More Miliband polling

The cause of today’s polling excitement are MORI’s questions asking respondents to compare Ed Miliband and David Cameron, results here. Briefly put, David Cameron enjoyed leads over Ed Miliband on most measures, often by a long way. He led on being eloquent by 59% to 15%, on being Prime Ministerial by 57% to 17%, on being tough enough for the job by 54% to 18%, on being smart enough for the job by 54% to 22%, represents Britain by 46% to 26%, on being fun to meet in person by 34% to 21%, likable by 38% to 29% and a good person by 35% to 30%.

Miliband lead on understanding people like me, by 36% to 26%, and protecting British jobs, by 37% to 31%. The two men were pretty much neck and neck on having the right values.

The fact that people think David Cameron is better suited to the job of Prime Minister than Ed Miliband is not particularly new. Cameron has a consistent lead on best Prime Minister, as we saw in July on PM preference Miliband trails a long way behind Labour’s position in VI. There was a Populus poll earlier this week showing even a majority of people who thought David Cameron was doing a bad job as PM would still rather have him in the role than Ed Miliband. All this new poll helps us to understand is some of the reasons why… and again, the picture is in line with other polling about Cameron and Miliband’s respective strengths and weaknesses. Ed is better on understanding ordinary people, but trails badly on being Prime Ministerial or being strong.

What does it actually mean though? As I wrote in July, people’s answers to this are very much coloured by what they would like to be true. I see an awful lot of Labour supporters trying to convince themselves that how voters see the leader is an irrelevance, and an awful lot of Conservative supporters trying to convince themselves that it is impossible for people to actually vote for Ed Miliband and he will be a fatal block to Labour’s chances. As ever, I expect both ends of the spectrum are wrong in their own ways.

Unfortunately, the evidence on which one is closer to the truth is not cut and dried. The last three British Election Studies (the major academic study of why people vote at British general elections, based on extensive parallel face-to-face and online polling and key driver analysis of the data) have consistently shown that voters’ opinions of the party leaders is a significant factor in deciding how they vote. It certainly convinces me, and I would have thought it almost a statement of the bleeding bloody obvious that perceptions of the party leader colour people’s perceptions of the whole party and, therefore, influences votes. However, it would be wrong to say that all academics agree on this – it is a controversial subject and some argue the opposite.

What causes me more pause for thought is the fact that opinions of party leaders are, as it were, already factored into the price. People don’t rate Ed Miliband highly as a potential Prime Minister… and yet they are telling us they would vote Labour. Clearly it can’t be putting them off that much. The question here – and again, it is one to which there is no good answer, is whether the issue will become more important as we get closer to a general election. It is a reasonable hypothesis that people answering opinion polls mid-term (and voting in mid-term elections) are largely registering a protest against the incumbent government, whereas once we approach an actual general election it becomes more of a comparison between two alternative governments, parties and Prime Ministers. If that were the case, Ed Miliband’s ratings now wouldn’t necessarily matter much, but could become increasingly important as the election approached.

I don’t particularly expect to cause many pauses for thought here, I’ve read enough comments to know it is one of those issues where people believe what they would like to be true. I shall leave, therefore, with the historical example that is nearly always cited in discussions like this.

In any conversation about this issue, the topic of Margaret Thatcher is brought up. Mrs Thatcher wasn’t particularly popular as Leader of the Opposition, while Jim Callaghan was comfortable and avuncular and likeable. He pretty consistently outpolled Margaret Thatcher on who would make the best Prime Minister. It certainly shows that people can and have voted for the less popular “Prime Ministerial candidate”. It does not follow, however, that it doesn’t matter. How much better would the Conservatives have done with a more popular leader than Thatcher in 1979? How much worse would Labour have done with a less popular candidate than Callaghan? We can’t tell.

157 Responses to “More Miliband polling”

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  1. “This tells you how out of touch I’ve gotten with this but what is Clegg apologizing for?”
    They uploaded a video to Youtube/I believe it was also shown on TV of Nick Clegg apologising for tuition fees.
    But after the video was shown, the LibDems made it clear that he wasn’t actually apologising for tuition fees but he was apologising for making a promise that he knew before the election that he couldn’t keep.

    It’s quite a big shift in narrative – before this point, there’s been no hint at an apology because ‘the promise would only count if we had a majority but we’re in coalition’.

  2. @ Nick P

    “Looking at the best PM voting…nearly all the Tories rate Cam highest. Only a quarter of current LD voters think Ed wuld be best PM (more than 40% think it would be Clegg). The telling one is that only 60% of Lab intended voters think that Ed would make best PM, with 34% saying don’t know.

    The whole Tory strategy seems to be aimed at persuading those 34% who intend to vote Lab that they should vote for Con because Cam is more sexy than Ed. But none of them said that Cam would be make best PM…they said they didn’t know.”

    Do you think there’s any Labour leader who could be viewed by a large chunk of LDs as the best PM?

  3. I can understand why Cons are pinning their electoral hopes on joe public not voting for Lab because of EM. IMO, this ‘focusing’ on EM is desperation, and an attempt to deflect Cons’ anger at and despair of DC and also because there seems to be increasing belief that Lab will/may win the next GE..

    I think EM and Lab are doing fine. They must carry on as they are slowly building belief that they are a PM and govt in waiting.

    As regards popularity of leaders and PMs…wasn’t Maggie the most despised / hated PM of all time up to the point of securing the Falklands? And we also have that ‘boy’ Nick who has gone from hero to zero in a very short space of time.

    Yet, I also think that joe public do want a PM who is capable, sensible, ‘normal’, charming, eloquent, and seen as doing what it right for the people. By these measures, I would say DC fails…whether EM can success remains to be seen.

  4. Ed Miliband has taken excellent judgement calls over the last two and half years(Anti-austerity,remaining in the centre) and taken calculated risks( Responsible Captalism) which must have contributed to Labour VI.The local elections proved that Labour VI was not just a souffle as some commentators put it.Maybe there needs to be polling on how much Labour will poll if they had supported austerity as some Labourites wanted to.


    I think you are on the button that the focus on Ed is to take the focus of DC as he is coming under real pressure from Boris.With 14 MP`s writing to Graham Brady,they must be worried that the trickle might turn into a downpour.

  5. SoCaL – almost all GB polls (with the main exception of YouGov) are effectively only of likely voters. GB pollsters use different methods, often just weighting down “unlikely” voters rather than excluding them entirely from the sample, and it is only voting intention figures that have a likely voter screen applied, not the whole poll, but it’s there.

    (And the tighter the screen the more it normally helps the Conservatives…. although this month’s MORI was again an exception to that rule, in that the voter screen helped Labour marginally.)

  6. In the Middle of the last Labour Governments term of office these are the respective figures for Cameron ,Brown and Clegg when You Gov asked the self same question

    36% Cameron 17% Brown 10% 10 Clegg

    The results of the 2010 Election were

    36.1% Tory 29.0% Labour 23.0% LD

    Assuming that the core Tory vote ( those who will vote for anyone or anything with a Blue Rosette) is around the low 30’s% loyalty by the Tory faithful to their leader seems to be somewhat higher than amongst Labour supporters.

    It does not however, mean they all then proceed to go out and vote Tory because they regard the Tory leader as more Prime Ministerial.

    If they had we would now have a Tory Government with a Substantial Majority.

  7. I am actually starting to think that recent polling and media discussion about Ed Miliband is good for Ed/Labour. It means that he is being taken seriously and any coverage is good. They are not writing him off.

    Todays poll is showing Labour back to a 12% lead.

    Lab 45%
    Tories 33%
    LD 10%

  8. @ Hannah:

    @Allan Christie:
    “Sorry Ed you have the personality of a Grommet!!”
    What, serious, loyal, good in a crisis?


    Aye. And despite looking like a bumbling clown, he always ends up winning against all odds.

  9. @ Leftylampton

    Ask DM if he thinks EM is loyal!

  10. @The Other Howard

    What does loyalty have to do with it? Ed had a different view of Labour and the country’s future to his brother. Why shouldn’t he have stood for leader?

  11. Here’s my two pennorth on how Miliband should address the credibility gap.

    He’s never going to possess the assured, droit du seigneur-like air that Cameron so effortlessly carries. That matters of course, because that easy self-confidence is a large part of the “appearing Prime Ministerial” issue – especially to those whose interest in politics is minimal.

    He’s never going to have the easy charm that Nick “I bedded 30-odd women and you can see my technique as I look you in the eye with a combination of gentle authority and flirtatiousness and remember your name whilst answering your question Gladys” Clegg so comfortably wore in the run up to May10.

    He knows that. The electorate knows that. So there really is no point competing on those terms. He’ll look false and come out second best.

    Equally, it’s no good ignoring the issue. If personality and perception of the leaders’ styles is allowed to dominate in 15, then, as plenty have pointed out here, he’ll be a liability.

    My advice would be to lance the boil now. Have a media offensive that met those facts head on. Be a little self-deprecating. Admit that he doesn’t have swagger and lady-killing charm.

    And then follow it up by pointing out how useless those values turned out to be for Clegg and Cameron in the business of running the country.

    Win a little attention, gain a little respect for being genuine rather than trying to wesr ill-fitting clothes. Then look to move the focus beyond the superficial and onto the content. Which is where he has thoroughly out-played Cameron for 18 months.

  12. ToH

    Look, I know that you on the Right are wedded to the idea of primogeniture, but here on the Left, we fail to see why standing in a democratic election is the epitome of disloyalty.

  13. Way off topic, but I’ve just bought the Swedish celebrity magazine “Se och Hör”. Only cost a couple of quid, so I got 5 copies. Why spend a tenner on a rubbish gossip mag? Well, they’ve just published those famous pictures. Yes, *** those *** ones.

    I won’t give you a detailed run-down, but I really am struggling to see why on earth the British royal family went ballistic over this. Everyone in Sweden is like: “is that it” ?!?

    Really, really mild stuff, and very poor quality. The only remotely dodgy one is… (self-censored Anthony).

    To redeem myself: the Swedish opinion polls have been fun recently. After a glorious first 7 months in office, the gloss is coming off the new Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven, and, more surprisingly, the Greens are looking decidedly uncomfortable under their new leaders (1 man, 1 woman).

    Going to be a fun couple of years leading up to the next Swedish GE on 14 September 2014.

    Can’t find the link at the moment, but I think the Red-Green bloc (note: no longer a formal partnership) is on about 49%, with the governing centre-right coalition on about 42%. However, this does not take into account the strong possibility of at least one party failing to make the 4% threshold to get back into the Riksdag.

  14. Having EM as leader is certain to lose Labour some support.

    The only really pertinent question is: how much support?



    Or something in between?

  15. @ Lefty

    “My advice would be to lance the boil now. Have a media offensive that met those facts head on. Be a little self-deprecating. Admit that he doesn’t have swagger and lady-killing charm.

    And then follow it up by pointing out how useless those values turned out to be for Clegg and Cameron in the business of running the country.”

    In politics, one needs charisma or policies (both is a rare bonus in modern times). Pointing out that the others are worse won’t win an election.

  16. As my 11:33 post is still stuck in moderation (presumably Anthony hasn’t had time to check), here’s it re-written in an attempt to avoid whatever the mystery naughty word was. If you look at the Ipsos-MORI tables:

    you’ll see the wording of the question that the Standard is so excited about is: In your opinion, which party leader, David Cameron or Ed Miliband is stronger on each of the following? – Prime Ministerial

    So the implication is that the PM is better at being PM than someone who isn’t. Not a great revelation.

    It’s more interesting to look at is the usual questions that leaders are rated on:

    Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way David Cameron is doing his job as Prime Minister? 34% v 58% = -24

    Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Ed Miliband is doing his job as leader of the Labour Party? 38% v 47% = -9

    Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Nick Clegg is doing his job as Deputy Prime Minister? 23% v 66% = -43

    So on the usual grounds Ed is well “ahead” in the least-unpopular contest.

    Even more revealing, when you look at those “absolutely certain” to vote, the respective scores are -24, -3, -44. Normally this is a filter that normally helps the Conservatives, but here it looks as if greater familiarity – ‘certain’ voters are presumably more likely to know more about politics than average – actually helps Miliband.

  17. @ statgeek

    In politics, one needs charisma or policies (both is a rare bonus in modern times). Pointing out that the others are worse won’t win an election.


    There is a third criteria: that the incumbents have made a absolute and total dogs breakfast of things. But that is pretty rare.

  18. @ The Other Howard,
    ‘Ask DM if he thinks EM is loyal!’

    Do the principles of primogeniture really still apply?

  19. Latest Corby by-election prices:

    Labour 1/14 (PP)
    Conservatives 12/1 (Lad)
    James Delingpole 33/1 (Lad)
    UKIP 66/1 (Hills)
    Liberal Democrats 150/1 (Hills)

    I note that CON are now 11/8 (Ladbrokes) to win Most Seats at the next UK GE. That is from EVS as recently as June. Has the wind now shifted decisively against the Lib-Cons? I suspect that it has.

  20. LE”Aye. And despite looking like a bumbling clown, he always ends up winning against all odds”

    I think the Moscow State Circus might take offence at that comment. ;)

    Seriously though..Winning against all odds? Thanks to the Unions he hatched his way into becoming leader. He’s won a few scrappy by-elections as opposition parties often do and made modest grounds in the locals.

    Labour are well ahead in the polls but Ed isn’t!!!…That’s the problem..


  21. @That Old Bloke

    “Having EM as leader is certain to lose Labour some support.”

    Why ? Seeing as he has led his party to an average 10 point lead in the polls, I cannot see how you can substantiate your comment.

  22. Crikey don’t know what happened there but my last comment was for LEFTYLAMPTON.

  23. There has been a fair bit of comment here of Thatcher’s victory in 1979 despite being less popular than Callaghan, but much less regarding Heath’s success in 1970 when he was way behind Wilson in personal popularity.
    Back in the late 60s by elections were far more commom than they are today largely because PMs did not go to great lengths to avoid them. In the 66-70 Parliament the Tories alone gained 12 seats from Labour – often on massive swings.In April 67 the GLC was captured by a margin of 82 to 18 , and in May 68 the London boroughs of Lambeth , Hackney and Islington fell into Tory hands as well as cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool , Newcastle, Manchester and Norwich.Despite this, Heath lagged well behind Wilson and many Tories had doubts about his prospects at the following election. Whilst the national polls did suddenly swing back to Labour in Spring 1970, we know what happened on polling day in June that year!


    “Unfortunately, the evidence on which one is closer to the truth is not cut and dried. The last three British Election Studies (the major academic study of why people vote at British general elections, based on extensive parallel face-to-face and online polling and key driver analysis of the data) have consistently shown that voters’ opinions of the party leaders is a significant factor in deciding how they vote”

    Maybe the above piece from AW might substantiate what That Old Bloke was saying!!

  25. @Allan Christie

    Labour are well ahead in the polls but Ed isn’t!!!…That’s the problem..


    I think it’s just possible that it’s the other way around, that the problem is that Cameron’s ahead but the Tories aren’t.

    You do realise this isn’t America, right? That people vote for a party, not a president?

  26. Just to put some of this froth about Miliband’s alleged unelectability into perspective, it’s worth remembering that in a MORI poll conducted as recently as May this year, Cameron’s personal ratings were worse than Gordon Brown’s in the run up to the 2010 election. In that May poll he was on -28 and Brown’s worst rating in 2010 was -26.

    Cameron has improved a little since then although today’s YouGov suggests that he’s still pretty unloved, but what it shows us is the fickleness of some of this data. An event here, a public appearance there can swing it around quite markedly and, as Cameron’s stand-alone polling ratings show, Miliband may find he’s up against a very vulnerable politician when he goes head-to-head with him, not a colossus of Blairite or Thatcherite proportions. That makes an awful lot of difference, especially if Cameron appears to be the Tories best shot.

    If Miliband looks beyond this superficially damaging personal polling data, he may see across the floor of the Commons a largely unpopular PM leading a fractious coalition government whose leading figures, as far as I can perceive from the polls, are held in deep disdain by the British public. Very surmountable political mountains lie ahead, I’d say, between now and May 2015.


    “I think it’s just possible that it’s the other way around, that the problem is that Cameron’s ahead but the Tories aren’t.

    You do realise this isn’t America, right? That people vote for a party, not a president?”

    Yes I agree but as the polling evidence has shown, , “opinions of the party leaders is a significant factor in deciding how they vote”

    They might not be voting for a President but Personality?

  28. I am a LP member but think that despite his occassional Flashman moments DC is an OK guy and largely represents the country well as PM.
    Most of his mistakes are due to internal party/coalition pressures (Veto that wasn’t and the climb down for example).
    The major omnishambles stuff has come from him trusting ministers who have let him down and GO being (I don’t want get moderated so lets say ) of doubtful competence.
    It does not surprise me that he outscores EM on most comparitors. Surley Eds task is not necessarily to match DC but is to be good enough so people can see him as a PM, something Kinnock never quite managed but Thatcher did despite Callaghan leading her.

    These polls are useful for Labour as they will help inform the strategy and hopefully also close the gap between EM and DC.
    There wll not be a change of leader before the next GE baring incapacitation or an unlikley major scandal so i wish Hodges would go away and lick his wounds elsewhere.

    I did not vote EM but is doing OK and has held the party together well; my guess is that the united party question would have labour in a comfortable lead.

  29. And yet polls show that if Boris was the Tory leader then people would be more inclined to vote Tory.

    It seems that people are now just used to seeing Cameron as a PM, and even that isn’t actually doing his party any good.

    I really can’t see the Tories winning the next general election unless Boris or David Davies takes over from Cameron and has a completely new cabinet and policies.

  30. JIM JAM

    A totaly reasonable post and one I think most people can find common ground on. :)

  31. I think that people tend to vote either for a party they support or against a party they don’t. Who leads the party is largely irrelevant unless the leader is deeply unpopular then there own party usually gets rid of them. Ed Miliband is a rather bland, uninspiring leader however he has played the government out of touch, and posh boy card well, although this is no substitute for policy, this so far has worked well for Labour. To be fair to the Coalition its much easier to criticise from opposition and take the populist view than make the difficult decisions of government. I still think its far to early to be speaking of a Labour victory nearly three years from the next election even with the latest poll results. Those of us that have seen more elections than we care to remember know how quickly things can turn around for instance the Tories would have won the last election had it not been for a couple of television leader debates which against expectation Clegg convinced the electorate that the Liberals were a alternative to Labour and the rest as they say is history. .

  32. People will take what they like from this polling, but one thing is worth pointing out Cameron is much more popular than his party.

    How this translates at an election who knows. The problem the tories have though is that public sentiment about cameron doesn’t read across to the activists and many backbenchers who still seem to think that a lurch to the far right is what the country wants. Which of course is highly debatable given the evidence of the last election.

    It’s quite a big shift in narrative – before this point, there’s been no hint at an apology because ‘the promise would only count if we had a majority but we’re in coalition’.

    Part of the big problem for Clegg was that the pledge did not mention LD being in Government. It clearly stated that if the next governemnt rasises tuition fees I promise to vote against it (or words to that effect). The statement clearly included the scenario of a coalition of LD and Tories or Labour.
    This is why Clegg is permanently screwed, and apologies will not count (especially one that only apologises for making the pledge not breaking it).
    If Clegg had any sense he would have ‘red-lined’ the pledge and forced Cameron to go along with it. Dave was so desprate to be PM he would have agreed to anything.

  34. @Allan Christie

    Yes I agree but as the polling evidence has shown, , “opinions of the party leaders is a significant factor in deciding how they vote”

    They might not be voting for a President but Personality?


    I do not dispute it’s a factor. But the polling evidence shows it’s not that big of a factor, or Tories would be ahead in the polls.

    Other reasons it’s not that big of a factor include:

    1) Wilson, Callaghan, Major, all well regarded, all lost elections regardless.

    2) It is not simply all about the character of the PM, but his right-hand men. People are rather concerned in particular with the chancellor, and his ratings are through the floor.

    As an aside, do you think Sarah Palin did McCain any favours in the last election?

    3) Ed has been steadily improving his standing with exposure

    4) Most people won’t take the leader all that seriously, unless it’s close, because policies often matter more…

    If you doubt this, look at what happened to Churchill in 1945. I mean, Dear God, you can’t get any more celebrated than that, can you?

    And Cameron is no Churchill

    5) Most people are well aware, because it happens so frequently, that they may well not end up with the leader they supposedly voted for, as they have a habit of changing them mid’-term without us having much of a say. Tories in the fifties and sixties did it, Labour in the seventies, Tories again in the nineties, and labour in the noughties.

    6) It doesn’t matter anyway. Labour’s polling consists mostly of core vote who aren’t going anywhere, being core, and refugees from the Lib Dems.

    They don’t need the Tory vote, which is almost down to core anyway.

    And Tories aren’t going to pinch the Labour core either. Lib Dems are down to core vote too. So it’s a battle over the refugees. Given they are Lib Dem refugees, and Clegg is so reviled, what are the chances of them fleeing Ed for Clegg?

    Equally, given they fled the LDs because of the coalition with the Tories, and are left leaning, are they going to go over to the Tories???

    I mean, maybe I’m missing something but please explain to me how the Tories are going to wind up with the refugees? By convincing them Ed is one of the Lizard people? They’ve already had their fill of “charm and personality” with Clegg, I doubt they’ll be that keen on another dose…

    See, this is the problem. None of the Tory supporters here or elsewhere seem very interested in advocating their record in government. Instead they are hoping to that more “exposure” will lead to some revelation and they’ll catch the opposition leader in some unguarded moment, flicking his lizardy tongue or something.

  35. Amber Star (3:33)

    But we don’t have to just believe what want; we’ve had polls where the leaders are named & even one or two where Johnson was thrown into the mix.

    With Cameron, Miliband & Clegg named, it maxed at about a 3-4 point swing (gap reduced by 6-8) to the Tories, did it not?

    Throwing Boris into the mix brought it close to level pegging, unless I’ve mis-remembered.

    No roughly right. Tables are here:

    though for some reason they aren’t accessible from the Archive.

    Reminding voters of Party leaders didn’t have much effect on headline VI from 31/42/10/8 to 32/40/10/?[1]. Mentioning Cameron still kept 95% of the Conservative vote. Miliband kept 93% of Labour’s with nearly all his loss to non-voting which may be in part a reflection of Labour voters being less engaged. The big loser was Clegg who kept only 84% of the nominal Lib Dem vote – I suspect big losses to the Greens. The Lib Dem sample may have been a bit anomalous as it originally showed them keeping 42% of their 2010 vote[2] and losing only 31% to Labour – the figures are usually closer.

    Of course all Parties would also make some vote gains with the changed question – these are just the losses which are easier to check.

    Introducing Boris into the equation changed the headline VI to 37/38/11 with Boris attracting votes from Labour, Lib Dem and Others and being strongest among the under 25’s and London[3]. However Boris has no effect in Scotland or the North (a previous poll that asked the same questions also showed this effect).

    Anthony has warned us often enough about hypotheticals, so the Boris results should be taken with a pinch of salt the size of Cheshire, but there’s some indication that if there is a negative Miliband effect it is already mostly built into the figures.

    [1] Next time can YouGov please also ask/display the details for Others separately in these circumstance? The shifts between say Con and UKIP or Lib Dem and Green could be interesting.

    [2] Excluding current non-voters.

    [3] This was one of the two false dawn polls where we had a decent under-25 sample. However this had the side-effect of also putting the London sample 36% over quota (compared to 23% in today’s poll or 22% the day before) so there may be a compounding factor here.

  36. @TURK

    You make a good point…IIRC,Sarkozy outpolled Hollande considerably in terms of being strong and charismatic while Hollande was more `in touch` and we all what happened there.And they were voting for President.

  37. And yet polls show that if Boris was the Tory leader then people would be more inclined to vote Tory.

    -If Boris was the leader of the Labour Party no doubt the same people would say they would be more likely to vote Labour.

    This is the Boris factor at work everyone (well most) love a clown

  38. Carfrew. Spot on observations; thanks. Lib Dem refugees are simply not going to go back to supporting Cons in any circumstance. All the Libs I know are left leaning (they love being thought of as ‘radical’). The very best they can hope for is a coalition with Lab. It looks like smarmy Cable and Simon Hughes are kinda banking on it. All a bit previoius of course – May 2015 is a LONG way off

  39. Carfrew – good post & far more eloquently put than I could ever muster.

  40. This is proving to be an interesting thread with lots of nuances being added to the Populus and MORI headline findings suggesting, as is always the case, that these things are never quite as cut and dried as some would like them to be. Anthony hit the nail on the head when he said that those that are convinced that Miliband is a loser will seize on some of this polling data to prove what they always felt, and that was that he was the wrong choice as leader. I call this the Mark Miwurdz tendency who will surface every time some piece of polling supports their pre-stated view. This is the friendly fire from within the party and it is supplemented by Tories and Lib Dems who are convinced Miliband is unelectable and will prove to be their ultimate electoral saviour, no matter how dire things may be for them now. Interestingly, there are thoughtful Tories counselling caution with this slightly complacent assumption but at the moment, especially with the Populus and MORI data informing the debate, theirs are voices not regularly heard.

    Of course, Miliband supporters and loyalists will seize on other bits of data, or hunches sometimes, to argue the opposite, saying that elections are usually decided by other factors and, anyway, a lot of the polling is ambivalent and open to conflicting interpretations.

    The truth of the matter is that we simply don’t know whether Cameron’s supposed current lead over Miliband in terms of leadership qualities will last or, even if it does, will amount to a hill of beans come the General Election, by which time he may well be leading a widely reviled government by then. History provides mixed lessons on all this and while I don’t discount the importance of personality and charisma in politics, we’d be unwise to exaggerate their importance too.

    In many ways, it’s a bit of a silly debate and I’m intrigued, at this particular time in the political calendar, pre Conference, and with Labour enjoying its biggest polling leads of this Parliament, as to why it’s reared its head. If tempted, I could get all Machiavellian about it, but I better not risk testing Anthony’s famed patience or tolerance for now! lol

  41. @ JimJam
    I am a LP member but think that despite his occasional Flashman moments DC is an OK guy and largely represents the country well as PM.”

    (1) I accept that the perceived “niceness” [or not] cians has a heavy influence on VI.
    But do you really think that (a) we can divine whether public figures are “ok guys” & (b) that we should give a damn one way or another?
    (2) Cameron/Osborne share responsibility for the Coalitions’ austere econ. & soc. policies. They are two sides of the same coin.The fact that they present as a good/bad cop duo is irrelevant to the soundness or otherwise of those policies?
    [Snip – AW]
    (4) Do you think DC’s “god guy” characterization can survive the full term?

  42. (1) “of politicians.”

  43. I don’t know if it has been mentioned already, but there was a weekly TNS-BMRB poll released yesterday:

    Labour hold 12 point lead as Lib Dems fall 3 points in their worst poll of 2012. Voting intentions poll shows CON 31% (+1), LAB 43% (+2), LD 9% (-3), OTHER 17% (nc)

    Labour’s lead over the Conservatives increases marginally to 12 points in TNS BMRB’s latest poll but there is bad news for the Liberal Democrats a week before their annual conference in Brighton as they record their lowest poll position since November 2011.

    Individual polls should not be viewed in isolation but it will be interesting to see if this is a mere blip or the start of a worrying downward trend.

    TNS BMRB interviewed a representative sample of 1,206 people between 11th and 13th September, 2012.

    Tables are here:

    and show Others to be:

    SNP 3%
    PC 1%
    Green 4%
    UKIP 5%
    BNP 3%
    Other 1%

    These weekly TNS-BMRB polls are a bit frustrating because they are usually about a week out of date.

  44. That latest TNS/BRMB poll showing a Labour lead of 12% is chiming with the latest YouGovs and more or less most other pollsters now. Maybe that Populus poll showing Labour 15% ahead isn’t quite the outlier it first appeared to be. Another interesting development seems to be a slow but sure edging up of the Labour VI. Many more in the 43-45% range now and, if the trend continues, then it’s starting to look as if the increased Labour leads that we are seeing may be due more to a drift of support in their direction rather than a decline in their opponents ratings.

    Maybe the cunning Labour strategy is that the more they can get the British public to loathe their leader, the more popular the party becomes. Novel but apparently very effective!! lol

  45. For what it’s worth, here’s my (attempted non-partisan) take on the 2015 election. The future is never certain. Let us look at the main deciding factors:

    1) The current leaders will be the 2015 election leaders.

    Very likely. Unless Ed M suffers a major poll shift, he’s going nowhere. Even with a major shift, he’ll be difficult to replace, as there are no other popular candidates. Nick C seems determined to stick in his job, despite his post 2010 polling. I will guess that he will give 2015 a go, then resign soon after if the results aren’t positive. David C is definitely staying. He has one foot in the door of government, and has the most to lose by leaving early.

    2) The economy will be ‘on the up’, if not booming.

    We have seen quite a dramatic shift of polling since September 2011. The Con vote jumped at the veto than slumped following the budget and the subsequent budget u-turns. The SNP popularity of 2011 is down, but the economy of Scotland is doing not too badly (i.e. better than expected), with both sides of the independence argument claiming the credit. The austerity package vs. Plan B is quite possibly the biggest political argument. If the Government implement anything other than austerity, they lose part of the argument (regardless if ‘plan B’ works or not).

    3) Turnout will be higher, but it is important to note the votes too:

    1992: 77.7%, Con: 14,093,007 | Lab: 11,560,484
    1997: 71.4%, Con: 9,600,943 | Lab: 13,518,167
    2001: 59.4%, Con: 8,357,615 | Lab: 10,724,953
    2005: 61.3%, Con: 8,772,598 | Lab: 9,562,122
    2010: 65.1%, Con: 10,726,614 | Lab: 8,609,527

    Note that the votes for 2010 are almost a reversal of the votes in 2001, and also note the difference seat results. The BC change might be Cameron’s biggest problem in that regard. I don’t think he can win an election without them. Try the Electoral calculus site for some numbers.

    However, if turnout increases, the Con votes will increase, but the Lab votes will probably not increase as much.

    Here’s my prediction:

    2015: 68.5%

    As to the spread of VI, I have no idea. :)

  46. I wonder what the odds are on a Labour – Tory coalition after the next election?

  47. A Lab/Tory coalition!? hah, that’s a nightmare scenario.

  48. Robbie, points taken.
    I am a LP member so disagree with many of DCs views but that is pretty irrelevant as my vote is not up for grabs.

    It is clear that DC is running ahead of his party and that on balance he is an electoral asset at the moment and most likely will be at the GE.

    We can’t tell what people are like that is for sure and I should have said comes across to many as a decent guy and I ubderstand why. IMO we lefties have to accept this and decide if we need to adjust our tactics and/or strategy as a result.

    One answer as you imply is that just wait so that eventually policies we think are wrong and ‘unfair’ will catch up with him and he will be seen as being a ‘nasty’ Tory by those crucial swing voters/LD defecters to Labour we need to hold.

    This may happen but I don’t think we can rely on it and whilst of course we (Labour) should try to attach unfairness to the DC persona ensuring EM is acceptabe as an alternative PM by sufficient voters is perhaps more important.

  49. @Graham @Leftylampton @ Norbold.

    Don’t get me wrong I am delighted EM is Labour leader, I was just pointing out that by ” stabbing his brother in the back” EM showed that loyalty was not an appropriate description for him.

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