The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up on the website here, topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%. Tabs are here

A large part of the poll covered perceptions of Ed Miliband, something that we’ve seen in other polls lately and seen covered a lot in the media. There is nothing particularly new in the Ed Miliband figures in this poll – a majority (51%) think he’s weak leader, 56% think he’s out of touch with ordinary people, 60% think he wouldn’t be up to the job of PM. Nothing here we didn’t already know, though they are still worth asking to see if opinion changes. At this point though I doubt they will unless Ed Miliband actually becomes Prime Minister. Once the public have taken against a politician, whether that perception is fair or unfair, it’s mighty hard for them to shift(the exception tends to be when they actually become PM, then people can see them in a new light.)

The Ed Miliband paradox is something I’ve come back to several times here, partly because it’s one of those things that I think has the potential to make a difference at the next election, partly because I see such partisan idiocy written about it. I see some people writing about it as if a popular or unpopular leader is the utter be-all and end-all of politics, a guarantee or victory or defeat, and see others writing as if it’s a total irrelevance. Both are utter nonsense.

I wrote about it at length here and while the figures have changed, the essential situation hasn’t, in summary:

  • People’s perceptions of party leaders ARE an important factor, the key driver analysis of British Election Study data at recent elections demonstrates it, some respondents will consciously say it is that a primary concern, many others it will be a factor in the mix. It would be almost perverse if the main public face of a party and its policies and principles was not a factor.
  • But it is by no means the ONLY factor. Perceptions of party competence on the issues people consider important are of critical importance, so are party identities. By extension (since they drive those factors) government performance and wider perceptions of the parties and their values are also extremely important. Hence it is perfectly possible for a party with a duff leader to win if it is outweighed by other factors like competence and party identity. Thatcher won in 1979 despite trailing badly to Jim Callaghan, presumably because other factors outweighed the minus of her leadership.
  • Labour have been in the lead in the polls for a couple of years, despite the public being well aware of Ed Miliband and having a negative view of him. That does NOT mean that he is not a drag on Labour’s support (we don’t how whether Labour’s lead would be larger under a different leader), but it does mean that his negative ratings are already “priced into the market”.
  • The questions is whether the importance of the opposition leader grows in the immediate run up to an election. There is the potential for people’s opinions to be driven mainly by unhappiness and disapproval of the government mid-term, but to view it increasingly as a choice between two alternative governments and Prime Ministers as the election actually approaches (thus contributing to the familiar pattern of “mid term blues”). That brings the potential for the “Miliband issue” to matter more as we get closer and closer to the election… but it is impossible to reliably test.
  • In short – are Miliband’s ratings bad? Yes. Is it damaging Labour? Probably. Is it preventing Labour being ahead in the polls? No – even if it is a factor, others are outweighing it. Will it increase in importance come the actual election? We can’t tell.

Anyway, looking at the rest of the poll, since we touched on party image and competence as other big issues further up, YouGov re-asked a question from last February essentially exploring the contrast between parties being “nice” and being “effective”. They asked if parties were seen as “nice but dim”, “mean but smart”, “mean and dim” or “nice and smart”. The Conservatives clearly still have “nasty party” issues – 40% think they are smart, but only 26% think they are nice. For Labour it’s the other way around “their heart is in the right place, but…”; 48% think they are nice, but only 20% think they are smart. It might get less attention than Miliband, but right there you’ve got two big issues for the two main parties: people still don’t think the Tories’ hearts are in the right place, and still doubt Labour’s competence in government.

The poll also had a batch of questions about education in England – essentially showing appetite for reform in general, but opposition to the specifics of Michael Gove’s reforms. 43% think schools are doing well, 46% badly and people tend to think they provide worse education than in comparable European countries. 64% think schools need reforming to a large or moderate degree. Asked about Michael Gove though 55% think he’s doing badly as education secretary, people are opposed by 41% to 31% to schools becoming academies and by 53% to 23% to the idea of free schools.


197 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 38, LD 8, UKIP 14”

1 2 3 4
  1. The question I’m waiting for at least one reputable pollster to ask of Labour voters is – “even if you don’t like Ed M will you still be voting Labour anyway?” and for non-Labour voters – “is there any other leader who could make you seriously consider voting Labour?”

    If the answer to the first question is overwhelmingly “Yes” and to the second question an overwhelming “No” ( and I suspect it is ) then all this anti-Ed M nonsense in the Grauniad, the BBC and the usual suspects in the right-wing media is a total red herring!

    Also the one group of voters who are relatively positive towards Ed M are the 2010 Lib Dem defectors to Labour – I would argue the single most important segment of the electorate at GE2015.

  2. I am perplexed by the anti-Ed operation the Guardian is currently running. What’s in it for them? Alienating large sections of their left-leaning leadership?

    There have been literally dozens of hostile articles in the Guardian – extremely shoddy ‘an unnamed source claims…’ type nonsense. They’re worse than the Sun or Mail, which takes some doing.

    Past history tells though, that these kind of purile personal attacks often backfire and are frequently counter-productive. It’s basic psychology – people like to root for an underdog, and the press is hardly bathed in glory at the moment, so while they can to a degree set an agenda, it isn’t translating to shifts in VI.

    Brown received a small poll bounce when the Sun launched personal attacks about his handwriting to a dead soldiers mother. Ed also performs very well in ‘town hall’ style debates/meetings with members of the public, so the format of the debates plays to his strength in that regard.

    Of course I fully expect Cameron to do everything possible to avoid the debates, but if Labour can maintain a small poll lead going into them, I’d suggest they are home and dry.

  3. I appreciate the lack of “Ed is carp” posts on here these days. Might we see a similar lack of “Ed is brill”/”people who criticise Ed are carp” posts?

  4. “Defiant Shia on the march”

    This headline sounds great until you learn they are prancing around the streets of Bagdad and not actually heading off anywhere to fight ISIS.

  5. @Dr Mibbles

    The G******n has history here. It’s always been a cosmopolitan paper that is at heart more liberal than leftist. It only looks leftist compared to the rest of our erstwhile Fourth Estate.

    Ed has come under these kind of sustained assaults before, such as in early 2012 & summer 2013 and survived because the people attacking him are just a tiny yet extremely loud minority, and also because there is no plausible rival to him.

  6. SPEARMINT

    @ Allan,

    Ed Miliband”s former speechwriter defects to Tories

    “Result! Now Cameron can start babbling on about predistribution and Miliband can start speaking in English. Number 10, here we come!”
    _________

    I never thought of it in that way. Thanks for trashing my comment. ;-)

  7. YouGov do occasionally have a question after normal VI where they ask how people would vote at the General Election with the current (named) Party leaders in charge[1]. This normally depresses Labour’s vote a little as some of their voters move into Don’t Know, but they don’t seem to switch outright and it’s not normally a significant change.[2] The big loser was normally the Lib Dems being reminded of Clegg.

    With regard to the latest YouGov, there has been much delight in the usual quarters over the fact that only 14% said that Miliband “looks and sounds like a possible Prime Minister” (and some of these say he hasn’t the right policies) – see p5 of tables. However the question asked people to choose between the four combination of Miliband having the right/wrong policies and appearing/not PM-ish. 37% said he had the right policies.

    But unusually, among the statutory reams of “How Crap is Ed” questions, the same thing was asked about Cameron. Only 32% said he had the right policies. Mind you 56% said he “looks and sounds like a Prime Minister”. Which is not surprising, what with him being one.

    Fascinatingly the responses to these questions has changed very little since they were last asked nearly two years ago, despite the continuous chanting of the holy Ediscrap mantra by the overwhelming mass of the Media. Back then the Labour VI was higher, but the 5-6 points or so they have lost have not gone to the Conservatives, but to UKIP, Greens and SNP. This suggests that tacking to the Right may not be a good idea if Labour wants to get these people back. Paradoxically this is probably true for the defectors to UKIP too. To attract them, Labour needs to sound less Establishment and mimicking the Tories is hardly the way to do that.

    [1] This is usually to give them a base line to see what the change is when one of the leaders is replaced with a different named individual – probably Cameron with Boris.

    [2] There’s also the usual problem with hypothetical questions that people may say something would change their future actions when it actually wouldn’t but they would still prefer to see that change.

  8. R&D

    “Defiant Shia on the march”

    “This headline sounds great until you learn they are prancing around the streets of Bagdad and not actually heading off anywhere to fight ISIS”
    ___________

    Aye and all that slipper slapping in they dusty streets is wreaking havoc with local aviation.

  9. Ed M’s former speechwriter, Phil Taylor, has defected to the LD’s, not the Cons.

    He was Chair of Liberal Democrat Youth & Students in 1995 so it might be said that he has merely returned to his spiritual home.

    Cllr Rob Appleyard, Bath and North East Somerset, is the one that has joined the LD’s after failing to be re-selected by Labour.

  10. 2 points,

    Would any other possible Labour leader have better ratings.
    His sibling is often sited but I think I am not alone in believing that he would have struggled to keep the party united as much as Ed; and , secondly once LOO the Press would have started on him and I suspect by now unnamed senior front benchers would have appearing as much in media as they are re Ed.

    What I have never seen is a score for the various leaders which can test what CB alludes to. DC may merely be less unfavourably viewed by many respondents but if it was for eample 4/10 v 3/10 the impact on VI is minimal.

    Finally – Can we glean from the tables what 2010 LDs now saying Lab think of Ed as imo Lab keeping these up to polling day is the most importantt factor in the GE.

  11. @ Paul A

    “Also the one group of voters who are relatively positive towards Ed M are the 2010 Lib Dem defectors to Labour – I would argue the single most important segment of the electorate at GE2015.”

    Exactly. I am one of those. I will be voting Labour partly BECAUSE Ed M is the leader, rather than his brother or another. It is true he doesn’t fit the “slimy smoothy” image that nowadays seems to be regarded as a prerequisite for party leaders – he is a quiet long term strategic thinker who doesn’t always get his image right in the snap of the moment situations. It remains to be seen if folk warm to him as he has the chance to lay out his stall in the run up to polling day come the GE.

  12. @Tony Dean & Paul A

    I am another 2010 LD voter who defected to Labour. EdM has impressed me immensely so far with his cool headed long term strategical decisions. He is definitely steering us towards the new kind of politics I was looking for which Clegg promised but failed to deliver.

  13. Alright let’s tone it down a bit before AW’s scissors start their work – love from another Red Dem.

  14. Paul A – sorry missed yours as forgot to move to page 2 when scrolling through.

  15. @ LizH

    Yes Liz, I agree absolutely. Where he differs from all previous Labour leaders (except perhaps Attlee) is that he really does seem to offer something new rather than just a Wilsononian type tinker with the establishment as it is! In addition a committment to some fundamental constitutional reforms too would in my opinion clinch the 2010 LD voters for certain for Labour.

  16. I meant Wilsonian – Wilsononion is an “onion” too far! Sorry!

  17. JIM JAM

    This morning’s You Gov provides a possible example of direct comparison.

    If you look at the answers to the Question on P5, and concentrate on “looks & sounds / does not look & sound like a PM” -ie ignoring preference to do with policy ; you get :-

    Does Look & Sound:-
    EM 14
    DC 56

    Does Not Look & Sound :-
    EM 70
    DC 31

    Net :-
    EM Does not Look & Sound 56
    DC Does Look & sound 25

  18. I think Miliband, and his team, have made some pretty poor decisions regarding presentation but I do wonder if there is something slightly more sinister in the focus on him being ‘weird’ or generally odd-looking. There were people (I met some of them) who openly opposed Kinnock because he was Welsh and the focus on Gordon Brown’s ‘dour’ personality often seemed a proxy for the fact that he was Scottish (I know about Blair but he seemed very English to most people). Now the attacks on Miliband, particularly taken with the Mail attack on his father, seem to be very much about him being ‘different’. Don’t want to think it’s true but it could be.

  19. In all seriousness, the trivialisation of politics and focus on image drives me bananas.

    I had avoided ‘the bacon sandwich’ story up to today, but I have just looked it up.

    For a reputable newspaper (The Independent) to have this headline:

    Ed Miliband fails to look normal while eating bacon sandwich ahead of campaign tour

    They actually published this text:

    The first challenge, however, came in the form of a bacon sandwich – that staple for any politician wanting to look like he fits in.

    The assembled photographers quickly took an interest after it became apparent that the mound of oozing ketchup and grease could not be tackled elegantly.

    After no more than a few bites the leader’s advisors had to intervene, and the offending food item was entrusted to shadow cabinet member Lord Wood, the Evening Standard reported.

    What a whole load of steaming baloney.

    Given the serious decisions required on health, education, public spending, energy etc etc, I would like analysis and debate on policy.

    The journalists who provided the above copy, well I wouldn’t pay them in washers.

    Of course, there is chance that I have it wrong, and how a politician eats really matters.

    In that instance, please let me know how I get off this crazy rock.

  20. Looks are not everything the ugliest President America ever had turned out to be one of, if not the best they have had.

  21. So after a weekend of Guardian bashing on UKPR a very tame, almost pro Miliband editorial for tomorrow’s paper!

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/22/guardian-view-labour-leadership-ed-miliband

    Their jist is:

    – Stop fighting amongst yourself (even though it was us stiring up un-named sources and no real evidence of in fighting apart from the usual suspects)
    – Get the presentation improved
    – the coalition is “adrift”

    It should be said of course, despite a lot of clenched teeth on here that whatever the tone of the Guardian it is probably the least likely newspaper to have any effect on the GE based on their circulation and their readers less easily swayed than other papers.

  22. @Shevii,

    It’s akin to a man covered in soot, clicking a lighter in one hand and holding an empty jerry can in the other, standing next to a burning building and asking “What stupid bastard did this?”

  23. I’ve got an idea as an alternative to the TV Leaders Debates next May. Line up the four leaders in front of a long table. Place a warm bacon sandwich in front of each of them, leaving a choice of condiments in the middle of the table. Tell them that on the sound of a siren, they will be allowed to select a condiment of their choice (Brown Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Mustard, Etonian Lark’s Tongue Conserve etc) and then told they have no more than a minute to consume their sandwich. Once the sandwich is in the vicinity of the leaders mouths, the TV screen will split into four quadrants and we will then get close ups of each of them wrestling with the tasty breakfast snack.

    Key Prime Ministerial qualities will be observed, including facial expressions, formation of mouth as sandwich is chewed, choice of condiment, speed of consumption and, crucially dining etiquette and use of serviette.

    Voters cum viewers will then be asked, by telephone poll, to vote on who seems most Prime Ministerial.

    Ant and Dec, with the gravitas that Adam Boulton sadly lacks, will then host a programme the following day to announce the winner. In no particular order, of course.

    Who will be the Sphinx without a riddle to emerge out of that little lot? :-)

    Keeping an eye on the World Cup footy of course. These Algerians look a bit tasty, don’t they? What about a France v Algeria final. De Gaulle, eat your heart out!

  24. @Crossbat11

    I think your idea will create a better informed choice than one made by actually believing what our national papers tells out about the election.

  25. @Crossbat11

    It’s a great idea but possibly too intellectual to get a lot of press coverage. I did hear a woman interviewed on TV who said she’d never vote for Cameron because he had a little mouth – so how about just measuring their mouths without them having to put anything in them? So you could, literally, save their bacon.

  26. RogerRebel
    “Looks are not everything the ugliest President America ever had turned out to be one of, if not the best they have had.”

    I don’t know who you mean, but was it any chance before televison?

    To all those complaining about the treatment of Miliband – whether we like it or not looks and demeanour matter to the voting public, or are we suggesting that some people aren’t entitled to vote because their decisions are made on different grounds to the ones that we would use?
    Actually, thinking about it, I sometimes wonder how many posters here are tribal voters, which is just as irrational as judging someone for how they eat a sandwich.

  27. A quick thought on EdM as he seems to be the topic of discussion:

    Has it been considered that his approach has helped keep LAB VI reasonably high, even if people aren’t crediting that to him?

    My reading is that more people are still saying LAB than CON largely because the Tory brand is somewhat toxic. Many (wrongly IMO but that’s not the point) continue to associate the Tories with the rich, the bigoted and the unsympathetic. In essence people don’t believe the CONs to be on their side.

    This construction (re)-entered politics in the Thatcher era, of course, but EdM has successfully kept it alive. He has appeared to be ‘on people’s side’ and positioned the party to take up popular causes such as taking on the banks, the loan sharks, the energy companies etc. etc.

    Now, you could say that these are obvious positions for a Leader of the Opposition to take. However, I’m not convinced that David Miliband or Ed Balls would have been able to distance themselves from New Labour as Ed has done successfully. Whatever people think of LAB people don’t really associate the current party with Blair/Brown and perhaps that is an achievement for EdM.

    Just playing devil’s advocate really, but food for thought.

  28. Good Evening All.
    LIZ H.
    Good to see your comment. Chablis?

  29. ROGERREBEL
    Looks are not everything the ugliest President America ever had turned out to be one of, if not the best they have had.
    —————————

    I assume you mean Lincoln, if so a very topical allusion

  30. I don’t know much about quality but looking back the most attractive Presidents have tended to be Democrats!

  31. @PeteB

    To all those complaining about the treatment of Miliband – whether we like it or not looks and demeanour matter to the voting public, or are we suggesting that some people aren’t entitled to vote because their decisions are made on different grounds to the ones that we would use?

    I haven’t read any posts on this that are partisan. The concern is across the board. The way that MPs are judged by appearance (especially women) is a concern.

    All MPs should be judged by what they say and do, and nothing else. Play the ball, not the man/woman.

  32. We’ve not commented much on the polling info on education – which happens to be my particular area of interest. The figures on academies and, even more, free schools are, in my opinion, notable and perhaps quite surprising as a majority of people seem to support some kind of ‘reform’ but are quite strongly opposed to a ‘reform’ which they have probably not experienced.

  33. @Catmanjeff

    “All MPs should be judged by what they say and do, and nothing else. Play the ball, not the man/woman.”

    Steady on, that’s a bit radical, isn’t it? You mean we shouldn’t judge politicians on how they look down a TV camera and whether they remember a questioners name or not. Cleggy, the old rogue, fooled us all, didn’t he? Looked like the sort of fellow you’d like to have a pint with down the pub and, when all’s said and done, that’s all that really matters.

    Oh, and how well you deliver an official apology. Forgot that one.

    :-)

  34. @Crossbat11

    I think Mr Clegg’s record on what he said vs what he has done provides enough rope….

  35. Seriously, a slightly socially awkward person in front of camera may be an excellent PM, and have really good ideas.

    If looking down a camera, smiling, and being nice makes one a PM, we should have Ant and Dec in Downing Street.

  36. CATMANJEFF

    @”All MPs should be judged by what they say and do, and nothing else.”

    So not by their schooling, or parentage, or social background ?

  37. maura

    Being personally opposed to academies and free schools, I had been pleased to see the Green Party also opposing them, but somewhat surprised, because I had imagined the massive drive to move ever more schools to being academies must have popular support.

    So, it is a pleasant surprise for me to see that it is a Green Party policy that might be viewed positively by a large part of the electorate (if only we in the GP could let them know).

    The downside, of course, will be how few people’s votes would be swung by the issue, even if they were fully aware of the GP’s position (and a miniscule number will be).

  38. CATMANJEFF

    @”All MPs should be judged by what they say and do, and nothing else.”

    Why? Surely each voter is entitled to use whatever criteria they like to judge an MP? You might not think it’s valid, but in a democracy that’s just how it is.

  39. @Colin

    So not by their schooling, or parentage, or social background ?

    Absolutely not.

  40. @Pete B

    Of course people can use their own criteria, but if they want to to impair their judgement by a prejudice then I think that judgement is also impaired.

    It’s my freedom to say that too.

  41. Guardian?
    I was interviewed as a local labour politician in the guardian a week or so ago. The article was about unaffordable cities and I realised the line would probably be un-caring Labourite ignores poverty etc. And so it was but the journalist couldn’t hide his disappointment when I offered him a lift to the community centre he was visiting and it was in a battered micra. He asked me if I didn’t have a limousine. It would have fitted the story better.

  42. “are we suggesting that some people aren’t entitled to vote because their decisions are made on different grounds to the ones that we would use?”

    Dunno about the “we” but certainly they shouldn’t be allowed to vote if they can’t see things my way.

    That would also give us clearer results.

    I jest of course: I would prefer parliament and governments made up of cross sections of those voted in by P R, with policy options needing to be approved by a majority of 50% plus [losing option drop outs etc]

    For as long as I can remember we have been governed by a small section of a party voted in by less than a third of our population.

    There has to be a better way.

  43. @RogerRebel

    Arguably one of our greatest PMs was the least charismatic.

  44. AW
    – a majority (51%) think he’s weak leader, 56% think he’s out of touch with ordinary people, 60% think he wouldn’t be up to the job of PM.

    That would be the Mail, Telegraph, Sun and Guardian readers then. While, OTOH, 44% of 2010 Lab voters think that Ed is doing a good job or a very good job.

    Could it be that, being Lab supporters, they are observing the advice of the party (and indeed the demands of the commentariat) and taking account of opposition polixy making and commitment, and of the reviews and discussion to which it is subjected?

    Pretty odd behaviour, you’ll agree, in the context of the need for an electorate which is spoonfed by the right wing press. Whatever next?

  45. Good Evening ROGERH/
    Churchill said of Mr Attlee that an empty car drew up and Attlee got out.
    His wife rebuked him for that and for his Gestapo charge against Mr Attlee, Mr Bevin, Mr Cripps, Mr Dalton and Mr Shinwell et al.

    The Media was less intrusive then than now; in any case Mr Attlee said he only read the paper to get the cricket score.
    The ‘VI’ swung to Labour after Mr Attlee replied so well to Mr Churchill.

  46. R&D
    “There has to be a better way.”

    I agree. I favour direct democracy rather than representative democracy, i.e. referenda on everything and just have parliament hammer out the details once the principle has been agreed. With modern technology this should not be too difficult.

    To satisfy Catmanjeff (and me incidentally) there could be some modification of ‘one man, one vote’. For instance, all adults could have one vote, but some people might get extra votes. For instance, those who have had higher education might get an extra vote.

  47. “So not by their schooling, or parentage, or social background”

    This probably sums up the central philosophical divide (socially, at least) between left and right.

    Needless to say, I found the sentiment a bit weird.

  48. @Catmanjeff
    “Of course people can use their own criteria, but if they want to to impair their judgement by a prejudice then I think that judgement is also impaired.”

    I think that probably nearly all of us are prejudiced, but some of us (including many posters here and especially myself) can rationalise our prejudices as being based on intellectually rigorous analysis. Perhaps the woman who said she wouldn’t vote for Cameron because his mouth was too small was just being more honest with herself than we are.

  49. “For instance, all adults could have one vote, but some people might get extra votes. For instance, those who have had higher education might get an extra vote.”

    We actually had this, until Labour deviated from the principle of constitutional consensus and abolished it.

  50. I have never observed a link between the educational level achieved and the quality of reason or judgment.

1 2 3 4