Pollwatch – State of the Leaders: Clegg -25%, Cameron -6%, Miliband -10% (April 2011)

Yesterday, Pollwatch looked at the current state of the parties; today it’s the turn of the party leaders, Messrs Clegg, Cameron and Miliband.

As with all polls, what follows comes with caveats. Five of the polling companies – YouGov, Ipsos-Mori, ComRes, ICM and Angus Reid – ask questions specifically to find out the public’s views of the party leaders. And each asks variants on the basic question – do you think Clegg/Cameron are doing a good job – to come up with their figures, so comparison ain’t easy. For that reason, I’m taking a 3-month rolling average which isn’t very statistically ‘pure’, but will give us a rule of thumb. Besides, we don’t indulge in polls that often, so here goes …

  • Cameron 44% well, 50% badly (net -6%); Miliband 33%, 46% (-13%), Clegg 28%, 63% (-35%)
    (YouGov: Do you think (name) is doing well or badly as (position)?)
  • Cameron 41% approve, 51% disapprove (net -10%); Miliband 34%, 41% (-7%); Clegg 32%, 58% (-26%)
    (Angus Reid: Do you approve or disapprove of of (name)’s performance as Y…)
  • Cameron 40% satisfied, 52% dissatisfied (net -12%); Miliband 36%, 41% (-5%); Clegg 33%, 56% (-23%)
    (Ipsos MORI: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way X is doing his job as Y?)
  • Cameron 47% good, 42% bad (net +5%); Miliband 30%, 43% (-13%); Clegg 33%, 51% (-18%)
    (ICM: Do you think X is doing a good job or a bad job?)
  • Cameron 38% good, 43% bad (net -5%); Miliband 22%, 35% (-13%); Clegg 28%, 49% (-21%)
    (ComRes: Do you think X is turnng out to be a good leader of Y?)

Which gives us an average net popularity – and, yes, I know how unscientific such averages are – as follows:

    David Cameron -6%; Ed Miliband -10%; Nick Clegg -25%

David Cameron

I suggested in yesterday’s that it was the Tories who had most to be pleased with from the current polls. Well, today I’d also say Mr Cameron is sitting most comfortably, the most popular least unpopular of the three party leaders. Though his personal figures are negative, he is consistently scoring +40% ratings, no small feat for the man presiding over the biggest public spending cuts in recent history.

Nick Clegg

It is instead Nick Clegg who is bearing the brunt of the public’s Coalition kicking, with a net negative rating of -25%. For the man who less than a year ago was more popular than Churchill it’s some comedown. However, it’s worth looking behind the headline figures because what’s clear is not that Nick is universally reviled, but that he’s a divisive figure.

Put simply, he’s popular with most Tory voters, and a majority of Lib Dem voters — and deeply unpopular with Labour voters. ICM’s figures show 63% of Tory and 51% of Lib Dem voters reckon Nick is doing a good job (compared with 27% and 41% who think he’s doing a bad job) — but 76% of Labour voters think he’s doing a bad job, more even than think David Cameron is doing a bad job! (It’s an irony probably not lost on either of them that Cameron is more popular with Lib Dem voters than Nick is.)

Ed Miliband

And what of Ed(ward) Miliband? Well, truth be told, he’s not enjoyed a great start. Six months into the job — his honeymoon — and though three-quarters of the public have made up their minds they are breaking narrowly but decisively against him.

This failure to connect is being picked up by the Westminster commentariat, but more worryingly for Labour also by the public, with 40% believing he’s not up to the job (compared with 27% who think he is).

That Mr Miliband’s notorious Hyde Park speech coincided with the violent minority offshoot of last weekend’s ‘March for the Alternative’ was bad luck; the same could’ve happened to Charles Kennedy in the 2003 anti-Iraq war protest. What should worry Labour more is the three-fold impression being cast in the minds of voters that:

    1) Labour is interested only in defending its core public sector interests but has nothing to say to those in the private sector (see the Economist’s Bagehot on this);
    2) it has no alternative — or if it does, it differs very little from what the Coalition is doing (after all Labour’s cuts would simply have taken place over 8 years rather than 5, the financial equivalent of pulling a plaster off your knee more slowly: spreading the pain rather than getting it over and done with); and
    3) Mr Miliband is a follower not a leader — he owed his election victory not to ordinary Labour party members, but to trade union barons, and now he’s rowing-in behind the UKUncut alliance. Though it may pain we Liberals to admit it, the public wants strong leadership more than it wants to like its leaders.

Mr Miliband has many factors still in his favour. First, he has a poll lead and a generally united party (albeit united against Coalition policies rather than in favour of their own). Secondly, that poll lead, combined with years of disastrous local election results, will mean Labour makes hefty gains this May which will help make him look a winner. Thirdly, there is no mechanism within the Labour party (unlike either the Tories or Lib Dems) to get rid of an unfit leader. And finally, any leader takes time to grow into the job, and it is far too soon to judge him a success or a failure: he is what everyone should expect a party leader to be 6 months in — a work in progress.

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8 Comments

  • As a Wigan Athletic supporter, Ed Milliband reminds me rather of Roberto Martinez. When Roberto was appointed, I really, really wanted it to work out, I tried so hard to convince my self that my doubts were just cynicism and that Roberto could make the step up and the dreamers were onto something. However reality kicked in and Roberto was indeed the terrible choice I always deep down knew he was. That is about where I am on Ed M – really wanted it to work, but it will never come good however much good will there is. Just as Wigan should have gone for the steady hand of a man with Prem experience, perhaps a Chris Hughton, so Labour (or more precisely, the Unions) picked the wrong Milliband.

    On the Coalition, the interesting point is, ‘63% of Tory and 51% of Lib Dem voters reckon Nick is doing a good job.’ Divisive indeed. I would posit therefore that Nick Clegg is perhaps the Ian Holloway of party leadership – looked good at the lower levels, led the club/party to the Promised Land, but somehow it just has turned a bit sour and the future looks shaky and uncertain, with Vince Cable as Roy Hodgson or possibly even Gerrard Houllier. One suspects that a Kenny Dalglish might have to be called on in the future should the fans turn.

    That leaves Cameron. Certainly no Alex Ferguson. Perhaps a Carlo Ancelotti. Like Chelsea, somehow he is not making the whole equal the sum of the parts. The financial situation at Chelsea is certainly not as bad as some of the doom-mongers suggest. But a tendency to panic act on HE fees or Fernando Torres undermined both Cameron and Ancelotti at times.

    Ah the power of metaphor.

  • 3) Mr Miliband is a follower not a leader — he owed his election victory not to ordinary Labour party members, but to trade union barons,

    Stephen, Remind me, which voting system was used to elect Miliband as Labour leader? AV wasn’t it? and
    I take it as a loyal (forgive anything Clegg does) Lib Dem that you support AV so why the side swipe at how Labour elects it’s Leadership? or is it just that you dislike organisations that represent employees?
    Don’t get me wrong I actually agree with your assessment but I just wish you weren’t so tribal about it.

  • paul barker 5th Apr '11 - 1:01pm

    I thought it would be useful to compare support for the leaders with support for their Parties, expressed at the last GE.
    Con Lab Libdem
    38-47% 22-36% 28-33%
    37% 30% 24%
    +1-10% -8 to +6% +4-9%

    So, if we ignore Comres which seems to be an outlier all the main Parties seem to be doing as well as each other with the Coalition Parties performing slightly better than Labour.
    The big difference is in dissaproval, not approval.

  • paul barker 5th Apr '11 - 1:04pm

    Well, dont know what happened there, I had the figures spread out. You will just have to take my word for the conclusion.

  • Being in coalition with the Tories makes me deeply unhappy at times but it also makes me admire Clegg and our band of MP’s all the more. They could have sat on the sidelines last May and then attacked a weak Tory government from the wings at a time when the country needed a stable government, they did not do that, they took the brave course, the right course at that moment in time which also saved us from another election, an election that would have proved economically disastrous to the country not to mention our own coffers.
    What these ratings say to me is that our MP’s are doing the right thing for the right reasons rather than taking what would have been the easy course and in the short term the more populist one.
    If the coalition get it right and the country emerges with a stronger economy and a fairer society then even if we do take a kicking at the polls I will still believe we did the right thing and I believe that Nick, Vince and Co also believe that. I accept that there are no guarantees that we will take credit for the goods things and that we won’t be punished for the things that go wrong but if what we do is the right thing for the country then that in the end is what we will be judged on.
    I have one real hang up right now and that is that WE have done some really good things in nearly a year but we are rubbish at bigging ourselves up, getting the positives out there and telling our story. We must not be afraid up annoying Tory high command if doing so means the public knows we are fighting from within for a better country as opposed to snipping from the wings.

  • Chris Riley 5th Apr '11 - 3:47pm

    What are the chances of two fans of the mighty Latics on the same thread?

    Sorry, Duncan, you’re completely wrong about Super Bob (and Jonah). If we couldn’t give a promising manager who loves Latics more than any flash-in-the-pan flavour of the month a go, there’s no point to the club any more. Under Hughton, we’d be down now, just as we’d be down now if Bruce had stayed.

    (I promise you there is relevance coming up)

    We were always going to get relegated at some point, just as Labour were always going to be in Opposition. What Labour, like Wigan, need is someone who understands the supporters properly, and who the supporters can get behind and, particularly, someone who understands those people who haven’t just got on board since the club/party became successful. Who do you want in the Championship? Someone who isn’t going to leg it because they don’t fancy the job? Nope, you need someone with the same values.
    Now, to my mind, that’s not Ed. Ed’s the man who got the job by accident because powerful people decided he should have it. Ed’s Alan Pardew. He’s probably out of his depth, but he’ll do an honest job to the best of his ability.

    Nick Clegg isn’t Olly. He hasn’t done it the hard way, slogging through the lower echelons and taking unfashionable contenders to the top. He’s there because he looked like the right man to finish the job even though other people did all the really hard work. You’re looking at a manager who’ll say all the right things to court the media but who might not necessarily have the skills to back it up. Sorry, but Gordon Strachan it is.

    Cameron’s not Ancelotti, a seasoned veteran. Cameron is a youngster given the job of guiding a huge club who looks plausible but might not be up to it. Mancini looks like the best analogy, except it’s hard to imagine a football club less like the Tories than Man City (Latics have an all-powerful, bloody-minded money man behind them who is fond of the Carribbean – probably not the first time Kaiser Dave is compared to Lord Ashcroft).

    Anyway, all this is entirely irrelevant really, except for me to say we’re staying up Duncan, and if Bob ain’t our manager next season, than all I can say is I bloody hope it’s Rotherham’s new gaffer we get to replace him…..

  • Chris Riley – I fear I can not agree. Martinez had disaster written all over him (as does Ed M). Loving either Wigan Athletic or Labour is simply not enough, though some might be impressed and keep dreaming. Relegation for Wigan was far from inevitable, look at the position under Bruce. Similarly, there is no reason why Labour will decline, but they will need a more experienced man at the helm. As Roberto is most certainly not the man to strip down and systematically rebuild a defeated, relegated club, neither is Ed M the man to do likewise in the political realm. Like Labour, Wigan will not find a future by hankering for good old days that never were or appealing to nothing but the core. The fans were never truly behind either Bruce or Blair, yet both produced undeniable results the envy of many.

    The truth is that Roberto finished no higher than eigth in the Championship and was promoted beyond his ability by people who were dreaming. A bit like promoting the Climate Change Minister to party leadership – both will end dissolved in hot tears. Hanker as I do for a Martin O’Neil or even a Rafa Benitez to come to town it won’t happen and I suspect that David M feels the same right now.

    As for Clegg and Holloway, well Clegg did slog through the lowly ranks of the MEPs, though certainly he never took anyone to the top. Granted, Holloway-like he may just have finished others’ work rather than do much himself. Perhaps, given your views about media/skills the better comparison for Clegg would be Kev Keegan. Had everyone really excited for a while and looked great, but stumbled at the critical moment and left the fans looking to the familiarity of a Souness.

    Cameron certainly does not have the experience of an Ancelotti – true. Whilst club-UK as a club is not in as dire straits as some would have us believe (no 10 point deduction from the ratings agencies), the fact is that Mancini can buy his way to victory as Cameron perhaps can’t. Perhaps then Cameron is a Harry Redknapp. Loved in the south, annoys anyone north of Zone 6 on a London Underground map. He has been able to leverage money-men and bring in some unlikely buys that don’t always look coherent. Or perhaps even Alex McLeish – the money men behind him want a big prize, but all that was delivered was the League Cup of coalition senior-partnership. He has a team with some decent old-stagers, but who play like cloggers with nothing new, just the horrible, old-school stuff that belongs to a time gone by.

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