I said earlier in the week that I’d return to Populus’s pre-conference polling what their tables were up – well, they are now available here. As usual they’ve included their regular questions on party image, which they’ve asked in roughly the same way since at least 2003, giving us a good measure of how perceptions of the parties have changed since then.

Perceptions of Labour are almost all up on last year as they start to shed the negative perceptions that built up in their final years in office. Generally speaking perceptions of Labour dropped after 2005 and (apart from a brief renaissance during the 2007 Brown boost) reached their nadir in 2008-2009. Looking at the details of this year’s poll 41% of people now think Labour share their values (up 2 from last year, and putting aside the Brown bounce the highest they’ve recorded). Also positive is their score for being “honest and trustworthy”, at 37% up 5 from a year ago and equalling their peak at the time of the Brown bounce. They also have a clear lead on “being for ordinary people, not just the better off”, but this has also been the situation in the past.

Other ratings are up, but still have some way to go before they catch up with the Conservatives or with the sort of scores Labour saw in better days. 35% of people think Labour have a good team of leaders, up 10 from last year… but that was when the party was between leaders. The rating is still poor compared to some of Labour’s historic scores and the 46% the Conservatives manage. On 36% competence is up three points since last year and better than the 30% Labour registered at their nadir, but again they trail against the Conservative’s 48%. 40% think Labour are a united party, significantly up on 28% last year but, again, that was during a leadership contest. 37% think they have clear ideas, up 4, but far behind the Conservatives’ 48%. In short, Labour are making progress, but have some way to go.

The picture for the Conservatives is pretty much a mirror of Labour’s – they are off their peak in 2008/2009, trending downwards, but generally speaking are still viewed more positively than in their dark days of 2003-2005 and still have a more positive image than Labour on most measures. 46% of people think they have a good team of leaders, down from 53% a year ago but much better than pre-2008 and much better than Labour. 36% think the Conservatives share their values (down 2), 36% think they are honest and trustworthy (down 3), 48% think they are competent (down 2), 43% think they are united (down 7%). Their worst score is that only 30% think they are “for ordinary people not the rich” – the prevailing image problem for the Tories that David Cameron’s “detoxification” strategy never really managed to get away from.

Finally there are the Liberal Democrats. Historically these Populus questions tended to show that the Lib Dems had the postive party image. That is no longer the case. They have the least positive score on every measure except being for ordinary people, where they at least beat the Tories. On having a good team of leaders they are on 31% (down 13 since last year), on sharing peoples’ values they are on 36% (down 5), on being honest they are at 35% (down 6), on competence they are at 31% (down 10), on party united they are at 27% (down 13), on having clear ideas they are at 31% (down 11). In most cases the party’s ratings had already dropped sharply last year following their decision to enter the coalition – these falls are on top of that.

In summary, go back a couple of years and people tended to give the Lib Dems the benefit of the doubt, there was a tendency for people to assume they were good, honest and caring people (even if other polls also suggested people rather doubted their policies would work or they had any chance of actually winning). That positive party image took a knock after the removal of Charles Kennedy, but was on its way to recovery by 2009. Since then it has fallen through the floor.

Tonight there are ComRes and YouGov poll due. There is also some YouGov polling on the Lib Dems in the Sun this morning, but I’ll post more fully on that when the tables appear.

53 Responses to “Populus on how the parties are seen”

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  1. @ Old Nat

    “Labour has that facility already. For example, it was a peculiarly SLAB idea that anyone leaving their house with a blade in their possession would be automatically jailed – no facility for the prosecutors or judges to take into account the circumstances – mandatory imprisonment.”

    Oh yeah, you told me about that. Probably wasn’t the best idea anyone ever came up with.

  2. Oldat

    The SNP do not appear in this poll but their rating for competence must be higher than the other parties in Scotland. It’s their USP and why people say they vote for the SNP. Clearly it isn’t because they want independence.

    Competence should be a given, the norm, the baseline. Cons score better than Lab, but that won’t last. The fact that the SNP can get a majority in the Scottish parliament on “competence” rather than vision, tells you nothing about the SNP, and everyhing about the other parties.

    It’s a sad reflection on what we have had from Westminster since …..? Harold Macmillan? Attlee? The alcoholic with a CVA in between?

  3. OldNat

    Dd you see the Angus Reid VI for Scotland which didn’t even say which parliament it was for?

    Put it in Scotlad Votes for Westminster and have a laugh.

    I will never again take seriously any poll on any subject from this company.

    I am prepared to believe that rather than static split voting, it is possible that the 2011 result represents a further point on a continuum from 2010, on the way to 2015. but there are surely limits beyond which no party can ever go.

    And yes, I would have said that applied to 2011 too and I would have been wrong.

    If true and the trend continued to the election, we would be in third world despot numbers.

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