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. The BCC! they might be a bit biased. I imagine that they are mainly Torys as it is the kind of organisation Torys would join like the Womens Institute.

    The BCC , if I recall correctly, said the introduction of minimum wage would cost a million job losses, then added over the year that raising it’s level would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs as would minimum holiday entitlement, protection from unfair dismissal, the working time directive, redundancy payments etc. etc.

    Methinks I detect a trend in their thinking and political affiliation!

  2. Morning everyone,

    Looking at the latest Yougov Sun Poll which continues the trend of Labour VI nudging down from its quite static 40% to 39% 38% and lower – BUT where are their vote going because while the Tories remain quite ‘solid’ at around 30% Labour keep on dropping a point – are there even more ‘don’t knows’ than usual?

  3. COUPER 2802

    @”The BCC! they might be a bit biased. I imagine that they are mainly Torys as it is the kind of organisation Torys would join like the Womens Institute.”

    Yeah-104,000 business members employing over 5,000,000 employees.

    Tories-every one.

    STEVE

    @”Methinks I detect a trend in their thinking and political affiliation!”

    Ditto

  4. The Womens’ Institute has just reported an increase in 2013 Q1 Jam Production. Knitwear output also rose unexpectedly.

    These Tory propagandists Eh !

  5. “Foreign Secretary William Hague will today reveal the first concrete demand for reform of the European Union ahead of an in-out referendum in 2017.
    In a hard-hitting speech, Mr Hague will call for national parliaments, such as the House of Commons, to be able to overrule legislation proposed by the European Commission if enough legislatures call for it to be thrown out.
    Mr Hague will say that the European Parliament has ‘failed’ to introduce democratic accountability to the EU.
    And he will argue that the time has come to return powers to elected politicians in nation states who are far more accountable to their voters than MEPs.”

    This is more like it. Await his (German) audience’s reaction.

  6. “The Government will unveil £15bn of new infrastructure spending next month, according to the Financial Times.

    The plans, which will be announced at approximately the same time as the spending review, are being drawn up as a way of challenging Labour over its policies for stimulating growth, the newspaper claims.”

    Politics Home.

    Getting on the front foot again-good.

  7. @Couper – the BCC are a business-led organisation so have an innate conservative (with a small ‘c;) bias, but they provide relatively unbiased predictive data; they were perfectly happy to publish forecasts predicting a shrinking economy in prior quarters. They do have an interest in talking up confidence, as that will encourage spending and assist their members, but their stats are pretty honest as far as I can tell.

    Regards the Lib Dems – I’m not sure why there is a tendency to talk theirs and NC’s prospects down so markedly on UKPR?

    They carry three burdens IMHO:
    1) Clegg’s perceived dishonesty
    2) The disappointment of left-leaning supporters that they went into coalition with the Tories;
    3) The loss of ‘none-of-the-above’ protest party status.

    The first will not go away, hostile press from both wings will see to that, but Clegg is still a damn good communicator; an election campaign will give him the best chance he’ll ever get to remind voters why so many warmed to him in 2010. His ratings won’t improve dramatically but they surely won’t get worse.

    The second is the LD’s best area to target – an election allows the gloves to come off and to trumpet what would have happened/ not happened if they had not been in coalition to rein the Tories back. Accepting that right wing voters think the LD’s reining back the Tories is part of the problem, but for these left-leaning ex-LDs this is a powerful list; just start with tax cuts for working people instead of abolishing Inheritance Tax for the privileged and go from there.
    “We stopped the Nasty Part being REALLY nasty, we can keep the main parties from going to extremes” is not a bad slogan to encourage tactical voting.
    Again, it won’t sway everyone, but it makes a case for some of those voters to come back, especially if there is clarity that LDs are happy to work with either party, Tory or Labour, in a future coalition.

    The third category I suspect are lost forever, to a combination of UKIP and Greens…

    I don’t expect to see LDs at 20% for many years, if ever, but I could see them trending up 3-5% from current levels in the last 6 months of Parliament and the campaign itself.

  8. @BIGFATRON

    I agree:

    If the LibDems are smart they can leak loads of cabinet discussions of mad swivelly eyed policies. It must be a gold mine. This can only really benefit Labour – scaring their voters and many non-swivellies to get out and vote and hinder the Tories.

    So actually if the LibDems do go that route happy days for EM.

  9. @BIGFATRON

    “We stopped the Nasty Part being REALLY nasty, we can keep the main parties from going to extremes” is not a bad slogan to encourage tactical voting.”

    IMO they wont be believed because I can think of examples (like NHS Reforms, ATOS checks & cut in Disability Allowance and Bedroom Tax to mention a few) of n..ty things that would not have been enacted without LD support.

    I wont be voting tactically and neither will all the ex LD people I know and couple of their children who will be first time voters next GE.

  10. I do not see Lab at 38 being a downward trend at all, if one looks at the series of polls (see above right). There has only been one 42 -most have ‘swivelled’ around 38 -40.

    Con has recovered ‘a bit’ from those 27s a week ago whereas UKIP is all over the place. LD is rock solid on its 10 -11.

    All the above comments refer to YouGov polling.

    I agree with many contributors here that, while we can be subjective about Leaders’ personalities, VI will only be marginally affected thereby. I do not subscribe to the Kinnock1992 ‘triumph’ theories; it has been proven that the polls were wrong to just that extent needed to keep Labour out. I believe polling methods have tightened up a lot since then.

  11. RodCrosby

    An interesting paper and hypothesis which probably has something going for it. But I fear that the authors have overplayed their hand somewhat in enthusiastically pushing this as a model.

    In academic writing, the giveaway is often in the small print. The very best researchers write in an utterly dispassionate, yet convincing style. Every word means exactly what it is meant to mean – no more, no less, no ambiguity. The second raters often use imprecise or poorly chosen language that betrays their biases. Consider from the paper that you linked to:
    “In 2001, Tony Blair’s highly respectable rating secured an easy re-election victory for his party.”

    “Secured” is the key word here. There is absolutely no proof whatsoever of the causal link required to validate the use of that word. Had they said, “correlated with”, that would have been an accurate statement that said no more or less than the data allowed. Instead, they give an insight into their biases. They expect the causality, therefore they see it.

    Take that as a base and other things fall into place. The treatment of the 45, 59 and 66 data result in gross outliers suddenly falling into the mainstream if the data set.

    As I say, I suspect that there is much in their approach. The idea that the PM acts as a lightning conductor for general public (dis)satisfaction is persuasive. But I’m far from convinced that the method offers a robust means of prediction.

  12. @ Colin

    Re the coalition getting on the front foot again with infrastructure spending and how this affects Labour. What I expect Labour will say, is that the coalition have wasted over 2 years and the lack of proper stimulus has led to greater borrowing, therefore more government debt.

    Any infrastructure spending takes many years to feed its way through the system. Unlikely that any positive effects to the economy will be experienced before May 2015. although I accept that politically, it is a good step for the coalition parties.

    In the meantime, there are so many other issues out there, making it very difficult to look at policies in isolation and predict any polling/electoral impacts. E.g the latest EU benefits issue, which may firm up UKIP polling, which as we know hurts the Tories more than other parties.

  13. @ Colin

    The FT article is more nuanced.

    Anyway, Labour could easily sidestep this trap (it’s not a policy announcement as the government has no intention of spending that money).

  14. I just thought of a good campaign poster for labour, a picture of David Cameron with some shadowy figures in the background, and the banner saying David’s eyes don’t swivel but he should watch his back. It might need some work

  15. RinN
    I know you meant it as a ‘funny’ but this tactic never works. Remember Blair’s evil eyes poster?

  16. @ RodCrosby

    LeftyLampton pointed out some of the weaknesses of the linked paper.

    Also from their construct the begging the question fallacy is quite obvious. Additionally, there is regression fallacy (though it was probably inevitable).

    There is no logical model provided why the data should behave as they found (there is also a random (?) sampling error). There is no description of the research design – was the original research question something different?

    The correlation argument is always problematic (number of pirates in the Caribbean has a strong negative correlation with global warming), but especially when there is no or only an arbitrary concept (alternative explanations are not analysed) because the correlation suddenly could stop (cf outliers). Just as it happened one day in 1929 with the correlation between share prices and atmospheric pressure.

  17. @ RodCrosby

    LeftyLampton pointed out the most important weaknesses of the linked paper.

    From their construct the begging the question fallacy is quite obvious. Additionally, there is regression fallacy (though it was probably inevitable).

    There is no logical model provided why the data should behave as they found (there is also a random (?) sampling error). There is no description of the research design – was the original research question something different?

    The correlation argument is always problematic (number of pirates in the Caribbean has a strong negative correlation with global warming), but especially when there is no or only an arbitrary concept (alternative explanations are not analysed) because the correlation suddenly could stop (cf outliers). Just as it happened one day in 1929 with the correlation between share prices and atmospheric pressure.

  18. Richard,

    You could do cardboard characatures of Tories for cars with those stick on wobbly eyes you get for kids toys!

    I’d but a swivel eyed Tory for mine.

    Peter.

  19. Sorry for the double posting.

    If EM is disadvantaged by the press (he is), then the campaign should be designed for TV (maybe radio). It would require a careful design as these media don’t like boring things, they need things they can summarise in 50 seconds but also can go on for 9-10 minutes. There should be only one event a day, because then they cannot choose the more controversial, weaker, accident laden one.

  20. I can’t see how the Tories can win because Labour just have to keep saying:

    1. Trust – the Tories and Lib Dems can’t be trusted because of tuition fee rises and billions wasted in NHS changes.

    2. Competence – the omni-shambles. The Tories being split.

    3. Fairness – disability allowance, bedroom tax, gay marriage, and tax cuts for the wealthiest.

    4. Environment – building on the countryside and wanting to sell-off forests.

    5. Personal Wealth – rising food and energy prices, most people will be feeling worse-off.

  21. @LIZH
    Obviously your personal experience is your own, and I can’t comment on that.
    My point is that LDs have not been able, due to the coalition agreement, go big on those proposals which they have stopped – all people have heard about so far are those that have gone through.
    Top rate of tax to 40%, Inheritance Tax being abolished, far harsher crackdowns on benefits, rejecting Climate science, an immediate referendum on Europe without trying to secure improvements, wholesale NHS privatisation – lots of things they can point to that have been prevented by their intervention. They can go large on this in a campaign, which they can’t now, and some people (not the majority I agree) will probably respond.

  22. Colin

    It’s always a laugh when left wingers discribe the BBC as being pro Tory.

    I can never figure if thats a genuine belief or they say that in the knowledge that it’s full of left wing luvvies who would never really let Labour have a bad press and will always take every oppurtunity to down play every other political party especially those nasty Tories.

    I see the BBC as the Gaurdian newspaper of the television world and Sky News as the Sun .

  23. On unrelated matters, the Times is reporting that Patrick Mercer, the MP for Newark has resigned the Tory whip.

  24. ‘We stopped the Nasty Part being REALLY nasty’

    An obvious response to that might be ‘Why did you keep them in office for five years when you could have forced another election after 18 months?’


  25. see the BBC as the Gaurdian newspaper of the television world and Sky News as the Sun .”

    It always amuses me when people say that.

    [It doesn’t really but one has to join in I s’pose]

    Colin:

    What’s happened to the daily updates on the French economy?? Sacre bleu mon ami, tu est, ‘ow you say – slackeeeng.

  26. The telegraph is reporting that Mr Mercer is resigning over a lobbying scandal that the DT has been investigating. If the DT are opening that can of worms then it’s going to be open season on the govt, there are too many lobbying skeletons in the cupboard

  27. SqueezedMiddle:

    Let’s try to counter that…

    Economy: Labour clearly can’t be trusted on the economy. The last two Labour governments didn’t just ‘perform badly’ but they actually bankrupted the country. Labour’s mismanagement led to public and private debt ballooning to unsustainable levels in a series of economic bubbles.

    “Tory tax cuts for the wealthiest.”: Reversing a tax increase Labour only introduced in their very last budget. If it was so important, why not introduce it sooner during the prolonged boom instead of at the start of their financial crash.

    “End to Tory boom and bust”.. Remember that Labour boast?

    Taxes: Labour introduced a myriad of complex taxes that squeezed all income classes and also added complex bureaucracy and costs for business. Labour only sees the private sector as a ‘cash cow’ instead of something to be protected and encouraged.

    Employment: Labour claimed to have increased employment but the majority of the new jobs were actually in the public sector.

    Welfare: Labour turned social security into a ‘lifestyle option’ instead of the safety net it is meant to be.

    Defence: Took the UK into two wars that were riddled with disastrous Labour political interference and mismanagement.

    That’s off the top of my head and were the reasons I stopped voting Labour,

  28. @bigfatron

    That’s the same argument I see on LDV quite a lot, it is not going to work…

    The LDs are in government, the LDs are part of the government they have to take responsibility for being in government, and the LDs cannot cherry pick the bits of government policy they hold their hands up to…

    LDs cannot shout or proclaim on one hand that our policies in government are these, then shout we did not have anything to do with those the Conservatives wanted… you have to accept collective responsibility in coalition, isn’t that what grownups do (LDs own words I believe).

    So to put it bluntly when LDs said to the left we don’t need you, we don’t want you, we definitely don’t believe you. So go away… that’s what happened… you don’t believe me go read the archives on LDV its all there…

    and I don’t think they are coming back…

  29. [contd]

    The RNs new aircraft carriers – a procurement project so poorly managed that it was cheaper to build an unstarted second aircraft carrier than not.

    Add in the massive ‘off the books’ PPP projects that were also disastrously administered, providing very poor value for money for the tax payer.

  30. Turk: The BBC isn’t pro-Tory, but I think it’s very possible to argue it has a status quo bias. So centrist Labour and wet Tories tend to be alright with it, the Labour left or left-of-Labour and the Tory right tend to see it as biased towards whichever the other side of the political spectrum is. In general I think the corporation actually does pretty well at political balance, certainly compared to pretty much the whole rest of the news media.

    Re Mercer: a bit of a blow to DC but not too much unless Panorama have any real shocks to report. If he ends up being forced to resign his seat or anything we could get an interesting by-election, fairly “natural” Tory area but Lab had it in 1997.

  31. @Steve2

    I feel for you….if you really believe what you posted

    But it is the wrong forum for such a debate… so will keep quiet

  32. @TOJIM

    I agree 100%. We are not going back.

  33. Tojim: I think one can underestimate the remaining Lib Dem left, it does include quite a lot of their actual MPs. Furthermore you get people like me who are economically left wing but still very much mistrust Labour on science, drugs policy, civil liberties, evidence-based policy, and constitutional issues. So there are still a number of Lib Dem MPs or candidates I’d happily support, local effects may be quite crucial in this.

  34. Graham : ‘We stopped the Nasty Part being REALLY nasty’

    An obvious response to that might be ‘Why did you keep them in office for five years when you could have forced another election after 18 months?’

    Hughes recently retorted to that retort by saying the Tories would probably have won a working majority.

  35. Tojim and LizH, your inherent and partisan denial is not really a viable response to all that, is it.

    But, as you say, not the forum. (I was responding to SqueezedMiddle….who clearly has a short memory going by his user name)

  36. Steve2
    ‘Hughes recently retorted to that retort by saying the Tories would probably have won a working majority.’

    That is contradicted by what the polls were saying in Autumn 2011.

  37. @James Baillie

    Mercer’s resignation could potentially be a disaster for the Conservatives. Here is the nightmare scenario:

    1) The allegations turn out to be so bad that Mercer is forced to resign as an MP.

    2) Labour manage to pull off a 16+% swing in Newark to take the seat. (They managed 12% in Corby. 16% is not out of reach if there’s a scandal in play – although Huhne didn’t do the Lib Dems too much harm in Eastleigh.)

    3) The Conservatives go into even bigger panic mode than they are already.

    And worst of all, all of these steps are plausible.

    It’s probable (as in over 50%) that this Panorama episode will not be the tipping point that spells the beginning on the end. But it might. All eyes on this broadcast, I think.

  38. @Steve2

    partisan denial… smiles only one of us…

    and after posting tit for tat I am partisan…really lol

  39. Chris Neville smith

    It’s worse than that, the whole Parliament is riddled with corruption due to lobbying, if the papers have decided to go after one lobbying scandal you can bet that they will easily find others , of course I’m a bit strict about such things, by my reckoning there were fewer than 100 mps that weren’t ineligible to vote on the nhs bill , and the minister who presented the bill was also not eligible to vote on it because of conflict of interests

  40. Graun: The five biggest internet companies in the world, including Google and Facebook, have privately delivered a thinly veiled warning to the home secretary, Theresa May, that they will not voluntarily co-operate with the “snooper’s charter”.
    ——————-
    In this instance the ‘thin end of the wedge’ assertion bears consideration. The main internet providers say that British ‘snooper’ legislation will be implemented – & expanded on – by other countries around the world. Not all countries would use their version of the legislation ‘responsibly’.

    The main providers also say that it would be incredibly expensive to do what Theresa May is asking for. Could this lead to charges for e-mail? That would be very unpopular with most individuals, I’d think. Anthony, do you have a YG ‘commerce’ colleague who can tell us: has YG ever polled about e-mail charging?

  41. Newark would not be a by-election Labour would want if it were it to happen. They have the edge over the Lib Dems so not going to get a collapsed vote but with such a high Tory vote (generally around 50%) you can see another good result for UKIP.

  42. Poster campaigns that try to demonise a target will not work….

    But a complete rerun of the tuition pledge posters would work very well, no alteration identical copies to the originals just popping up, would do the job….

  43. Anthony,
    Re Newark. Can I take it that a series of boundary changes over the past 30 years mean that the seat does not bear comparison with that held for Labour by Ted Bishop for many years until 1979?

  44. @Anthony W

    “On unrelated matters, the Times is reporting that Patrick Mercer, the MP for Newark has resigned the Tory whip.”

    Looks like he’s got implicated in some lobbying scandal and is jumping before he’s pushed. BBC’s Panorama will shortly be airing a programme about what he’s alleged to have done and I expect he’s weighed up the pros and cons and decided that discretion will be the better part of valour. Sleaze rears it’s ugly head in the Tory Party again just as some of their most loyal supporters were thinking that the Government was getting on the front foot again. This is all seeming very Major-esque to me. One step forward, two back and, no matter what, an administration that never seems to be able to escape the enveloping political quagmire.

    As a matter of interest, wasn’t Mercer the Tory MP who was overheard saying some very uncomplimentary things about Cameron at some private function a while back? Didn’t he describe our PM as’a despicable creature’ and ‘the worst politician in British history since William Gladstone’?

    I don’t think Cameron will spend much time begging him to reconsider his resignation, do you? lol

  45. Some of Mercer’s recent activity has been hilariously damning:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/05/31/is-this-what-forced-tory-mp-patrick-mercer-to-resign/

    What’s also interesting is the other names on his EDM. You have to wonder about their motivations. Names include Mike Hancock and Alan Meale, both of whom have somewhat checkered records, themselves.

  46. Graham – yep, very different seat. Back then it used to go west and include much of the current Sherwood seat instead of the northern parts of the current Newark seat.

  47. Ok, I know this is a Voodoo Poll, run online by a newspaper (and it seems there was no checking to see if only eligible residents took part), but there is a poll for the by-election in Aberdeen Donside.

    SNP 35.7%
    Con 11.9%
    Lab 10.3%
    Ukip 8.7%
    Lib Den 4.8%

    presumably the other 28.6% dont know…

  48. What IS quite amusing is the number of posters who post something personal and partisan and try to cloak it with “but this is not the place” as though that negates what they have just written.

    Personally I think the government is doomed but this is not the place to say so, so I won’t. My puppy gurls think the same but they couldn’t care less where they say it.

    They do like Dave though.

  49. @STEVE2

    “Employment: Labour claimed to have increased employment but the majority of the new jobs were actually in the public sector.”

    So not real jobs then, eh?

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