Just a quick post on Monday’s regular polls from Lord Ashcroft and Populus. The twice-weekly online poll from Populus has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 3%. Tabs here.

Lord Ashcroft’s weekly telephone poll has topline figures of CON 28%(-1), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 17%(+2), GRN 7% (tabs here).

In my post yesterday I touched on issues of party image – of how the Conservatives lead on competence, but Labour are more likely to be seen as having it’s heart in the right place. Today’s Ashcroft poll has a much bigger section on party image but you can see the same pattern. The Conservative party are more likely to be seen as being “competent and capable”, “having clear ideas to deal with Britain’s problems” and being “willing to take tough decisions for the long term”. However Labour lead on perceptions that are more about values – so they are ahead on “shares my values”, “on the side of people like me” and have big leads on having its “heart in the right place” and “stands for fairness”.

As a general view, I’d say that gap there is what prevents the Conservatives doing much better. The Tories have a leader who rates far more positively than the opposition leader; they now have a consistent lead on the economy, the big issue facing the country. The thing that holds them back is that people do still see them as a party of the rich (and a party of the white) and don’t trust their motives, whereas whatever Labour’s other failings are (and they have their own image problems), the public do at least still see them as having their heart in the right place and caring about fairness.

496 Responses to “Latest Populus and Ashcroft polls”

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  1. @Carfrew,

    So what exactly was Ed M trying to achieve with his bacon-sarnie eating antics? Is wearing a baseball cap to appear “with it” a sin, whereas scarfing a bacon sarnie for the cameras to appear one of the “common people” isn’t?

    Again I think there’s a bit of selective indignation going on. If you ask the press to photograph you eating a sandwich, you can’t complain when they report on you eating a sandwich.

    If it was a stolen long-lens holiday snap it would be different. But that was political bacon in a political sandwich.

  2. @NEIL A

    “Yes, but it’s not a problem when it happens to right-wing politicians. Because they deserve it, for being nasty and all that.”


    As I said to PB, usually when it happens it is to expose stuff like spin or hypocrisy. Miliband gets it for eating a sarnie or by proxy via his dad.

    The parties who toe the press line more will of course likely get less of it…

  3. If he actually is Jewish, why did he choose bacon? Was he trying to prove that he’s not a ‘real’ Jew, thinking that he’ll get more votes that way?

    I don’t think many voters care what religion politicians are. After all D’Israeli was PM about 150 years ago, and there have been many prominent politicians since hwo were Jews.

  4. @Neil

    The need to eat is not a preserve of the workers. You ought to know the press bank up unflattering snaps… The extent to which they use them depends on to what extent parties toe the press line, and how much the press can get them on anything else.

  5. Any person can have their heart in the right place when spending lots of money they don’t have but you wouldn’t want them controlling your families future.

  6. @Pete B

    In fairness to “society” I think we’ve probably moved through and past the “political correctness” barrier. Now that non-white and non-Christian people are represented in pretty much every area of British life, it’s becoming acceptable to make sensible observations again. I just think some people are struggling to catch up with society.


    I think I sort of responded in advance. In no sense was Ed just “eating a sarnie”. Completely with you on the Ralph Miliband story, though. False, vicious, disrespectful and unpatriotic (the story, not Ralph).

  7. Pretty reasonable set of polls for Labour on the face of it. Slight increase in lead it seems, which is always heartening with only 35 weeks or so until the start of the GE campaign.

    The competence/empathy split is also interesting. As an election approaches, it would seem reasonable to think that people will lean more towards competence, but there is a complicating factor.

    Empathy is much more about who you are, whereas competence is about what you’ve done. You can’t really change empathy – or at least not quickly – whereas competence can be lost really very rapidly. One fiasco and it’s gone.

    The Polish foreign minister has questioned DC’s competence in the EU, and I think he has a point, but that issue won’t change overall perceptions – but there’s always a chance that something might in the next 35 weeks or so.

  8. @Neil

    I’m not convinced that merely being seen to eat is an attempt to be seen as common people. Indeed, the ease with which it is possible to take unflattering snaps while eating suggests it was unlikely to have been staged. And his minders soon stopped it when they realised he was being photographed.

    But in any event, the point is that overall, the parties that toe the line more, will see less of such stuff…

  9. @Carfrew,

    The photographs of Ed with the sandwich were not “banked”. They were taken at a press event organised by Labour, on a whistlestop tour of “ordinary things” to emphasise how Ed understands the effect of the “cost of living crisis”.

    Seriously, if he had eaten the sandwich competently, the story would have been about something else. Just bad luck. You win some you lose some. It’s not a conspiracy. And if George had been the one eating the sandwich, in the same fashion, the press would have run that too.

    Of course, if it was Boris fumbling the sandwich, he would just have roared with laughter, picked some crumbs out of his hair, made a self-deprecating remark and quoted some Cicero and seen his approval ratings notch up a couple of extra points. But then Boris is some kind of Jedi politics wizard we can’t hope to understand…

  10. Did anyone else notice how Cammo referred to D Day as “a great achievement of our Grandfathers’ generation ” ? This was factually wrong as far as he is concerned, and quite slick , cos Ed M’s dad was in the invasion fleet.

  11. @Neil A

    If they had wanted Ed to be photographed eating the sandwich, they wouldn’t have stopped it. And yes it wasn’t banked ‘cos they used it straight away. But it seems you are more exercised by this than my broader point…

  12. For what it’s worth, I suspect that 99% of the population couldn’t give a monkey’s chuff about Ed’s sandwich.

    I think the impact on VI or image will be a big fat zero.

  13. And even posh people eat sandwiches. Don’t see how it would prove much. Pasties though, that was rather more pointed, given the context and how DC had supposedly had one in a shop that had closed down…

  14. PETE B

    “If he actually is Jewish, why did he choose bacon? Was he trying to prove that he’s not a ‘real’ Jew, thinking that he’ll get more votes?”

    I don’t think it’s any great secret that he is actually an atheist. Therefore the religious strictures against bacon simply don’t apply.

    I would guess it’s more the fact that bacon sandwiches are very tasty rather than trying to “prove” anything.

  15. Neil A

    Actually I think the Hague baseball cap and the Miliband bacon sarnie incident are pretty similar – they both smack of an attempt to make the politician look like an ‘ordinary person’ in a way which is patronising to ordinary people and seems false for that individual. (Why bacon makes you look more normal than, say, an apple is a mystery).

    Pete B
    I don’t know what you’re on about. Of course ‘white British people’ can criticise others – but that doesn’t mean that some people, whether ‘white British’ or not are racist and make remarks that illustrate that fact and we should all try to be vigilant about it surely?


    “For what it’s worth, I suspect that 99% of the population couldn’t give a monkey’s chuff about Ed’s sandwich.
    I think the impact on VI or image will be a big fat zero.”


    Well we could have polling on it. “Do you, the voter, give a minkey’s chuff, or indeed any other kind if chuff, about Ed’s working lunch?”

    But we could do with some psychological testing alongside to see if there’s a subliminal effect. Like, maybe people don’t realise but it does have an effect on the chuffness of it all after all…

  17. @Carfrew,

    I think perhaps you need to go back and read the actual reporting. And from all the papers (including the Mirror and the Independent) not just the anti-Ed hatchet sheets. The entire market visit was a photo-op. They only tried to stop the cameras once it started to go wrong.

    The only thing I’m exercised by is this “victim complex”. There are plenty of examples of utterly indefensible attacks on left-wing politicians by the right-wing press. There’s no need to treat every single unflattering story as part of some overarching conspiracy. The press are more interested in entertainment, and therefore sales, than they will ever be in politics. People making funny faces whilst chewing bacon is circulation-fuel, that’s all.

    But that’s enough. I know I won’t convince you and I think both of our perceptions have been thoroughly aired.

  18. minkey = monkey. Unless maybe a minkey’s chuff is more salient somehow…

  19. @ everybody

    Ed supporter that I am, I think Neil A’s view that it was an ill-advised photo opp gone wrong brings home the bacon

  20. The Polish Prime Minister has a good grasp of the Anglo Saxon

  21. Norbold
    I wonder whether even though he is an atheist, early influences have given him a gag reflex when eating pork?

    Anyway, it didn’t look as though he’d ever eaten a bacon sandwich before and was therefore a PR disaster. Like Hague’s baseball cap, it is probably an image that will last. We might not approve, but the world doesn’t always work as we would like it to.

  22. @Ewen,

    Eh? What are you on about? Cameron’s grandfather was actually wounded in Normandy on D-Day!!

  23. “But that’s enough. I know I won’t convince you and I think both of our perceptions have been thoroughly aired.”
    I am perfectly capable of being convinced so could do without the ad hominem. It’s just that you don’t have a case: they stopped him eating the sandwich!! And it was a sandwich. Even toffs eats sandwiches!!
    But sure, the event itself may have involved PR/promotion of cost of living… Instead though, for the press it was about a sandwich. How much coverage is given to Tory policy proposals, and how much derailed by unflatteting pics, versus same for Labour, is the underly-ing issue, and consequential effect on VI.

  24. I haven’t googled but I doubt Ralph was a religious Jew given his political leanings – even if he was I don’t think he would have raised Ed and David to be religious. So an early-years gag reflex is improbable. It just looked too chewy.

    It was ill-advised through – when I’m leader of the Labour Party I’ll do much better by only ever eating in private ;)

  25. @Pete,

    Nope, I think the Jewish-bacon link is a non-starter. I don’t doubt that Ed’s eaten many bacon sandwiches in his life, and almost certainly with skill, panache and pleasure. He just had an off day, like an England batsman or Steven Gerrard.

  26. “Ed supporter that I am, I think Neil A’s view that it was an ill-advised photo opp gone wrong brings home the bacon”


    I’m not an Ed supporter but Neil’s angle evades the point about overall balance of coverage, distraction from policy and effect on VI.

  27. Whilst simultaneously acknowledging the scurrilous reporting of the right-wing press about left-wing politicians and decrying the Ralph Miliband attack.

  28. PETE B

    “If he actually is Jewish, why did he choose bacon? Was he trying to prove that he’s not a ‘real’ Jew, thinking that he’ll get more votes?”

    Yes Pete. That’s almost definitely what they were planning.

    In fact a lot of people said to me:

    “Blimey Paul !! He’s not a “real Jew” if he’s eating bacon !!!!! He gets my vote now and that’s a fact.”

    [good grief…………………..]

  29. Ok Neil, so the issue is, what’s the likely effect on VI… (and even pollling companies and questions!!) of focusing on, say, bacon sarnies, eating of, burying Labour’s cost of living proposals in the first place?

  30. Neil A
    Whoops ! Apologies to the shade of Cammo’s Grandad.

  31. Okay, while I’ve got a comment in reply to Maura in moderation, I’m giving up on the Bacon thing.

    However, I think that the press seize on any faux pas by any prominent politician of any party. Most of the Labour stuff is aimed at Ed, because he’s the only current Labour politician most people have heard of. But what about Boris on his zip-wire? Hague’s baseball cap I’ve mentioned before. There was Howard and ‘something of the night’, Farage and his lady friend in Paris (?), Michael Fabricant and his threat to punch some woman. this is all just froth to sell papers, as Neil says. It’s just that some stick.
    I can still remember the fuss over Macmillan going grouse shooting when he should have been working.

  32. Or more importantly, a relentless campaign along those lines…

  33. @Pete B

    As pointed out: of it is salient. It’s pointing to contradictions, hypocrisy, spin and attempts to hide the truth, gloss over policy errors on pasties etc.

    Some of it is froth to distract from policy etc.

  34. Although Disraeli was born into a Jewish family he became a Christian at a very early age (I think about 12 or 13) and so would have described himself as a Christian politician. I think there might be an early etching of him eating a bacon sandwich just to win over any doubters….also of course there’s the famous oil painting of Gladstone with the pease pudding kofta.

  35. (…As pointed out: SOME of it is salient…)

  36. So, this is what it comes down to then; the competence of sandwich eating. As I said yesterday, let’s get it on and have Farage, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg demonstrating their sarnie-consuming abilities, in public for the great British electorate to assess.

    Come on, let’s be honest and blunt here. Would you trust the running of the country with someone who couldn’t handle a bacon sandwich competently? I certainly wouldn’t in much the same way as I wouldn’t trust a surgeon who had a dodgy taste in music. I once refused to be operated upon by one such medical charlatan when I discovered he liked The Eagles.

  37. “when I’m leader of the Labour Party I’ll do much better by only ever eating in private ”

    These are the sort of policies we should have had when candidates were making a pitch for the leasership:

    “How do you feel about baseball caps? Ice cream? Bacon? Buying homes for your children? Are you a vampire?
    Are you a quiet man or can you get louder? [Oh… actually, don’t bother, just shutup anyway.]
    Do any of your ancestors suffer from premature baldness [Oh, sorry Teresa – but yes, we would like an answer please…] ”

    Eat-Bleedin’ Cetra.

  38. R&D
    If you’d read on, you’d have seen what a ridiculous idea I thought that was.

  39. Maura

    I think you missed out the “Olly Cromwell and the Seafood Pizza” etchings.

    You could almost smell it.

  40. “R&D
    If you’d read on, you’d have seen what a ridiculous idea I thought that was.”


    I thought it was a guddun.

  41. Maura and Crossbat
    Very good. lol as David Cameron says.

  42. Political significance of bacon sarnie issue: zilch. Ditto the zip wire, baseball cap, grouse moor, etc quoted by Pete B. Who remembers these things? People like us of course, those interested in things political. And we are what? 5% of the electorate? Most of whom don’t read our (pretty pathetic) press. And many of whom (and I suspect increasing at an exponential rate) don’t even watch the news on TV.

  43. I can’t believe we are still going on about the bacon sandwich, that is old news now. I remember some pictures of David Cameron looking very overweight changing on the beach a few months ago that many Labour supporters seemed to enjoy – if the press get a set of pictures that make a politician look ridiculous they use them, such is the nature of our press. And they all seem to use them because it sells papers. Such is the nature of the public.

  44. I think we should have the three way leaders’ debate on telly, like 2010, but the three leaders must alternate in each programme between wearing a baseball bat whilst giving boring answers, eating ice creams whilst giving boring answers and eating a bacon sandwich whilst giving boring answers.

    [They must also remember the names of all the questioners and “absolutely” agree with all of their points, whatever they may be.]

  45. Neil A

    I honestly don’t think that’s how the question of “competence” is meant or perceived.

    I think people that believe that the Tories are ruthlessly efficient in destroying public services and serving the moneyed classes would not describe them as “competent”

    I’m sure it’s not how Ashcroft meant “competent and capable” or indeed how most people took it. But I think there will be some who that a Party (or all of them) are competent at promoting their own interests or capable of anything. People are often capable of picking up on an ambiguity and seeing it as saying what they want it to mean. And you only have to look at the comments on CiF to know that is exactly how some people are capable of describing the Tories.

    The most interesting thing I find about the Ashcroft questions about the attributes of the Parties is just how narrow the range of opinions is. The gap between the lowest figure (the 20% who think the Lib Dems are competent[1]) and the highest (the 57% who think UKIP “Says things that need to be said that other parties are scared to say” – a description practically written to match the perception of them) is only 37 points.

    The very evenness of this may be due to different responses from different groups of people just happening to come up with results that nearly match. But you can’t help wondering if 20% of the population say nice things about everyone, 50% hate them all and only the remaining 30% have any real views.

    [1] Which rather destroys the justification that Clegg gave about coalition being good for the Lib Dem image because people would see them in positions of power.

  46. RnD
    “Olly Cromwell and the seafood pizza ” etchings….
    Would that be with “warts and all”?

  47. Ewen.

    warts, shrimps, jellied eel ….. scrumptious.

  48. @Maura et al
    Disraeli was a convert, true, but he was also the object of antisemitism – he was caricatured with side locks for example.

    As for Jews having a gag reflex when confronted with pork – well that seems to me to be an anti-semitic comment to me. Pretty poor stuff.

  49. @ R&D

    All chazerai, along with the butty that EM shouldn’t have been seen eating.

  50. “I can’t believe we are still going on about the bacon sandwich…”


    Don’t worry about it Richard: at any one time there is usually somebody who cannot believe we are discussing something or other. It’s not unusual for it to be something of a proxy for something bigger, as in this case…

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