The Times this morning has some intriguing YouGov results on Ed Miliband. Taking the simplest bit first, Yougov asked if people thought Ed Miliband was a better or worse leader than Gordon Brown, and a better or worse leader than Tony Blair. Miliband was seen as better than Brown by 32% to 17%, and worse than Blair by 41% to 20%.

All straightforward so far. However, YouGov also repeated a bank of questions asking about Ed Miliband’s qualities that had previously been asked about Gordon Brown in May 2010, immediately after the general election. Miliband got higher don’t knows than Brown for obvious reasons, but looking at net figures Miliband had better ratings than Brown on being in touch and being honest, but worse (in some cases MUCH worse) on being a strong leader, on being decisive, on having a sense of purpose, on caring about ordinary people and on trying to do the right thing. So people think Ed Miliband is a better leader… but also give him worse ratings than they gave Brown?

It’s interesting to ponder the apparent contradiction – there are several possible explanations. One is that the Gordon Brown polling was done right at the very end of his premiership, and his personal ratings increased during 2010 so these figures are how Brown was seen at a comparatively positive point, not Brown when his ratings were at their worst. It’s possible that the “folk memory” of Gordon Brown that people are comparing Miliband to is Brown at his lowest point, or an image of Brown that is actually much worse than the reality at the time.

There is also a question of people’s changing perceptions towards an incumbent party leader – in many ways the “right” answer for a Labour supporter in May 2010 was to give Brown a positive rating, while the “right” answer now is for them to say Miliband is an even better leader. That’s not to say people are somehow not giving their genuine opinions – I am sure they are. It’s just, if you are a Labour supporter you are going to see the party’s leader in a positive light, overlook his weaknesses, notice his strengths. Labour supporters in May 2010 would have seen Gordon Brown in a positive light, now Ed Miliband is leader they’ll note his strengths and perhaps take a more neutral view of Brown. In just the same way Conservative supporters in 2002 told pollsters that Iain Duncan Smith was a good leader… and I’m sure if asked today would recognise that, when all is said and done, he was a bit of a duffer as leader.

While we are here, we should stop to look at the figures in their own right, whatever people thought about Gordon Brown, they are also a chance to see how people see Ed Miliband as a politician in his own right. Looking at them that way, Ed Miliband’s most positive rating by far is on honesty – 39% think he is honest, compared to only 24% dishonest. His ratings are also comparably good on “trying to do the right thing” (39% v 41% serving his own interests) and caring about ordinary people (36% v 42% caring about only a select few). He scores much more negatively on being dithering (57% v 19% who think he is decisive), weak (56% v 19% who see him as strong) and being unclear what he stands for (53% v 27% who think he has a clear sense of purpose).

I’ll end up with by my normal summary about the Ed Miliband question, since it’s always a subject that provokes a lot of discussion and some very entrenched views – I invariably see Labour supporters wedded to the idea that Miliband’s ratings will be irrelevant come the election, and Conservative supporters convinced that it would be impossible for Labour to win under Miliband.

Suffice to say, Miliband’s ratings are bad, and are bad compared to past opposition leaders. It seems likely that he is having a negative effect on Labour support. HOWEVER, Labour are ahead in the polls, and have a lead that would give them a comfortable overall majority at an election, so the idea that they cannot win with Ed Miliband is clearly false. Right now, people are telling pollsters that they will vote Labour regardless of Ed Miliband’s negative ratings. The question is whether or not those negative opinions of Miliband (assuming they don’t change) will play more of a role in influencing people’s voting intention as the general election gets closer and voting intention becomes more of a choice between alternate government as an anti-government statement. Current polling cannot answer that question – and the key to interpreting polls is often as much about recognising what they can’t tell you as what they can.

317 Responses to “YouGov/Times poll on Ed Miliband”

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  1. @Leftylampton

    You seem to have a real problem with wealth. What is wrong with being wealthy, I cannot see a problem at all unless the wealth was gained illegally.

  2. Toh

    Or immorally?

    Being wealthy is not a problem, it is how it was gained that can be an issue. Also, the notion that wealth is a measure of value- not necessarily the case

  3. As factors on susceptibility I suppose it might be worth looking at both majority and longevity.

    Might it be that people who had been in Westminster a long time get sucked in by the “well everyone else is doing it” and that people in safe seats who were popular began to think they were there above challenge.

    The two factors might have created a sense of entitlement.

    I wonder what the length of incumbency or majority for miscreants was compared to the average.

    Add that to my post above, so that it was number of MP’s, MP’s wealth, majority and years in Westminster and we might be on our way to creating a “Sleaze Predictor”

    Having said that would we really want people printing lists of politicians expected to succumb? Prediction or not I think that would be grossly unfair.

    It’s all very well to speculate at reasons but beware the law of un intended consequences.


  4. @Rich

    “We need to get back to rationale debate”

    In the world of partisan political opinion? Best of luck.

  5. I am being impartial!


  6. TOH

    Go on, I’ll bite. Where on earth in anything I have ever posted on here do you find evidence to support that conclusion?

  7. Lefty – please don’t bite!

    Everyone, this is downright silly, stop it now.

  8. More on the Fiji story:

    It seems MPs from the three main parties are involved in the APPG, but none shown to have taken money.
    IMO the most shocking quote in the article was:
    “I must have thought it was a good idea at the time,” Mr Hancock [LD MP] said. “I remember speaking to some Fijian soldiers and they were unhappy with the situation.”
    Is this the level of analysis and decision making we can expect from MPs?
    I despair

  9. AW

    Point taken. I’ve just taken my teeth back out.

  10. Cloudspotter

    Thanks for the link I’m not suprised Vaz’s name is mentioned he’s sailed closer to the wind than Mercer ever did.

    We could be back tp plague on all your houses no wonder Ukip are on the rise.

  11. @ Cloud Spotter

    What did you expect? Most MPs understanding of issues is about your local car dealer – irrespective of the party. I read enough Hansard to know this. There are some refreshing ones though, but they don’t make good articles, so you have to read Hansard to know of them.

  12. @ The Mercer Affair

    Tribalism is fascinating. But at the same time, paradoxically, boring.

    I suggest, if Anthony is permitting, if someone wants to condemn or excuse his action, he or she relates it to something that can be experienced in everyday life (or alternatively how the press presents it as a phenomenon) and hence effecting to any degree VI)?

  13. Laszlo
    Your so right having watch the defence committee the other day asking questions on defence spending the Mp’s lack of knowledge on defence issues were laughable.
    One of them thought the new carriers had remote controlled planes, another didn’t know how many destroyers the Navy had (6).

    Now I know the general public might be unsure of those questions,but if you’ve wangled a job on the defence commitee and your holding the MOD to account on spending issues you’d think thay might have done some basic research so thay had some grasp on defence budgets.

  14. @Turk

    Technically, the UK does have remote control planes. Carrier-based? Doubt it.

  15. turk

    “that doesn’t make it a criminal act or does it.”

    Jolly good point. Or was it.

  16. Anthony

    “Everyone, this is downright silly, stop it now.”

    Actually if you belt through it without reading anything its not too bad.

  17. @paulcroft lol

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