue to create new jobs against this backdrop and without the continuation of rapid growth in employment in the private sector the public sector job cuts (almost certain to be much larger than the OBS thinks according to survey data) will have a serious impact on the budget figures.

    If this were just the UK, people could happily dismiss me as being overly pessimistic. However, the Eurozone is currently operating a slow motion bailout of banks in the periphery countries, which will run out of money very soon, and the far east is slowing very sharply as China desperately tries to avert a sudden slump (many analysts think the rapid Indian growth explosion has gone too far already and that they cannot now avoid a crash).

    With the east applying the brakes hard and the west cutting sharply, and a likely Bank Crash Mk 2 just around the corner, I don’t see much in the way of a happy economic landscape in the next four years.

  27. @MIKE N

    “You have descended into abuse yet again.”

    Why do you think your opinion of the PM, can be class ridden, abusive and insulting, but my opinion of the leader of the opposition should be sweetness personified?

    You guys had a possible Captain Nice in “bruv” or a clever bullyboy in Balls. However, you let the Trade Unions stitch you up. Even you cannot blame the Tories for that. Or perhaps you can.

  28. @mike n
    So, let’s be clear…you’re saying that the reason for reducing the number of MPs to 600 and amending constituency boundaries is intended to deliver a Con majority?

    I said nothing remotely of the kind. What I said was, 6% lead = majority of 62. OR 6% lead = majority of sweet fcuk all.

  29. @jay blanc
    I probably am not a good example of Toryism. But my devotion to the coalition is complete. Dumping the LDs just for parliamentary gain would not enter my head.

  30. LordTory
    “I said nothing remotely of the kind.”
    Here’s what you said…

    “The lead Labour has at the moment, is very similar to the lead the Tories had last May… The Tories could not even get a majority, as you so rightly remind us. No wonder Cameron the loser is going to change things.”

    Perhaps you wuld care to explain the implication of the last sentence?

    “Why do you think your opinion of the PM, can be class ridden, abusive and insulting, but my opinion of the leader of the opposition should be sweetness personified?”

    Please draw my attention to any post where I have been abusive and insulting to DC. I have criticised him and the gov.

  31. LordTory
    Furthermore, you misunderstood my post below:

    “LordTory
    “The man is a loser and it is blindingly obvious to the more intelligent Labour supporters.”

    Patronising and insulting. ”

    You were being patronising and insulting to me.

  32. @MIKE N
    The implications of my last sentence is that the Boundary Commission will put forward suggestions regarding redrawing constituency boundaries in a more equitable way than at present. As leader of the Conservative party David Cameron will fight the parties corner.

    I find your fixation with the present “lopsided” arrangement a bit of a worry.

    You have never insulted Cameron a, well I don’t take notes of your comments, so I will have to take your word for it.

  33. LordtOry
    “You have never insulted Cameron a, well I don’t take notes of your comments, so I will have to take your word for it.”

    I will accept that as apology.

    “I find your fixation with the present “lopsided” arrangement a bit of a worry.”

    I have no problem with boundaries being revised. I have no problem with the number of MPs being reduced or increased or held stable. Nor do I have a problem with PR replacing FPTP. What I do have a problem with is creating a situation where a party (of any kind) is able to make it more difficult to vote it out of office. The boundary changes may lead to more safe Tory seats. If this is the case it seems to me a regrettable and undemocratic outcome of the changes.

  34. We really should congratulate the Tory spin machine for their attempt to turn the media heat away from the various recent weaknesses of the coalition onto the Labour leadership. A coordinated release by the Telegraph of stolen private documents that they hope will damage Ed Balls, and several different (coordinated?) attacks on Ed Milliband – ignoring, naturally, the rejection by his brother of attempts to drive a wedge between them.
    Even the Guardian isn’t ashamed to be used in this way.

  35. LordTory

    My understanding is that the Lab advantage derives from the way the Lab vote is spread across the UK so that an increase in the Lab vote achieves a larger number of won seats than the same increase in the number of seats won by the Cons. In addition, the Cons stack up very large majorities in some seats and are effectively ‘wasted’.

    If I have misunderstood this I’m sure AW and others will put me right.

  36. @mike n
    If any tribe have reason to be so nervous and dubious about built in advantage it is us, not you.

    Regarding the supposed insult to yourself. There is a tidy number of Labour posters on this site who would support Pippa Pig if she were a Labour minister. Rob Sheffield the scourge of the Tory devils, has at least got the strength of character to face the truth. He knows that Labour were stitched up. Anyway, I reiterate, Ed will do for me.

  37. A large part of the reason that the polls translate into seats as they do is down the to FPTP system, which the Conservatives have campaigned so hard to keep.

    If the Labour vote is distributed efficiently to just win a large number of seats whilst the Tories stack up enormous majorities on very high turnouts in the shires, that’s just the way it is.

    You can pick the number of seats that’s most likely to lead to a Conservative majority, but it’s pretty marginal stuff, and I’d imagine that there will be some very disappointed people when they realise that the redrawing of the boundaries is going to make far less difference than they thought.

  38. Mike N – there are various different factors that contribute (and people group and classify these factors in different ways) basically it comes down to this though:

    (1) Over-representation of Wales and (pre-2005) Scotland compared to England

    (2) Conservative seats tending to have larger electorates than Labour seats (this is due to the slowness of boundary charges – there is no bias when they are drawn up, but they become more and biased towards Labour as time passes, since people tend to move from the inner city Labour seats to suburban and rural Conservative seats. Boundary revisions then push them back towards equality). The current boundaries, which came into force in 2010, are based on the electorate in 2000 or 2001.

    (3) Turnout. There tends to be lower turnout in inner city (i.e. Labour) seats, than in rural (i.e. Conservative) seats (note that this largely covers the wasted vote thing you mentioned – Labour actually tend to have more super-safe seats with lots of wasted votes than the Tories do, but those seats have low turnouts, while the Conservative super-safe seats have good turnouts, meaning numerically there are more wasted Tory votes.

    (4) Tactical voting. In recent elections voters have tended to vote tactically against the Conservatives, but not against Labour. This means that if Labour get 35-40% of the vote in a seat they’ll normally win it, because the vote against them will be split. If the Conservatives get 35%-40% of the vote in a seat they often don’t win it, since the anti-Tory vote will vote tactically to defeat them.

  39. @ JAYBLANC

    “did Blair or Brown ever tell everyone that Welfare was a free-for-all, and to just hop on the dole?”

    So remind me why James Purnell resigned ?

    IANANTHONY JAMES

    “You have presented treasury forecasts for 2015 as fact. ”

    No I haven’t.

    They are what they are-they may or may not turn out that way. If ICEMAN is right & 2014/14 Deficit is still equal to or larger than the current deficit then you will be pleased to know that another Con Government is highly unlikely-ever :-)

    “How much better would the borrowing figures be if an alternative less drastic approach was being taken to cutting public sector spending? ”

    I don’t know-perhaps you can explain how not reducing public expenditure will reduce borrowing.

    @ ALEC

    “Even the central theme of this government (deficit reduction) is now much less clear than it was,”

    I disagree entirely. I see no evidence to support that view whatsoever.

    ” I don’t see much in the way of a happy economic landscape in the next four years.”

    You could well be correct. The Times today has a feature on inflation over the last five years on Utilities, Fuel, Food staples etc. The numbers are truly frightening and in the context of pay freezes & pay restraint can only point to severe fiscal caution by consumers.

  40. @IAN G
    “A large part of the reason that the polls translate into seats as they do is down the to FPTP system, which the Conservatives have campaigned so hard to keep”.

    Ian we did not campaign at all hard. The general public, most of whom have as much interest in politics and elections as I have in bungee jumping. The alternative was so ridiculously complicated that they just went glazed eyed. I know the following is partisan, but I do not intend it to be. The criticism that Cameron cannot possibly understand ordinary people because he is stinking rich, is often heard. However, what do E Milliband and Clegg know of ordinary people, if they thought they were going to sell that dogs breakfast to the British public.

  41. AW

    Thanks – I’d forgotten about the overrepresentation in Scotland and Wales.

  42. AW is correct in his four points, but it does not follow that all of them amount to a bias that should be actively eliminated from our electoral system within any boundary review:

    Point 1 (Scotland and Wales overrepresentation) and point 2 (larger electorates in Conservative seats) do clearly amount to an unwarranted bias. From a democratic standpoint, you can perhaps argue against the precise mechanism in which the boundary commission is seeking to correct this (e.g. use of registered electorates rather than official population estimates) but not against the principle that it should be corrected.

    But by contrast, point 3 (lower turnout) cannot be corrected for once you accept the principle that MPs are there to represent constituents whether or not they choose to vote and point 4 (tactical voting) is simply a reflection of popular will. I’m comfortable with any variation in representation that arises from either of these causes.

  43. Good speech by EM on welfare.

    James Purnell must have wry smile on his face .

  44. @Alec – “NHS bill will be completely different to the original.”

    If this is the case, most commentators think this puts in doubt the savings that were hoped for from the original bill.

    Also today the home office is setting out the billions in lost tuition fees and other revenue that it will cost to bring down the number of foreign students (to meet immigration targets).

  45. Interesting polling news. The new Populus poll shows Tories up 2 at 39%, Labour up 1 at 40% and LD’s down to 9%. On the economy only 23% think the two Ed’s could do better on the economy down from 33% last time the question was asked.

  46. Haha, fixed my calculation for the 30-day(ish) weighted figures (I think).
    I originally thought my incorrect figures were biased toward the Tories – but my latest Tory figure is now 37.18% when before it was 37.08%.
    Hopefully this is actually fixed now.

    Then I just have to rewrite the Labour and LibDem calcs and reformat a bunch of dates.

    I realise that nobody is really that bothered – but since I’ll be using these figures in the future, perhaps posting is worthwhile?

  47. @THE OTHER HOWARD
    Interesting post, results seem a bit optimistic though.
    Forgive my assumption, but you remind me of what J Enoch Powell said when he went to Ulster, “no longer a Conservative, but always a Tory”.

  48. @COLIN
    I have read Ed Miliband’s speech but not heard it. I remember, mentioning in the Guardian, that many years ago I heard Barbara Castle talking about “we are the party of labour, we should all work with our brains and brawn, to earn our daily bread”. Well, the readership would not believe Mrs Castle would have said that. Tory swine that I was, I had invented it. Interesting that the leader of HM’s opposition has tried to reinstate that very sound attitude into his party.

  49. I’ve just come back from a day being partisan, and looking forward to some balanced political discussion on UKPR.

    Just read through the posts. Oh dear.

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