• Opinions of Israel and USA down
  • Blair’s job approval at new low
  • Popularity boost for Jack Straw after criticism of Israel

Below are the latest findings from YouGov’s daily political tracker polls, conducted as part of their Brandindex surveys. Opinions of Israel have continued to fall since the last report – their net positive/negative impression is now down to minus 50 from minus 45 a fortnight ago and minus 41 prior to the present hostilities with Hezbollah. Compare this to Iran on minus 60, the lowest rated country out of those tracked by YouGov – and it’s worth noting that a large part of the difference is due to the fact that a very stable 5% of respondents always say they have a positive opinion of Israel, while hardly anyone says they have a positive view of Iran. Opinions of the US have also dropped, down from minus 25 before the conflict to minus 34 now.

Given the public’s hostility to Israel’s actions this should come as little surprise. What is more interesting in the domestic arena is how the responses of British politicians have gone down with the public.

Tony Blair’s ratings have unsurprisingly fallen – bottoming out at a net job approval of minus 38 following his meeting with President Bush on the 27th July. On the questions asking about positive or negative impressions of politicians, Tony Blair now has the most negative net rating of any of the politicians tracked. The wider image of the Labour party has also suffered, the percentage of people saying that the Labour party “stands up for Britain’s interests” has fallen to 17%, while the proportion of people saying they “represent the interests of people like me” has dropped to 14%. The percentage of people thinking that Labour are the most trustworthy party on Britain’s relations with the rest of the world has dropped from 24% to 17%.

The responses of the main opposition parties doesn’t seem to have had much effect. The proportion of people who think the Liberal Democrats have the best party on dealing with foreign affairs has risen marginally – up 2 points from 8% to 10% – but Menzies Campbell certainly hasn’t benefited: his net job approval is down to minus 24. In contrast David Cameron’s job approval is up to plus 15 from his low of plus 11.

I suspect neither of these changes has any connection with the two mens’ comment (or lack of comment) on the events in Lebanon. Rather Campbells’ decline is the fading of the boost he received after the Liberal Democrats’ near miss in Bromley, while Cameron’s rise is the fading of the negative effect of his “hug-a-hoodie” speech.

The one man whose reputation has benefited from his response to the conflict in Lebanon is, rather surprisingly, the former foreign secretary Jack Straw. After publicly criticising the actions of Israel public perceptions of Straw rose markedly – his net postive/negative perceptions went up from minus 21 to minus 12, making him suddenly one of the most popular members of the government. Like his predecessor as foreign secretary publicly dissenting from Blair’s foreign policy is making Straw popular – the difference is that, unlike Robin Cook, Straw remains a member of the government.

pdf Download full report HERE.

  • Cameron’s ratings drop after “hug-a-hoodie” speech and EPP delay
  • Labour unscathed by Lord Levy arrest

The latest figures from YouGov’s daily political trackers are picking up a significant downturn in David Cameron’s job approval figures. Prior to the local elections Cameron’s figures had begun to fall – after his trip to Norway and the press coverage of his shoes being chauffeur driven behind his bike his net approval rating fell to +13, but then the Conservative’s local election successes gave him a huge boost, pushing his net approval up to +28. It stayed in the low twenties through May and June, since the start of July however it has begun to fall, quite precipitously in the last few days.

Over the last two weeks David Cameron has made his “hug-a-hoodie” speech, a speech which was quite thoughtful in reality, but was disasterously spun and has been the subject of much mockery in the press. He also quietly announced that his pledge to remove Conservative MEPs from the EPP-ED in the European Parliament was to be delayed until 2009. During that time his net approval rating has dropped to +12, the lowest recorded so far.

It’s impossible to link the drop directly to either event. The proportion of people thinking that the Conservatives have the best policies on crime has dropped slightly from around 33% up until now, to only 30% since the “hug-a-hoodie” speech, that is only a small drop, but does suggest that the crime speech had some impact. It’s important to note that Cameron’s job approval figures are still vastly higher than Blair on minus 34 and Menzies Campbell on minus 15 but it isn’t a good trend for him.

Meanwhile, there was surprisingly little impact on the trackers from the arrest of Lord Levy. Satisfaction with the government and with Tony Blair personally both remain very low, but there was no dramatic fall after the arrest. Possibly the public have already factored the loans for peerages scandal into their opinions, or Labour are reaching their real hardcore of support. Either way, it suggests that baring major new developments in the “loans for peerages” affair, such as criminal charges being brought or Blair himself being interviewed, it doesn’t look as though it is going to have a huge effect.

More details and graphs are in the pdf below:

pdf Download full report HERE.


  • Consolidation for Labour and the Tories after the Local Elections
  • Ming Campbell’s figures improve after Bromley & Chislehurst
  • The Home Office is a poison chalice for Dr John Reid
  • Hilary Benn is the most popular Labour Minister
  • The World Cup gives a boost to Germany

UK Polling Report has been given access to the latest figures from YouGov’s daily political trackers, covering changes since my last report in mid-June.

The shifts seen after the foreign prisoner release scandal and the Conservative successes at the local elections have been largely consolidated. The falls in Tony Blair’s approval ratings and the sharp drop in the Labour party’s reputation for competence have both been maintained, but the recovery in the Labour position on most policy issues continued. This suggests that while all those polls showing a Conservative lead as the best party to run the NHS and suchlike were just the result of a torrid couple of weeks for Labour, there has been a genuine change in peoples’ perceptions of Labour’s competence and it is this and disillusionment with Blair that has pushed them behind the Conservatives in the polls.

There is some good news for Menzies Campbell – throughout June his job approval ratings flatlined at about minus 22, but since the Liberal Democrats’ performance in the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election his ratings have perked up considerably. He is still at minus 16, but he does at least have a positive trend.

Looking at the leaders’ ratings in general reveals something quite interesting. The trackers include good job/bad job questions for the party leaders and Gordon Brown, they also include a more general question on people’s opinions of leading politicians asking if people have a positive or negative impression of that politician, and the politicians covered include Blair, Brown, Cameron and Campbell. The scores for Blair on the two questions tend to track each other very closely. Those for Menzies Campbell are currently very close, but for most of June Campbell’s job approval rating was below his positive/negative impression rating, suggesting that even some of those who viewed Campbell positively didn’t think he was doing a particularly good job. For both David Cameron and Gordon Brown there is a large discrepancy between the figures, both men have a higher job approval rating than they do a positive/negative impression rating, suggesting there are many people who dislike Brown or Cameron, either because of their politics or their personalities, but who nonetheless admit they are doing a good job.

The sharpest movement amongst the politicians tracked is for John Reid, whose figures have declined steeply since his appointment to the Home Office. The months since then have seen a constant trickle of negative stories about Home Office incompetence which seem to have taken their toll on Reid’s popularity, from minus 10 in mid-May his positive/negative impression rating has fallen to minus 19.

Looking at the other Labour ministers tracked, 26% of people have a positive impression of Gordon Brown compared to 46% who have a negative impression, a net score of -20. While people like Alan Johnson (-7) and David Miliband (-12) appear to be viewed more positively than Gordon Brown, this is mainly a function of their low public visibility. The Labour minister viewed most positively, both in terms of net score (-3) and the proportion of those who gave an opinion who had a positive impression of him (42%) was Hilary Benn. Whether this is a reflection of Benn’s own charm, the fact that Secretary of State for International Development is a job where it is easy to be liked (giving money to needy people in the Third World, what a nice bloke), or people translating positive opinions about Tony Benn onto his son is impossible to say.

Finally, the trackers of attitudes towards countries show that people in the UK have a considerably more favourable opinion of Germany now than prior to the World Cup. France also saw their figures rise, though since all these figures are prior to Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt that may yet change.

More details, and graphs showing all these trends, can be downloaded in the report below:

pdf Download full report HERE.