This morning’s Sun has YouGov’s first polling on perceptions of Thatcher since her death – full results are here. The majority of people think Thatcher was a great or good Prime Minister (indeed, 28% see her as the greatest of Britain’s post war Prime Ministers), but a significant minority also have strongly negative views: very few people see her as average, they were either for or against.

Overall 25% said Thatcher was a great Prime Minister, 27% good, compared to 23% who said she was terrible and 7% poor. Just 10% said average. Her ratings were not vastly different across the social spectrum, both men and women rated her highly, and while younger people born after she left office are less likely to have an opinion, those that did were still more positive than negative. Opinion gradually becomes less positive as you go northwards, but not drastically so – even in the North 49% have a positive opinion of Thatcher, 35% negative. Only in Scotland is the balance of opinion negative.

People’s views of Thatcher herself are very much in line with the media image of the “Iron Lady”. Asked what qualities she had 72% said she stuck to what she believed in, 66% thought she was strong, 59% decisive, 42% good in a crisis, 41% a natural leader. The lowest figure was being in touch with the concerns of ordinary people, something which only 11% of people now think that Thatcher was.

Her legacy for Britain is seen as more mixed. 47% think her period as Prime Minister was good for Britain, 36% bad for Britain. On balance people think her premiership left Britain economically better off, and 60% think she left the country more respected in the world. 51% think she left behind a country where there were more opportunities for women. By 36% to 31% people also think she left Britain a freer country. However 49% think she also left a less equal society behind her.

Asked about what they see as her successes and failures, Thatcher’s greatest achievement is the least political – 44% picked being the country’s first female Prime Minister. This was followed by winning the Falklands War (33%) and defeating the Miners’ strike and taming the Trade Unions (27%).

Her biggest failure was seen as the one that finally brought her down – 44% named the poll tax. This was followed by overseeing the decline of mining and manufacturing (37%) and the privatisation of utilities like British Telecom and British Gas (31%). The right to buy was picked by a significant number of people on both lists – 21% thought the introducion of the right to buy and the growth in home ownership was one of Thatcher’s greatest achievements, 22% thought selling off council housing through the right to buy was one of her worst failures.

Meanwhile the YouGov voting intention this morning was CON 33%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10%. Right at the lowest end of Labour leads by YouGov’s recent polling, but usual caveats apply (it could be the impact of the Thatcher coverage, but could equally well be normal sample variation). In contrast the latest TNS-BMRB poll, conducted over the weekend, had figures of CON 25%(-2), LAB 40%(+3), LD 10%(nc), UKIP 14%(-3).

272 Responses to “YouGov polling on Thatcher”

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  1. @TOH
    I agree that she was inspirational in every way (as I pointed out when I mentioned her oratory capacity in an earlier post) but what inspires is not neccesarily what does the most good. Her politics could have been a lot better and a lot less inspiring. Still, her politics were good in most connections, as you point out, but could have been applied better.

    I wish you the best.


  2. Reginald

    Good on you for contributing: in the current climate I think its fair to say that it’s largely left of centre but, pour moi, all thoughtful contributions are welcome.


    While you are making your mind up can I have Arsenal colours for the duration?



    Funny thought just now that Ed Miliband may turn out to be a sort of Labour’s Margaret Thatcher….

    A surprise choice, under-rated and victorious in his first GE. Another thought is that, as in 1978, when Calllaghan would probably have won, so Brown could have if he hadn’t been so bloody cautious. He should have torn GO’s inheritance initiative to shreds and called an election in the guise of “I believe I need a personal mandate from the British people”

    And he’d have got it.

    In both instances we may never have had Thatcher or EM as respective party leaders thereafter.

    Anyway, like many, I thought Ed M was not the right choice but he is managing the path to 2015 with great intelligence and political skill.

  3. Peter,
    The new one for 2015 will be.
    ‘Give us a chance on our own’


    I can see a the big trap for Labour the trap they were in during the 80s. Alistair Campbell was on TV last night wondering what the Tories were up to – spin-wise- he is sure they are up to something.

    And the repositioning back to the 80s is very possible and what Blair is warning about.

    Labour should be very wary of knee-jerk reactions to Tory positions.

    So far I am very impressed by EM and hope that he has the good judgement to negotiate the traps.

  5. @JIMJAM

    They had one in the period 1997-2010!

  6. I should say ‘continues to have’ the good judgement as so far he has been quite sure footed but it will get more and more dangerous for EM

  7. @peter cairns

    What do you think the impact of the polls indicating a Labour landslide in 2015 just at the time of the indepdendence referendum will be?

    At the moment, the Yes campaign seems to be majoring on “we dont want to be ruled by tories from London”, which is fair enough – but could backfire if it looks like we wont…

  8. @Paul Croft

    Have you retired (as New Thread Monitor)?

  9. ToH – I mean Tories asking to rule without the LDs.

  10. John,

    For a good few years up to GE 2010, the nats were convinced that a Tory government would see a surge in support for independence. This didn’t happen.

    They then said that as the cuts come in, then there would be a surge in support. This didn’t happen either.

    ….I really don’t think it matters who is in Whitehall.

  11. OK, this aspiration nation thing.

    Clearly Thatcher made much of it, and Blair. They didn’t both see it in exactly the same way, and while many aspire it can vary greatly in terms of what people aspire to.

    Home ownership is a pretty obvious winner for many. But on the other hand, while some would aspire to avoid tax, others wouldn’t dream of it unless in some officially designed way like an ISA. Some aspire to making as much dosh as possible, while many don’t and for example there are plenty doctors who chose to stick to working for the NHS rather than charging as much as possible privately.

    Aspiration is a bit vague and woolly. .. if parties are appealing to aspiration, what is it that people really aspire to on the whole?

  12. Phil H

    I have given up on al my monitoring roles – which is probably why the site is going downhill. ChrisL mistakenly thought he was speling moniter recently for example.

    I felt I couldn’t work alongside the bosses when many of my most brilliant posts were being deleted for being – and I quote – “much too good for this site.”

    I rest my case.

  13. ToH

    Hope al is ticketyboo at the hospital. As my BIG BRUV says: “getting old isn’t for cissies.”

    This is why I am remaining mentally young in defiance of my physical problems – not that any are serious; they just hurt. Personally I feel that if pain is sending you a warning message then just the once per problem would be better. Its like having an alarm clock you can’t turn off.

  14. @Paul Croft

    Thanks for that Paul. Won’t know for a week but feeling good and just B*ggering on as Churchill said during the war.

  15. @NickP _ I also agree with Oborne today.

    I’ve also picked up the news that apparently the Thatcher family are blocking invitations to Argentine officials. I think this is a gross error, regardless of what happened in the past and what the current Argentinian government is doing.

    I always thought that one of the abiding British traits we share was to be magnanimous in victory and respect our opponents. This move smacks of a vindictive spirit, and while this isn’t an official state occasion, it is in all but name, and I feel therefore reflects badly on me as a citizen.

  16. KEN
    “@ CARFREW………..The Germans did ditch prehistoric car manufacturing, we didn’t, if we had ditched prehistoric manufacturing processes and attitudes, we wouldn’t have had to rely on Indian and Japanese companies to rebuild our automotive industry.
    You’re obviously too young to remember the interruption of water supplies and the lead poisoning caused by incompetence and failure to invest….c’est la vie.”


    Sure, we didn’t always have the best processes. The Japanese stole a march on many in the West in the seventies. That tends to happen in competition. Business strives for competitive advantage. It’s not uncommon for a business, or a nation, to find a way to establish a lead. Later, someone else establishes a lead and others strive to catch up.

    Indeed this is a big part if the point of competition. The advancement you get as businesses keep trying to outdo each other.

    The point that follows on from this is that if someone else establishes a lead over you it doesn’t necessarily make sense to just give up and cede sector after sector. Instead you compete and in turn outdo them.

    With banking we didn’t just give up after we screwed up. We bailed it out. If we give up every time we screw up or someone outperforms we won’t have much left.

    In the seventies the car industry was always going to struggle because of the double-whammy of the oil crisis and the emergence if the Japanese. We weren’t alone in struggling, as these factors acted globally. But the oil crisis hit us harder than some of our rivals; the US had inflation but not as bad as ours because they still had a lot of their own oil to shield them from the price hikes instituted by the gulf oil states

    Italy, however, like us, had much higher inflation. The US did suffer from outdated practices in the face of the Japanese onslaught but rather than give up they continued. Recently their car industry was hammered again but they rescued it because. .
    – it’s worth saving for when the upturn comes
    – especially when you factor in supply chains etc.
    – and attracting more investment
    – and maintaining demand in the economy and confidence
    – as opposed to wasting money paying people to be on the dole
    -;you need resilience in an economy. As we have seen, sometimes industry may take a hit, at other times the dotcom thing, or services like banking. It helps if not overly specialized.
    – more optimum use of human capital. We have people with a bent for engineering so let’s use that

    Even if one decides that an industry is not worth saving, it’s better to put something better in it’s place. But little was put in place to make use of the human capital made redundant. Inefficient and costly.

    There is this idea, that you expressed yourself in the “shopkeeper” comment, that it’s somehow not in our nature to do the engineering thing. Not true and actually we are brilliant at it. Other countries for example tried to make supersonic airliners but couldn’t make it work. It took massive action by other countries to thwart it comnercially: directly in banning it, plus indirectly in quadrupling the price of oil.

    Related to this is this idea of industry and engineering being “prehistoric”.It really isn’t. Much of it is so complex and advanced it would fry the brains of your average chief exec. The aerodynamics of just a wing mirror would probably do it.

  17. Grant Shapps “analysis” of Tony Blair’s article is molto droll.

  18. More to the point Alec why on earth ARE Thatcher’s family blocking Argentinians from being invited? What is the problem? Did Maggie secretly hate Argies?

    Just because we had a war over some disputed islands, why should Thatcher’s family take such umbridge?

    It’s odd.

  19. Would the Argentines actually have sent anyone?

  20. Couper/Roland

    “So it is difficult to pin the decline on MT but she does get all the blame.”

    That’s true, it started before her time, but she symbolised what the Cons were becoming and had become, and why they no longer reflected the values of the Scottish middle class.

  21. Peter

    Often the best indicator of the final result is the last polls before the pre election conferences, in this case October 2014. If the polls are where they are now then it will barring “Events” be A Labour majority of 100+.”

    So in your view Oct 14 is the watershed, but if it is going to be a sufficient change it won’t happen overnight, and there needs to be sustained movement over a period of Months.

    I would like to know if there is a consensus here as to when we need to see some movement if your prediction is going not going to turn out to be correct. Even the most blinkered partisan has to accept the probability of defeat the closer we get to declaring the count.

    February14 anybody? Persuade me otherwise please, if you will.

    If at that time the referendum looked like YES or even close, how would that affect it?

  22. Reg

    This weeks Observer has an article that shows the services available from a dominatrix.

    I am sure that a specialist, though expensive, can do a better job than MT.

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