The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times survey are now up here, largely covering the Labour leadership and atttitudes towards taxes on the rich.

The comparisons between Ed Miliband and David Cameron show the regular pattern we’ve seen in other polling and in the Opinium poll last night: Cameron is regarded as a stronger leader, more decisive and more likeable. He is also seen as having a clearer vision for the country and a better strategy of the economy. Where Cameron falls down, and Miliband has the advantage, is in being seen as in touch with ordinary people where Ed leads by 40% to 19%. On being trustworthy there is very little to choose between the two men.

On Ed Miliband’s leadership in particular, only 23% of people say he has made it clear what he stands for, 58% think he has not. 31% think he has been too close to the trade unions, 35% think he has not been close enough to business – surprisingly perhaps, given the often hostile attitudes polls find towards big business. While people saying Miliband is too anti-business are largely Conservative supporters, even 20% of Labour voters think Miliband has been too anti-business.

While Miliband’s ratings remain poor, he is seem as a much more appealing leader than Ed Balls or Yvetter Cooper. In both cases more people say Balls or Cooper would make them less likely to vote Labour than say they would make them more likely to vote Labour. Ed is, however, still seen as less appealing than his brother. 18% of people say they would be more likely to vote Labour with David Miliband as leader compared to only 7% who would be less likely.

Turning to taxes on the wealthy, 55% of people think that rich people are not paying enough tax and should pay more. Asked at what point higher taxes on the rich should cut in, the median point of those who gave an answer was £100,000.

However, while there is widespread support for more tax on the rich, this doesn’t necessarily translate into support for wealth taxes on the rich, as opposed to income taxes on the rich. When YouGov asked whether people thought it was fairer to tax wealth or income, 69% said income to only 22% who thought it fairer to tax wealth.

They also tested whether people generally saw the rich as making a positive or negative contribution to the country and found a fairly even split – 30% of people thought that rich people generally make a positive contribution to the country, 38% of people think they make a negative one. This goes to explain some of the other attitudes to taxes on the rich – 67% of people think that increasing taxes on the rich risks driving wealthy people abroad, but two thirds of those would support it anyway.

Opinium’s weekly poll for the Observer is already out and has topline figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 39%(-3), LDEM 10%(+2), Others 22%(+2), including UKIP on 10%. The Lib Dems are up two points since their conference, though it is impossible to know whether that is a small conference boost or just normal sample variation.

The rest of the asked people to compare Cameron, Miliband and Clegg on various attributes, showing the patterns of strengths and weaknesses we’ve become accustommed to: Cameron has substantial leads on being able to take tough decisions, being capable and having a clear vision of where the country should be heading. Ed Miliband leads on caring about every sector of society and being in touch with ordinary people. Asked if they could imagine Ed Miliband being Prime Minister only 29% said they could, 62% could not.

Meanwhile the weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 7%. The five point Labour is is obviously low by the standards of YouGov’s recent polling, but all the normal caveats apply. Sure, it could be a narrowing of the Labour lead, but there is no particular reason to expect one so it could just as easily be down to normal sample error.


The Conservative party have got some very good pickup in the press this morning for some Populus polling they have commissioned about Ed Miliband. It’s very good PR for them, framing the start of Labour conference with media discussion of Miliband’s position, but the polling itself doesn’t actually tell us much new – people are not particularly keen on Ed Miliband and don’t seem him as Prime Ministerial.

I haven’t seen the tables for the survey yet, but none of the answers reported in the papers seem unusual or surprising – they are mostly things that we have already seen in published newspaper polls. Some of the figures look like they haven’t given people don’t knows or have re-percentaged to exclude them, which makes answers look more impressive, but the balance of opinion doesn’t seem surprising. Earlier this month we saw MORI finding David Cameron had extremely large leads over Miliband on being Prime Ministerial, being smart and strong enough for the job. YouGov last year found 45% of Labour voters thought the party would have been better off with David Miliband and 41% of Labour voters thought they’d made the wrong choice. In today’s Times they report their own Populus found showing 59% of people still agree that they fnd it difficult to imagine Ed Miliband as PM (though this is down from 68% in January).

You should always be very cautious about polls commissioned by political parties (and, for that matter, by pressure groups and other campaigning organisations) – the polling company they commission should always ensure that the questions they ask are fair and balanced, but they still choose what sort of things to ask about. For example, the Conservative party obviously didn’t commission polling asking about whether Ed Miliband was more in touch with ordinary people than David Cameron, as they wouldn’t have liked the answers.

If it is being reported accurately there also appears to one very silly question in there – would people be more likely to vote Labour with a stronger leader? Well, yes, of course they would – ditto for any other party. Unless the incumbent leader is the absolute best possible leader imaginable, the Platonic ideal of a leader, then presumably you’d be even more likely to vote for the party if it had an even better leader (ditto even better policies, or even better MPs, or whatever).

That said, While the choice of questions maybe designed to create a particular impression, it doesn’t change the underlying truth – polls show that Ed Miliband has some problems with how the public see him.

I’ve written about this at some length and I don’t propose to go back through it at length – go read it here if you missed it – suffice to say, Miliband performs very poorly compared to his party when it comes to beng seen as a potential Prime Minister. He is less popular than his party and seems to decrease Labour’s support when he is mentioned. When particularly characteristics are asked about he is seem as honest and in touch with ordinary people, but weak and not up to the job.

Whether this really matters is a different question, and one I’ve written about here. The bottom line is that the public do have poor perceptions of Miliband and he probably is being a drag on their support… BUT they are ahead in the polls even with him, so it clearly can’t be that much of a game breaker. The more pertinent question is whether Miliband’s suitability as PM will become more of a consideration to voters as we get closer to an election, and that is an open question.

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%. Yesterday had a thirteen point lead, but today’s is very much back into the normal range. There is no sign of any bounce for the Liberal Democrats from their conference, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect one yet – any impact normally peaks after the leader’s speech. Interestingly enough where there is some whiff of a conference boost is UKIP, who YouGov have shown at 9% for two days in a row. Its not significantly above the seven to eight that YouGov normally record for UKIP so could easily be normal sample variation, but YouGov haven’t shown them that high for a good six weeks.

Tomorrow and Sunday’s polls will show any impact from the Lib Dem conference, although as always in conference season the peaks of troughs of each party as their conferences come and go isn’t really that important – it is whether things are any different once these short term publicity effects fade.

The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian is out and has topline figures of CON 31%(-3), LAB 41%(+2), LDEM 14%(-1), Others 14%. In the last couple of years ICM have tended to show smaller Labour leads than many other polling companies for methological reasons, so while ten point leads for Labour have been two-a-penny these last six months, for ICM it is a very large lead, the biggest they’ve shown since 2003. The poll also has UKIP at 6% – a high figure for a telephone pollster.

There is also a new TNS BMRB poll out with topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 44%(+1), LDEM 8%(-1), Others 19%(+2) (including UKIP at 7% and the Greens at 5%). While TNS do tend to show some of the largest leads anyway, the sixteen point Labour lead is the largest any company has shown this Parliament. Suffice to say, I think we can write off the sharp narrowing of the lead in the weekend ComRes poll as an outlier!

From here on in we are into conference season polling. In some past years this has produced a rollercoaster effect, with each party enjoying a boost in the polls in the immediate aftermath of their conference and their leader’s conference address. In other years it has had hardly any effect… we shall have to see which sort of conference season 2012 is.