The ‘Favourability Index’: the Tories and Cameron lead, Lib Dems half as popular as Ukip

I’m a fan of polling firm ComRes’s ‘Favourability Index’ which asks of political parties and their leaders ‘How favourable or unfavourable are you to X?’ For sure it’s a simplistic binary. But, then, so’s voting.

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.

The latest index has been published today across the Independent and Mirror. The (perhaps) surprising result is that the winners are the Conservative Party and David Cameron, both viewed more favourably than their rivals.

The bad news for Lib Dems is that the party is viewed favourably by just 13% of voters, half the proportion which view Ukip favourably.

Interestingly, all four leaders trail their own parties in the UK (and Alex Salmond trails the SNP too).

I’ve re-sorted the data to arrange the parties and their leaders ComRes asked about in descending order of favourability. Those Lib Dems wanting to avoid the results should look away now…

comres favourability index - aug 2014

* 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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  • Robert Harvey 24th Aug '14 - 4:36pm

    That chart is a terrible indictmemt of politics in the UK. Dislike/distrust dominates e,very column. We need new elites, new parties, new structures to engage people ahain, or parliament is doomed.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Aug '14 - 5:16pm

    No, we need to rid ourselves of all powerful elites within our ‘democratic’ institutions!

    Yes, an indictment of the current state of British politics but in my opinion an equally powerful indictment of our ‘free’ press.

    The corrosive cynicism and blatant defence of the status quo routinely undertaken much of this industry against the body politic should not be ignored.

  • paul barker 24th Aug '14 - 5:18pm

    As steven points out theres a consistent pattern of Party Leaders being slightly behind their Parties, with one glaring exception. For the Libdems the leader is 1% behind, 2% for the Tories , 3% for UKIP but for Labour the Leader is 10% behind. That ties with the difference between favour & “Voting Intention”. The Tories are 3% behind their Polling average, The Libdems 4% ahead & Labour 9% behind. The great mystery of British Polling is why so many Voters “intend” to go for Labour when they dont like their Leader or trust them on The Economy.
    The explanation is that Voters are very poor at predicting their own behaviour, right now the question of who to vote for next May doesnt yet seem “Real”.

  • Paul in Wokingham 24th Aug '14 - 5:22pm

    It’s worth adding one interesting delta: the “net favourability” of the Lib Dems has fallen by 9% since February 2014. The number for the Tories is +4% in the same period. That decline reflects the loss in support in VI polls over the same period.

    All of this is simply reinforces what we already know: the public don’t trust Mr. Clegg. If there is a “perception problem” with the political classes then Mr. Clegg is the exemplar.

    Like I keep saying, where we retain seats next year it will be due to the local reputation of the MP and the motivation and hard work of local party members. Those seats will be won in spite of Nick Clegg and Ryan Coetzee – not because of them.

  • @Paul Barker

    “The great mystery of British Polling is why so many Voters “intend” to go for Labour when they dont like their Leader or trust them on The Economy.”

    Great mystery – really? In all probability I will have a choice between 3 candidates at the next election. None of them will represent accurately my views, or desires – I intend to go for the one I find least antipathetic. At this point I’ll probably fall into line with “so many Voters”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '14 - 8:46am

    @ paul barker,
    I agree.

    Just within my circle of acquaintance, there is an uncertainty as to who to vote for at the moment. These are [people like myself who did not feel quite so confused about what the various parties stand for now.

    When the different parties publish their manifestos and start to argue them perhaps things will change.

    @ Bolano,
    I don’t think from my experience that people don’t like Ed Miliband, despite the lashing he gets from the press. It is more of a problem that he seems to come up with good ideas but he doesn’t join them up in an overarching vision of what Britain would be like under a Labour Party led by him. It is a clarity of vision and of what sort of society we we would have under Labour or indeed the Lib Dems that seems to be missing.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Aug '14 - 9:48am

    This Comres information is as near to useless as any data can be. In a media-dominated country, four political parties’ ‘standings’ and those of the Parties they ‘lead'(sic) are virtually identical. Surprise? Noo.

    The Labour standing is 10 per cent higher than that of its leader. Why? Because in 95 per cent of the country, Labour is seen as the only logical (and possibly succesful) route to oppose the Conservative Coalition. They could be led by a Koala bear and still get that support level. Of course, the tighter media focus on the Party Leaders in the last 2 or 3 months before the election MAY cause some of those diddling in the middle to stick with Cameron. If any of them vote Lib Dem, outside of a handful of seats, it will probably be as useless to their own intentions as it will be to the Lib Dems.

  • I would suggest rather than obsessing about which party is more liked than its leader, or which leader is more liked than their party, you should get real.

    The cosy concensus, and the decades of silence on the core issues that concern the electorate has ended, and when the GE arrives next year, hoping you can continue to ignore their concerns and they will go away, will no longer be an option. You are going to be forced into confronting and defending your position on a range of policies you would rather not talk about.

    1. The EU
    2. Immigration
    3.Overseas Aid
    4. Green Energy
    5. Climate Change
    6, Grammar Schools
    7. A parliament for England
    8. EHCR
    8 . Removing the passports and citizenship of those who wish us harm if they leave the country to join groups like ISIS, whether they were born here or not.

    Perhaps you might be better served discussing how you are going to convince the majority electorate, to vote against everything they currently stand for.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '14 - 2:40pm

    @ Raddiy,
    From your list it looks like you are advocating that people vote conservative. The right wing of the party have been arguing for these things for years.

    When you say that those who go abroad and join Isis should lose their passports, you seem to be saying what David Davis is saying ( albeit he is saying that this should happen after a trial).

    The Conservative Party seems to have more chance of winning the election in 2015 so it makes sense to vote for them if people they want more of a chance that the things on your list will be introduced.

  • @ Jayne ( and all Lib Dems ? )
    Purely out of interest, is there a policy, even Lib Dem official view, about ISIS ‘returners’, who have British citizenship?

  • paul barker 25th Aug '14 - 3:57pm

    If you add up the approval ratings for the 5 Parties mentioned it comes to 95%. I see no evidence of overwhelming cynicism or apathy there. What the figures do show is Britains tribalism, approving your own lot & dissing the rest. The big exception are Labour with only half their “Voters” approving their own Leader & only three quarters their own Party.
    In contrast we have more Approvers than Voters, another sign that VI Polls underestimate our support.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Aug '14 - 4:05pm

    a personal view:

    naturalised citizens who retain another citizenship should certainly have their british citizenship revoked id they are convicted of terrorist involvement.

    the problem here is getting convictions using civilian standards of justice; it’s extremely difficult. and yet, i do not want to live next to these people. for this reason i hope that RAF/SAS efforts to combat ISIS do so with absolutely no regard to the citizenship of those in need of having their ‘capabilities degraded’.

    the only ones i want to see back are those for whom the CPS thinks it has a good chance at securing a conviction.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '14 - 4:33pm

    @ jedibeeftrix,
    Again a personal view,

    I share your view and indeed that of David Davis.

    Those who have involved themselves in barbaric atrocities have made their choice.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '14 - 4:45pm

    @ John Dunn,
    I can’t answer your question, but I believe that the leader of the Lib Dems is not at liberty to make policy ‘on the hoof’, the party has always seemed more democratic than that.

    Like most people I have always voted for the party that most seemed to represent my values and views and there is never a perfect match. I agreed with control orders and was unhappy when they were ‘watered down’ by the coalition.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Aug '14 - 5:04pm

    @paul barker

    ” we have more Approvers than Voters, another sign that VI Polls underestimate our support.”

    TOTALLY incorrect. An awful lot of people vote tactically against their least-liked party or candidate. . They are more likely to abandon their favoured party when that party is doing poorly in the polls Accordingly, our support in 90 per cent of seats may well be even less than the polls show. Furthermore, it will make no difference to the number of seats won by Lib Dems which will largely be determined where there are tight and trusted local Lib Dem teams.

  • @ Jedi

    “the only ones i want to see back are those for whom the CPS thinks it has a good chance at securing a conviction.”

    Only if they then get extradited to the US who have s less sentimental attitude towards terrorists in prison. Here they will simply radicalise the next generation of petty criminals into the ways of jihad, before being released and told to wear a plastic ankle bracelet.

    We are so soft in this country. If Adolf and Eva sneaked onto a lorry and claimed asylum on the grounds that their right to a family life was imperilled by the Soviets, you just know they would get a million pound council flat in Maida Vale living a life of luxury at the taxpayers expense… 🙁

  • @ Jayne Mansfield

    ” From your list it looks like you are advocating that people vote conservative.”

    Not sure how you arrive at that conclusion. Historically ignoring the views of the public on all of those issues are just as much a problem for the Lab and Con parties as they are for the LibDems, the difference in 2015 is that UKIP will make sure the public know where you all stand.

    The question:
    1. Do you ignore the new reality and carry on hoping nobody will notice, and that you can con the public by omission.
    2. Do you stand openly four square behind your current positions on these issues, publicly defy the electorate and accept the electoral consequences.
    3. Do you accept that there is a new reality and change.

    You only have to look at the rump of the old Liberal Party to see how the future pans out for Luddites.

  • suspect raddiy may be a kipper – much the same thing as the Tory right of course (although it fails me how labour cannot even get that message across).

  • Yes, Raddiy, option two. We do intend to stand up for our beliefs and for the liberal, democratic principles that underpin the very values that we are supposed to be defending in opposition to the likes of ISIS.

    And if you and your fellow fifties throwback anglo-putinist UKIP types don’t like it, well, isn’t that just a crying shame.

    I never understood people who think that democracy is about bending the leader to fit the transitory desires of the loudest subgroup of the electorate for the sole purpose of getting elected. It doesn’t work, for one thing. Oh, sure, you can get elected, but the sort of leaders you end up with, well. Political leadership requires authentic figures willing to endure their time in the wilderness for holding to unpopular beliefs. Such people don’t win every election, but they make things happen when they do, and that is what keeps the democratic process alive, relevant and respected.

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