This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 45%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8% – maintaining the conference boost for Labour that we saw straight after Ed Miliband’s speech. Looking more specificially at Ed Miliband, his job approval rating is minus 9, a big jump from minus 29 last week and his highest since the early months of his leadership back in 2010 and early 2011.
YouGov repeated the bank of questions asking people to compare David Cameron and Ed Miliband that they asked a week ago, and found significant boosts in Miliband’s figures on many measures, but that he still trails Cameron in the same places he trailed him a week ago. So the proportion of people thinking Miliband is the stronger leader is up 5 to 26%, thinking he is the most decisive up 7 to 28%, more likeable up 3 to 34%, having a better strategy on the recession up 5 to 29%, however on all of these he continues to trail behind David Cameron. The biggest single increase is on having a clear vision for Britain where Miliband is up 8 points to 30%, putting him only just behind Cameron on 32%.
30% of people said that they have a more positive view of Miliband since the party conference. The majority of these are Labour supporters anyway, but given that the pattern of previous polling has been a lot of doubt about Miliband amongst Labour’s own voters this is no bad thing for him. Miliband needed to be able to convince people who supported Labour but don’t rate him that he is up to the job, and he is making progress.
Movement on whether people Ed Miliband will ever be Prime Minister is more modest. Asked whether it is likely that Ed Miliband will ever become Prime Minister 32% of people now think it is fairly or very, 54% think it is fairly or very unlikely. Prior to conference the figures were 30% and 57%. What we need to watch now on the Miliband figures is whether these changes last or whether they drop again once memories of the conference fade.
Turning to the government 49% of people said that Ed Miliband’s description of the government as the “most incompetent, hopeless, out of touch” government was a fair description, 40% said it was unfair – unsurprisingly these figures were strongly correlated with voting intention! Actually asked to say how competent recent governments were, the coalition government comes somewhere between Blair’s government and Brown’s government – 45% think the Labour government under Blair were competent, 34% think the current coalition government under Cameron are competent, 24% think the last Labour government under Gordon Brown was competent.
Looking more specifically at how people think the government are doing, on every area asked about a majority thought the government were doing a bad job – very much in line with the negative government approval figures. Whey are viewed most positively (or least negatively!) on their handling of the economy (31% think they are doing a good job), education (29% a good job) and reforming benefits (29% a good job). They are seen as doing least well on immigration (14% a good job) and – perhaps not surprisingly given the current news headlines – transport (22% a good job).
Turning to the rail bid, 33% of people think the civil servants were mostly to blame, 45% think the ministers were, 21% don’t know. They seem happy for both to take the blame though – 58% think the government were right to suspend the civil servants responsible, 51% think Justine Greening should resign. Notably while Labour supporters invariably think government ministers under fire should resign anyway, Conservative voters are also narrowly in favour of Greening resigning – 39% to 34%.
Finally on Jimmy Savile, 54% of people think the BBC have handled the issue badly and 56% believe they are guilty of covering up allegations in the past. 54% of people think there should be a full investigation, 35% think there is nothing to be gained from an investigation given Savile is already dead.
Yesterday there was also a new Opinium poll in the Observer which had a more modest conference bounce for Labour – their voting intention figures were CON 30%(+1), LAB 41%(+2), LDEM 9%(-1), Others 20%. They found the proportion of likely voters with a positive opinion of Ed Miliband rose by 5 points from 23% to 28%.