Full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, covering Miliband’s leadership, Scottish independence, abortion, alcohol and shoplifting.
Last night I pondered whether the reason the polls were still close between Labour and the Conservatives was a lasting effect of the veto, or a reflection of Labour’s current troubles. The regular trackers in the YouGov poll would suggest the latter – government approval and David Cameron’s approval ratings are both falling back towards their pre-veto levels, government approval is back down to minus 26, David Cameron’s approval rating is back down to minus 10. In contrast, Ed Miliband’s figures get ever worse, dropping to minus 49 (from minus 46 a week ago). Amongst Labour’s own supporters only 46% think he is doing well, compared to 49% who think he is doing badly.
Asked if Miliband had the right policies to be Prime Minister and whether he looked or sounded like a Prime Minister, only 7% thought he both had the policies and the look/sound to be PM. 43% thought he had neither (including, as one would expect, most Tories). The interesting bit is the rest, only 4% thought he looked like a PM but didn’t have the right policies, 27% thought he had the right policies, but didn’t look or sound like a PM. Amongst Labour’s own supporters only 16% thought Miliband had the right policies and the right look/sound, 5% of Labour supporters thought he had the right look/sound but the wrong policies, 59% of Labour supporters thought he had the right policies but didn’t look or sound like a possible Prime Minister.
For all the discussion of Labour’s policy stance on the economy (though in the longer term, that will be extremely important too), this appears to be the ultimate problem with Ed Miliband – people don’t think he looks the part of Prime Minister. It is not, as John Humphrey’s suggested, anything as crude as Ed Miliband being “too ugly” to be Prime Minister (YouGov asked and only 10% agreed), but a general image. It backs up earllier findings like that in December when, despite Labour having been ahead in the polls for a year, only 17% of people and only 37% of Labour’s own supporters thought it likely that Ed Miliband would ever be Prime Minister. This is a real problem for Miliband – policies can be changed, it is extremely difficult to change the public’s perception of a leader once it has settled. Miliband’s ratings did get a good hike after hackgate last year, but it was purely temporary, Labour need to get something like that which sticks.
The rest of the poll covered Scottish independence (which I’ll do a seperate post on later),
attitudes towards alcohol pricing, lobbying, shoplifting and abortion.
On Alcohol pricing, people are pretty evenly split over cut-price promotions on alcohol – 47% think they are a good thing, 42% a bad thing. 53% oppose a minimum price on alcohol, 47% support it, although largely at at quite low levels. 30% would support a minimum pricing at the suggested 45p a unit or less (the equivalent of about £1 for a pint of beer), 17% would support a higher minimum price.
On shoplifting, 16% of people admitted that they had shoplifted at some point in their lives. 50% of people saw it as a less serious type of theft than burgulary or mugging, compared to 45% who thought it was about the same. Asked what the appropriate punishment should be for a first time shoplifter, 23% thought they should be given a caution, 30% a fine, 30% community service, 11% a jail sentence.
Finally YouGov asked about the time limit for abortion. 5% of people supported a higher limit, 34% supported the status quo of a 24 week limit, 37% supported reducing the time limit and 6% supported a total ban on abortions. As you often find on abortion questions, women were more likely than men to support a reduction in the time limit for abortion (49% of women supported a tighter limit, compared to 24% of men.)