This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up online here. Topline voting intention is CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%
The leaders approval ratings are minus 20 for Cameron (from minus 17 last week), minus 34 for Miliband (from minus 31 last week) and minus 51 for Clegg (from minus 49). On the regular economic trackers optimism continues to creep upwards – the feel good factor (those thinking things will get better minus those who think things will get worse) is now minus 26, now the best (or least worst) figure since April 2010.
Much of the rest of the poll dealt with Ed Miliband and the Trade Unions. Most of Ed Miliband’s ratings remain poor, and if anything are getting worse rather than improving. Only 20% think he would be up to the job of Prime Minister (down from 25% in May). Only 18% think he has provided an effective opposition to the government. Only 10% think he is a strong leader, 47% a weak leader (even amongst Labour voters only 22% think he is strong, 26% weak).
I’ve written about Ed Miliband’s poor polling figures here several times before, so won’t repeat the same discussion at length. The short version is that yes, they are pretty bad… but Labour have a lead in the polls despite Miliband’s poor figures. The question, which cannot currently be answered, is whether they’ll matter more as we get closer to an election and people’s choice is (perhaps) as much about a choice between alternate governments as a verdict on the incumbent.
29% of people think that Ed Miliband has been too close to the Unions, 13% too distant and 22% about right. 36% say don’t know. Despite all the coverage of Falkirk, the Unite row and Tom Watson’s resignation (which happened just before fieldwork started), this is almost unchanged from when YouGov asked the same question last month, suggesting that in terms of if Labour are seen as close to the Unions the row has has not made any real difference yet. Of course, that’s not just what it’s about – the Conservatives are very clearly using it to try and make Miliband look weak. Depending on what does happen it is both a risk and opportunity for Miliband. Depending on the action he takes he could end up looking weaker… or stronger.
Looking more specifically at Labour’s links to the Trade Unions, 26% think they are good thing (including a narrow majority – 53% – of Labour voters), 35% think they are a bad thing (though this only includes 9% of Labour voters). 41% of people think the unions have a lot of influence in Labour, and this is mainly seen as a bad thing (35% bad, 6% good). 33% think they do not have much influence (21% think that’s a good thing, 12% a bad thing). By 46% to 27% people take a negative view of the amount of funding Labour receives from the Unions, and by 42% to 32% people think it is unacceptable for Labour MPs to be sponsored by Unions. Once again, Labour voters take a more supportive stance – 56% think there is nothing wrong with Labour’s funding from the Unions, 60% think it is acceptable for MPs to be sponsored by Trade Unions.
Is that any different to the way funding from businesses or rich individuals would be viewed? No, probably not. Polling last year found opinions of Labour’s relationship with donors was much the same as opinions about the Conservatives, and views about a cap on donations from unions was much the same as views about a cap on donations from business.