The monthly Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard is out today and has topline voting intention figures of CON 29%(+2), LAB 38%(-2), LDEM 10%(-1), UKIP 15%(+2). Full tabs are here.

The poll also repeated some questions on whether Ed Miliband was ready to be PM, and the Labour party ready to return to government. 66% of people thought Miliband was NOT ready to be PM compared to 24% who thought he was (an improvement from 2011 when MORI last asked the question and only 17% thought he was ready). In comparison 29% think Labour are ready to form a government, 58% think they are not.

There is a temptation to look at questions like this and think “Oh Labour have 38% support but only 24% think Miliband is ready to be PM, so more than a third of Labour voters don’t think he is ready”. It doesn’t necessarily work like that, though in this case it isn’t far off. Voting intention figures exclude don’t knows and won’t vote, so are not comparable in this way. You need to look at the detailed tables here. For what it’s worth, and obviously there is a long time to go and these figures have tended to improve over time, 50% of Labour voters think Miliband is ready, 37% disagree.

In the meantime, how good or bad are those figures? Here is MORI’s historical results for the question for leaders and parties. Looking at mid-term figures (rather than when the question has been asked in election campaigns) in 2008 43% thought David Cameron was ready to be PM, in 2003 30% of people thought Michael Howard was ready, in 2003 just 16% thought IDS was, in 2000 18% thought Hague was. The figures for Tony Blair were much higher – in 1994 59% of people thought he was ready to be PM.

Yesterday there was also a new Angus Reid poll, which had topline figures of CON 27%(-3), LAB 39%(nc), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 16%(+4). Changes are from the Angus Reid poll in the Sunday Express at the end of January (note that the Angus Reid website instead gives changes from their poll in early January, hence the mismatch).

Finally this morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%… so back to normal after that seven point figure yesterday. I hate to say I told you so, but…

292 Responses to “Ipsos MORI/Standard – CON 29, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 15”

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  1. I guess using the ‘ready’ formulation means some are prepared to to see if he can become ready in the next 2 years.
    An interesting question could be be along the lines of can you envisage when some saying ‘no ready’ may say yes?

  2. If you look at the pattern of Cameron and Howard’s figures, it is likely to rise as an election approaches (which makes sense… one gets more ready for something as it approaches!). Blair’s didn’t, but his figures were high from the off.

    Whether you’d necessarily get that from asking people now what they think they’ll think in 2 years is a different question. Possibly not. People are really crap at predicting their own future opinions (for example, if we ask people if they think they’ll change their mind before the election and then compare their answers come the actual election… they aren’t good!)

  3. The 11 point lead could just be an outlier and the actual lead be down to 7/8 points! :P

  4. AW.

    I know it’s fashionable to highlight the “Is EM PM material” type question and to compare the figures against previous hapless and unsuccessful LoO’s.

    But that ignores context. IDS/Hague/Howard all bumbled along at around or below Miliband’s current levels, and of course they didn’t win elections. But they were competing against a PM who dominated the political scene and had generally a high satisfaction rating.

    Today’s context is very different. There are equally, if not more, worrying figures for DC in the MORI poll. As Slide 8 on the following link shows, DC is at the sort of satisfaction level that has usually presaged the end of a Premiership.

    He’s at the level of Brown/2009, Major/1996, Blair/2006 and Thatcher/1990 (&Feb1982…)

    So yep, EM is not loved by many. But DC is very much in the same boat. Barring something remarkable happening in the next 24 months, one of them is going to confound recent precedent.

  5. It seems to me that Labour will be gambling hugely on the outcome of the TV debates. I’m assuming no change of leader before then of course.

    These ‘ready or not ready’ results would have me quivering as Lab spin doctor.

  6. @ Howard

    What TV debates? Do you really think we’ll have them?
    What do you do with Farage? Polite answers only please.

  7. howard

    Are you sure there will be a debate?

  8. A further reflection on the MORI data.

    They give data for Sat/Dissat of EM & DC for the whole poll data set and for Lab/Con supporters respectively.

    The figures are:

    All voters (1010 response)
    EM- 34%(343 response)——50%(505 response)
    DC- 32%(323)——————–60% (606)

    Lab supporters (330 responses)
    EM- 52%(171)—————34%(112)

    Con supporters (242 responses)
    DC- 71%(172)—————22%(53)

    By simple subtraction therefore, we can get a feel for how non-Lab/Con supporters see EM and DC respectively

    non-Lab supporters (680 responses)
    EM- 172 response (25%)—————393 response (58%)

    non-Con supporters (768 responses)
    DC- 151 response (20%)—————553 response (72%)

    I’m drawn to the same conclusion that I have been making from similar data for the last 2 years. Neither leader is very attractive to people who don’t support their party[1]. Which leads me to believe that neither leader will have much of an influence on pulling people from Party A to Party B. In other words, the qualities (or lack thereof) of the leaders are more irrelevant than at any other recent time.

    But I REALLY hope the Tories continue in their belief that 2015 is theirs because EM is a liability.

    [1]In fact, as we have regularly seen EM is distinctly less unattractive to non-Lab supporters than DC is to non-Cons.

  9. Lefty,

    Plus Hague and IDS were leading a party that was trailing badly in the polls, not leading them.

    It would be interesting to have the “Ready to be Prime Minister” figures for Thatcher in 1977. She seems like the opposition leader in the position most analogous to Miliband’s.

  10. Anthony,

    A bit of a number crunchy question.

    It is fairly well known that the answer to which leader is doing best is highly influenced by party support. Tories are more likely to rate cameron well than Labour supporters etc.

    Has anyone compiled rating from people who don’t support any party or who don’t know how they will vote?

    It might difficult to get at as panels are made up based on how the electorate vote so I am not sure how many if any “No affiliations” are included in the average poll.

    I don’t know about others but I’d be interested to see just how the leaders are rated by “Neutrals”.


  11. I think it is far from certain we will have debates next time – particularly if UKIP continue to poll quite well. More than one party is likely to have an interest in preventing them.

  12. Lefty,

    Sorry missed you post which covers the same point.

    I’d be interested to see it graphed over time or even for Anthony to do a Thread taking a good look at the neutrals view of the parties and leaders.


  13. Spearmint.

    This is the nearest I can find.

    And the following gives some snapshots of particular traits as seen by the public

    h ttp://

    Somewhere on the Ipsos-Mori site, there are figures showing that as late as Nov 78, Tory voters by a significant margin would have preferred Ted Heath to the Blessed Margaret as leader.

  14. Lefty,

    I agree with you and I am not correcting you but to be clear the qualities of the leaders in terms of direct appeal to the Electorate maybe less significant than in previous GEs.

    (If both are not rated well intuitively the devil you know may be a slight advantage for DC).

    The quality of the leaders in terms of their party management, policy direction and general philosophy will of course make a difference.

    I along with many others have been pleasantly surprised at how well EM has done thus far and think this has more than compensated for DM having higher recoginition and therefore better numbers at the outset has he been elected leader.
    I also feel that the real test will come in the 12 months taking in both conferences and I hope they are not goaded in to too many policy statements before this years conference; although work must be ongoing behind the scenes.

    After that it is the final furlong and the beauty contest takes over with at least the Electorate wary of any Cleggmania type stuff.

    Little talk recently of LD withdrawal and switch to C&Sduring 2014 (after the last Queens Speech of the parliament perhaps) but I still think it is a possibility and it will affect the dynamics. I wish I knew how but it would be sure to be interesting.

  15. AW:

    Do we have comparable polling figures for Heath 65-67; MT in 1975-7 period; Kinnock in 84-86 period I guess….John Smith after 92? Prpobably not in a comparable form….my memory, as with so much else, fails me…

  16. Lefty,

    Thanks! It’s a shame all the historical figures start right before the election. 1979 especially was a weird year with speculation about an election ever since autumn 1978, so I’m not sure they’re comparable.

    Interesting figure for Cameron from 2007- proves it’s possible to grow from a rating of 17%, if only to the 33% he managed by the general election.

    Still, it’s probably not ideal to have that number dropping at this stage in the game. Although presumably Miliband will look more prepared for the premiership once he actually has a policy platform.

  17. John M

    I’m not aware of any data on these questions before the Ipso-Mori earliest data from 1977.

    For the record, in the campaign of 79, Thatcher and Callaghan started out neck-and-neck in the “Who would make best PM?” question. As the campaign wore on, Callaghan surged ahead of Thatcher.

    Best PM
    1 April 42 ——40
    8 April 47——-39
    16 April 45——37
    21 April 46——33
    26 April 50——31

  18. Lefty is that correct? Callaghan was much more popular as a leader but people still voted tory in 79? If I’m reading it right then that’s good for ed. A party can win despite their leader been less popular than the opposition’s leader.

  19. Paul

    Those are the data from the Ipsos-Mori archive.

  20. John – I am not aware of any Best PM figures from before the late 70s. I think there may (or may not!) be some leader approval/disapproval figures from Gallup from earlier years, but I’d have to go and look them up, they aren’t online.

  21. I don’t think enough is being made of the one other significant difference between this parliament and other comparable parliaments.

    Apart from the new dynamic that the Coalition itself has brought to polling and inter-parliamentary comparisons, the fact that we are now in a fixed-term parliament for the first time ever is highly beneficial to the main Opposition party.

    Labour now know when the election will be called; before now the Opposition would always have been second guessing the PM and in that sense would likely have to appear to be “more ready” at an earlier date and have policies at the ready just in case. The fixed date means that Labour have a clear target to aim at from a long way out, and the signs from EM are that he is very clear about this too and is thinking and planning very strategically.

    If this was like any previous parliament DC could be taunting EM repeatedly with the prospect of a snap election. For the first time ever the leader of the Opposition has the luxury of time on their side. Not for complacency but for a quiet and considered development, that before now would always have been dogged by an anxiety and nervousness of approach.

  22. Woodsman,

    Good point.

    Although with these polls I don’t know that anyone would take the threat of a snap election seriously from Cameron!

  23. Lefty is that correct? Callaghan was much more popular as a leader but people still voted tory in 79? If I’m reading it right then that’s good for ed. A party can win despite their leader been less popular than the opposition’s leader.

    -Absolutely correct.
    Mind you John Major was much more popular than the Tory Party (strictly speaking less unpopular) in 1997 and it didn’t work the other way round.

    Despite the Media’s obsession with personality when it comes to GE’s people tend to vote for the party not the person

  24. Callaghan was much more popular as a leader but people still voted tory in 79? If I’m reading it right then that’s good for Ed. A party can win despite their leader been less popular than the opposition’s leader.
    Yes but it’s not a good place to be.

    Everybody who meets Ed likes him; but he can’t sell himself to one voter at a time! Labour are not going to get mainstream media support. Labour have hired the Brit who ‘master minded’ President Obama’s alternative media campaign. He shot the Fox fox. Can he do the same for Ed M over the next two years?

  25. Very interesting thanks lefty. On the debates I think it will be difficult to exclude ukip if they keep up these poll ratings. This could be a problem for the Tories as they would like to compare telegenic Cameron with more awkward looking ed.

  26. Steve but I don’t think major was more popular than blair

  27. Amber ed can’t help his looks and personality.I think after Blair and Cameron people are sick of smooth politicians. I’m surprised all the red ed and other smear propaganda in the media has seemingly had little effect.

  28. UKIP are probably taking a small amount of support from Labour which is why they’re dipping below 40% in many recent polls.

  29. I predict some huge ‘event’ that will change the poll ratings beyond belief before May 2015

    Don’t ask me what it is but something will happen that will have a significant baring on the result.

    Who dares wins!
    (Nunquam non Paratus)

  30. I saw the editor of the Sun being interviewed about Thatcher’s deification and he made much of the fact that Labour’s lead had narrowed, I wonder if the SUN will be reversing their view now.

    I don’t think anyone seriously expects Labour to get 40% plus at the next GE, barring a total collapse of confidence in the Coalition, caused by Osborne’s resignation and declaring war on Cameron, that sort of thing. However as it’s reported Labour have settled on a plausible strategy of going for 35%, that is about right, they won’t get more than that, but then they probably don’t need to.

  31. Callaghan had an approval rating at least 15% higher than Thatcher’s in ’79, in fact I think he had the highest approval rating of any PM, including Thatcher, shame about his party at the time.

  32. David,
    I think you are broadly right but labour would be disappoined now with under 35%.
    Personally I would be content at between 35% and 37% hoping for the top of that range to probably have most seats.

    People say Labour should be doing better but that is only true against a yardstick of securing a clear OM in 2015. I think 35-36% considering how bad 2010 was would be a decent result and 37% good.

    BTW – applies to DC as well as securing even a narrow OM would have been an exceptional achievement

  33. I’ve been mulling over a couple of thoughts recently.

    Firstly, is the electoral mountain DC needs to climb to get a majority government. If labour did only achieve 35% in a GE, the conservatives would need something like 42%. Where will the Cons find these extra voters? Many people here have been talking about Lab needing policies now for the next GE. Surely its DC who needs a strategy.

    The second thought, which I think has relevance to the first, was that MT gave working and lower middle class voters a positive reason to vote conservative – share ownership, right to buy etc. (whatever the rights and wrongs of those policies). I can’t see what the current government has to offer to these voters except negative policies – anti-immigration, benefits cap etc.

    It is hard to see where a CON OM would come from unless there is a dramatic improvement in the economy.

  34. CS – I think you are right it is hard to see either of the big 2 securing an OM in 2015 but hung/balanced parliaments have been unusual in the UK in the past; could be all changing of course?

  35. If the LDs do badly in terms of seats as is currently looking likely, why are so many predicting it will be hung in 2015? Close, yes – but hung?

  36. I really don’t know how TV debates would work out for any party.

    Ed Miliband looks a bit weird, but is a strong speaker and could find quite a lot of sticks with which to beat Cameron and Clegg.

    Cameron presents well on TV but is one of those ‘slick’ politicians of whom voters have become distrustful.

    Clegg had his moment last time and due to the coalition can’t claim the position of the golden mean. Having said that, he’s still a good orator and could remind people why they didn’t vote Tory or Labour last time.

    Farage? It’s in his interests to keep out and present himself as above personality politics (even though he absolutely is not). Mainly because any populist rhetorical ability he has would come under attack on three fronts – things like the weird tax and NHS policies, racist councillors, the whole Down’s Syndrome debacle. It would destroy them politically.

    I don’t know whether the Tories see it that way. They seem scared to death of UKIP and might not want them to be seen. Similarly, Labour would worry that a poor UKIP performance would bring people back to the Tory fold.

    Plus there’s the issue of how you decide who can be in the debates. If you go by vote share last time, you’d have to have the Greens or the BNP on too.

  37. My last post was outrageously partisan – I retract – apologies AW.

  38. @ MrNameless

    Don’t you think Farage probably doesn’t realise he’d be taken apart – my guess is he will leap at the chance of any TV exposure. He has supreme self-confidence! Whether one thinks that is misplaced or not is a partisan matter.

  39. It didn’t hurt that Thatcher was middle class herself, either. Even if Cameron and Osborne do manage to find some policies to offer the aspirational Tories, I think they’ll struggle to persuade them that the offer is sincere. Between the general disaffection with politicians and the class stuff that got thrown up by last year’s budget, they have a real problem convincing people they’re on their side, even Tory voters. Hence the hemorrhaging to Ukip.

  40. The figures re Ed Miliband are bound to be of some concern for Labour strategists. However, in a sense they perhaps don’t matter quite as much as they at first seem to. People know that there isn’t going to be an election for another 2 years, and it’s what people think come 2015 which will really count.

  41. 1959-64: ” Mr.Wilson’s standing as leader of the Labour party in the Gallup poll never fell below 61%;the proportion approving of Sir Alec Douglas-Home never exceeded 48%” Butler/King British General Election of 1964.

    1964- 66: Wilson low of 48% in summer 1965, high of 66% winter 1965.Heath only became leader in mid 1965 and began slightly ahead of Wilson at 51%,declining thereafter to 40% at election.All Gallup,”popularity” as Butler/King 1966

    (On polls the above source also says ..” by 1966 polls had become fashinable..” and “Politicians,and everyone else, can easily be misled by the apparent findings of polls.” )

    1966-70 The Conservatives were ahead of Labour on quarterly averages from early 1967 onwards.Their leader,Heath,was behind Wilson (and hence his own party) almost throughout,only briefly moving ahead of Wilson in the last quarter of 1967.Butler/Pinto-Duschinsky 1970.

    Hope this will help in the absence of better from Anthony.

    My own conclusion on leaders is that whilst of course it would help if Labour had a wonderfully charismatic figure as leader it’s not actually all that important and couldn’t on its own give them victory.

  42. I’m sure that DC would agree to a TV debate at the next GE he is an accomplished speaker as is EM and the public will expect it.
    I think they would be pretty even between the two of them, however in a debate between GO and EB although GO comes over as rather arrogant and aloof, he does usually sound quite competent, however EB manages to appear, well rather odd to just about everybody other than his most ardent supporters, he is without doubt the weak link in Labours challenge.
    Infact I would go as far to say he could be the difference between EM being a success or just another Kinnock who incidently enjoyed a big lead in the polls two years before the 1992 GE which of course he managed to lose.
    Nobody should underestimate the power of the TV debate since the days when Kennedy beat Nixon to Cleggs very successful appearances which stopped a Tory win at the last GE, it’s easily possible for past polling to be stood on it’s head by a good showing on TV, the one thing for sure is that a significant number of voters will be making there minds up based on those debates and the personalities and looks of the contenders and not what past polls indicate, I’m not saying it’s fair, it’s just the way it is, I blame the x factor generation myself.

  43. @ Mark Johnson 17/4/13

    ” and so the labour lead is chipped away point by point”

    @Mark Johnson 18/4/13

    “I predict some huge ‘event’ that will change the poll ratings beyond belief before May 2015
    Don’t ask me what it is but something will happen that will have a significant baring on the result.”


  44. Every time i mention the TV debates, Graham leaps in with the opinion that there will not be any (joined by others this time).

    I cannot imagine how any party is going to stop this. It would be electoral suicide to attempt it. Can one imagine the headlines?

    Farage is the most likely to suffer in a TV debate. If I were the other three party spin doctors, I would demand his right to presence (‘only fair, we are not an arrogant party’), especially the EM representative. I would probably plead for one of the three debates (seat number reasoning, which is a normal BBC policy).

    So why?

    We now know that voters do not actually want to leave the EU (‘stay after renegotiation’ polls tell you all you, as spin doctor, need to know).

    Then we have the rest of the policy areas – oh dear!

    Yes, it will be a godsend to DC to have Farage in one of the debates and even better for EM. I won’t say anything about NC for fear of being accused of a partisan comment; let’s just say I believe he would benefit too.

  45. I don’t blame Conservative supporters deriving what succour they can from this clutch of polls, and the Ipsos/Mori data on Miliband will reinforce their conviction that he remains their strongest electoral card in May 2015. Cameron still leads the Ugly Contest, that’s true, but as many on this thread have already pointed out, his own personal approval ratings remain dire and, despite Miliband’s alleged woes, Labour enjoy an average VI lead of over 10% across the three polls. While the Labour vote has probably slipped a point or two over the last couple of months, the Tories are slowly but steadily sinking to the sort of levels (26-30%) that might tempt some of us to dust down and trot out that trusty old psephological cliché; meltdown!

  46. I agree with steve2 to a large extent. A lot of Labours growth was built on the foundation of both public and private debt. I don’t think either are desirable at high levels, but would agree private debt is probably worse.
    The problem with a comparitively big public sector, is that although it can support local and regional economies, it simply doesn’t deliver real growth or incremental tax revenue, it’s very much of the support kind, supporting local business etc. it’s clearly still a key part of the economy both for the services it provides, and the aforementioned support, but I don’t ever think it can be an engine of growth. For instance, it’s not what drives Germany’s dynamic economy for example.
    I think in 2010, we got to our biggest public sector size ever of 6.1 million people, or 53% of the economy. The conservatives were correct to say it was unbalanced.

  47. but yes, normal service resumed in the polling at the moment…

  48. @RICH

    “I think in 2010, we got to our biggest public sector size ever of 6.1 million people, or 53% of the economy. The conservatives were correct to say it was unbalanced. “

    6.1 million People out of what? 27-28 million employed people approximately 25% of the workforce is unbalanced?

    Don’t figure…

  49. There are about 29 nillion people in employment currently. Even allowing for that being higher than 2010, I refuse to accept that 6.1 million people are 53% of the economy.

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