Favourability index: Ed Balls more unpopular with Lib Dems than George Osborne

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

96% of Lib Dem members view Ukip unfavourably, compared to 88% for Tories, 72% for Labour and 41% for the Greens

I’m a fan of the polling company ComRes’s ‘Favourability Index’, which asks the public whether they view the parties and their leading figures favourably or not. It gives a much more accurate read-out of perceptions, I think, than asking (for instance) if people think X is doing a good job as leader of Y. After all, it’s quite possible to think that Nigel Farage is doing a pretty good job for Ukip while still never, ever wanting to vote for him.

So I thought I’d try it (again) in our recent survey, asking our sample of Lib Dem members the following question – Please indicate whether you have a favourable or unfavourable view of each of the following political leaders and parties… – about the major parties (Conservative, Labour, Ukip, Green, SNP) and their leaders (Cameron, Miliband, Farage, Bennett, Salmond) as well as the Chancellor / Shadow Chancellor (Osborne / Balls), Home Secretary / Shadow Home Secretary (May / Cooper) and Foreign Secretary (Hammond / Alexander).

Here’s the topline Net Favourability ratings – ie, the total number of people favourably inclined minus those unfavourably inclined. As you’ll see every party and every politician we asked about has a negative net favourability score among Lib Dem members:

ldv fave index sept 2014 - 2

No surprise that Ukip and its leader are viewed most unfavourably – though interesting that Ed Balls is rated less favourably than his opposite number George Osborne.

Overall, Labour (at -63% net favourability) is a little less unpopular among Lib Dems, though pretty much on a par with Theresa May. Ed Miliband, however, is less favourably rated than David Cameron.

The Green Party and its leader Natalie Bennett are the least unfavourably viewed pairing by some distance (though in the case of Bennett only 47% expressed a view at all).

You can see the breakdown of the favourability ratings in the graph below (red denotes unfavourable, green favourable):

ldv fave index sept 2014

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    This entry was posted in LDV Members poll.


    • Eddie Sammon 2nd Oct '14 - 8:25am

      I despair. A party full of hippie sympathisers. .

    • Charles Rothwell 2nd Oct '14 - 8:55am

      Better than a party of the former centre left which swapped over to become a neoliberal bunch of suit-wearing tax-cutters and who have now all but virtually been wiped out in electoral terms at every level (the German FDP). I think the real tragedy of the past few years is that massive mistakes (real or, equally important, perceived) by the LD leadership have led to a massive splintering of the non-socialist centre left with people changing their allegiance in droves to Labour or the Greens (and with the bulk of the “*** all of you!” voters probably now voting for the KIppers and awaiting the paradise of a post-Brexit Dawn which will solve all and every problem at a blow. In my view, the key task (only viable) option if the party is NOT to go the way of the FDP and to rebuild that centre left alignment around it. The Neolibs have had their chance!

    • John Roffey 2nd Oct '14 - 9:13am

      @ Eddie Sammon

      There has been increased recognition that we are destroying a rather beautiful planet [as we approach the age of Aquarius!] and that whereas it was believed that we had 50-60 years to take decisive action to change our habits – this has now been amended to 10-20 years [hopefully].

      Given this analysis – it does, again, rather beg the question as to why the Party is even considering going into coalition again with the Tories when Cameron and Osborne are so roundly disliked.

    • This just makes the Lib Dems look ridiculous. Their best political friends are the Greens yet they much prefer Cameron to Balls? I don’t like Balls, but how can a supposedly Keynesian party (and a left wing one judging by the Green fondness) prefer Cameron and Osborne to Balls. Doesn’t make any sense.

      The problem I think is pride. The Lib Dems did a deal in 2010 and can’t accept the true nature of the people they are dealing with.

    • John Roffey 2nd Oct '14 - 9:55am

      @ Simon Shaw

      No Simon – I agree with you – the Party should not be considering going into another coalition either with the Tories or Labour.

      However, based on the views of the members – perhaps we should be considering a pact or a merger with the Greens!

    • I want to take this opportunity to agree with Simon Shaw– we should not be in coalition with either other party in the 2015 – 2020 parliament.

      Mind you if we are down to less than thirty MPs after May, the only reason why the Conservative party would ask us to join a Coaliton would be to snuff us out altogether as an independent force in UK politics.

      Maybe that was the reason Cameron asked us in 2010 ?? If so he has almost achieved what he set out to do.

    • SmokedKipper 2nd Oct '14 - 10:16am

      It’s a shame the LibDems are so hostile to other points of view. I’d have thought the AV referendum campaign would have taught you that’s not a vote winner. I guess you’ll never learn.

      As for your shameful use of the word “favourability”, I’ll let Trevor McDonald put you right with this clip from Have I Got News For You. Skip to 40 seconds to see what I mean.


    • I am currently sat in my office attempting to think of a politician that Ed Balls would be less unpopular with…….

    • Eddie Sammon 2nd Oct ’14 – 8:25am
      Eddie — When you talk about “A party full of hippie sympathisers. .” do you mean pensioners in their 60’s and 70’s ??

      Sadly it is no longer 1967 and I am now well past my chance to tune in, turn on and drop out.

      To insult the political views of Liberal Democrats in 2014 —- you need to move on from the language of fifty years ago.

    • Eddie Sammon 2nd Oct '14 - 10:41am

      Hi John, I think the term hippie is still used to describe young alternative types today. My thoughts were similar to Frank Booth’s, it is a strange combination to prefer Cameron to Miliband, Osborne to Balls, but Natalie Bennett over everyone!

      I need to finish my break and get back to work anyway. Cya.

    • paul barker 2nd Oct '14 - 12:29pm

      My reasons for disliking Balls so much are that I see him as dishonest & a bully. Actually both those reasons fit Labour as a whole, outweighing any superficial similarities in what they say. Its a lot easier to negotiate with people who openly disagree than with those pretending to be on the same side.

    • Jerry Lonsdale 2nd Oct '14 - 3:15pm

      Balls made the proverbial when he was the Children’s minister back in the days, if he laid out the foundations correctly the house would not have tumbled and we would not have seen of late the likes of Rotherham

    • Mick Taylor 2nd Oct '14 - 7:25pm

      Look very closely at the Greens. They are not democrats. One of their founder members said quite openly at a meeting I was at that if they did get into power they would have to suspend democracy in order the give them time to implement their policies. 10 years was the time he used. Not a party I want to unite with thank-you.

    • Mick Taylor
      Whatever one founding member of the Green Party may have said at a meeting you were one at, I think it is probably unfair to tar all Green party members with that brush.
      Have all those thousands of 2005 Liberal Democrat voters and members who have gone over to The Greens suddenly ceased to be democrats and become authoritarian, I doubt it.
      If we want to attract those people back to the LIberal Dmocrat fold we need to more than insult their intelligence.

      The Clegg / Reeves approach of telling centre left supporters to sling their hook and go join the Labour Party was an equally self defeating approach.

      If we have a great deal in common with The Greens then we should work on that common ground and attract them back to Liberalism.

    • @JohnTilley: As you have evidently missed the message, I must reiterate it for you and for anyone who might be moved by your deceptive “common ground” propaganda.
      It is impossible to find common ground with any other party. This is because They are tribal, illiberal, and authoritarian, while We are democratic and liberally inclined to work with anybody — except, of course, for the Tribal Others. They are fanatics who cannot admit they are ever wrong; We are simply right all the time. They are narrow-minded and exclusive; We are broad-minded and therefore will have nothing to do with Them. They are authoritarians who will bulldoze Their policies through without consensus; We simply expect that everyone will immediately recognize the perfect justice of Our decisions. They use tricks and deceit to get Their way; We simply outwit Them through Our innate cleverness.

    • I hope that this survey was taken before Osborne’s speech. Osborne delivered an evil speech punishing welfare recipients with an income freeze for two years. These people are the poor for goodness sake! How can any so called liberal have anything but complete contempt for the man? How could any civilised voter vote for him? Ed Balls is many things but he is not nasty.

    • Simon Banks 3rd Oct '14 - 7:52pm

      Of course the question is ambiguous. I suspect the very negative view of Ed Balls is mainly about his personality and style of politics. A question asking us to rate the policies of Osborne and Balls would have had a different result, though still not good for Balls because I think the perception is that he’s not being honest.

      As for the Greens, we know well that there’s a considerable overlap between our natural voters and theirs, so it isn’t surprising that they come relatively well out of this. No doubt it also helps that they have no record in government and very little in power locally and many respondents will have little experience of them and little knowledge of their specific policies.

    • Eddie Sammon 31st Oct '14 - 10:44pm

      On the subject of George Osborne. He’s gone up in my estimations. It’s not really political, more personal. All politicians are human and if you get worked up about a policy enough and let the government department know then someone from there might respond. An anonymous responder, but still.


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