Tom Smithard, the Lib Dems’ Parliamentary Campaigns & Intelligence Analyst, has been compiling an occasional polling report – collating interesting material from published polls and providing a bit of commentary – for internal use within Cowley Street since he started working for the party this summer. We’re publishing his latest assessment in two parts: yesterday focused on the Lib Dems’ poll ratings; today, the second anniversary of Nick Clegg’s election as Lib Dem leader, Tom looks at Nick’s personal ratings as leader.
Firstly, some very good news: for the first time Nick Clegg has scored higher than David Cameron on YouGov’s leader-rating question, asked every month on behalf of the Sunday Times. This means that Nick is now the most popular leader with the panels of both pollsters who regularly ask variants of the question, YouGov and Ipsos Mori. This is something worthy of celebration, and a great riposte to anyone criticising our leadership.
Here’s the comparator from the YouGov polls of the last few months:
Is X doing well / badly (total) as leader?
Sep 13 – Brown: 26 / 70 (-44); Cameron: 59 / 31 (+28); Clegg: 44 / 27 (+17)
Oct 18 – Brown: 28 / 67 (-39); Cameron: 58 / 31 (+27); Clegg: 44 / 31 (+13)
Nov 15 – Brown: 28 / 67 (-39); Cameron – 57 / 33 (+24); Clegg: 42 / 30 (+12)
Dec 13 – Brown: 28 / 68 (-42); Cameron: 52 / 38 (+14); Clegg: 45 / 30 (+15)
As we can see, David Cameron’s approval ratings have fallen off a cliff – halving in just three months. Both Nick and Gordon Brown have remained relatively steady during the same period, which just shows how much pressure Cameron is under now his party is facing proper scrutiny.
Labour’s crude attacks on Cameron’s schooling do not hit home (70% say his going to Eton does not make a difference) but people are more likely to agree with statements along the lines of Cameron’s privilege has left him out-of-touch and unable to represent “ordinary” people.
Until recently the Tories have believed that, no matter how unpopular their policies or frontbench team, in David Cameron they had a strong electoral asset. That is why he has acted almost as a lone spokesman for the party with few others allowed to announce policy.
The shine has come off Cameron under sustained scrutiny – the closer we get to the election the more the public are thinking about what Cameron would be like as prime minister. They are not liking what they see.
Without Cameron as an electoral asset the Tories are left with very little other than a popular slogan in “Time for Change”. This is where Nick’s likability becomes a huge asset for us – we can both promise change and an acceptable figurehead to lead it.
A question asked by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph on what election result do people want to see also makes for interesting reading. There was no option for ‘a Lib Dem government’ but 36% of people wanted a coalition featuring us. That compares with 27% wanting a Tory govt and 19% wanting Labour. There is clearly a big desire to see the Liberal Democrats in power – it would be useful if pollsters could include us as an option in future to get the most accurate reflection!
On the economy and the Pre-Budget Report, a succession of polls shows there is a strong desire among the general public for a more progressive system of taxation in which the rich – particularly bankers – pay their fair share.
While Labour have their one-off bankers’ bonus tax, which polled very well, only the Lib Dems would introduce a systematic package of measures to achieve greater fairness in taxation. I’m confident these will poll very well. It’s a shame people aren’t being given these options alongside Tory and Labour policy, but by the election knowledge of our fair tax package will have trickled through and – judging from both recent economic polling and our opponents’ muted attacks upon it – is certain to become a big vote winner for us.