Ed Miliband’s personal ratings failing to match popularity of Labour party’s policies
Voters are attracted by the party’s policies – on freezing energy prices and taxing the rich – rather than its leader
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 19 May 2014
Ed Miliband makes four out of 10 people less likely to vote Labour, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent. It suggests that the party’s policies are more attractive to voters than its leader.
Only 6 per cent of people said having Mr Miliband as Labour leader made them more likely to support the party, while 40 per cent said it made them less likely to do so and 53 per cent that it made no difference.
Surprisingly, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of people intending to vote Labour said Mr Miliband made them less likely to do so. Only 11 per cent said he made them more likely to back the party.
Nor is Mr Miliband popular among people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010, many of whom switched to Labour when Nick Clegg took his party into coalition with the Conservatives. More than two in five (44 per cent) said Mr Miliband made them less inclined to back Labour, and only 6 per cent more likely to do so.
However, there is better news for Labour in the voting intention figures. The survey gives Labour a five-point lead, in line with the six-point advantage it enjoyed in last month’s ComRes poll for this newspaper.
Labour is now on 35 per cent (down one point); the Conservatives on 30 per cent (unchanged); Ukip on 14 per cent (up two points); the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent (down one point) and others on 13 per cent (unchanged).
Read more: Comment: European elections will be the crest of Farage's power
‘Labour just makes empty promises. All I’ve got left is Ukip’
The record of the previous Labour Government is also a barrier to voting for the party. Some 38 per cent of people say it made them less likely to vote Labour, with 9 per cent thinking it made them more likely to do so and 52 per cent believing it made no difference.
Even current Labour supporters are divided: 20 per cent said the party’s record made them more likely to vote for it and 19 per cent less likely. However, 32 per cent of people said Labour’s proposals for government, such as freezing energy prices and raising the top rate of income tax, made them more inclined to support the party, while 17 per said it made them less inclined to do so and 50 per cent that it made no difference.
More people (19 per cent) said the rise in Ukip’s popularity made them more likely to vote Labour than believed it made them less likely to support Mr Miliband’s party (14 per cent), with 65 per cent saying it made no difference.
The Labour leader’s poor personal ratings worry some of his MPs. Tom Mludzinski, head of political polling at ComRes, said: “Labour is still holding onto a stubborn lead in the polls, with the Conservatives unable to make significant inroads. That lead appears, however, to be despite Ed Miliband leading the party and not because of it. Although the party’s policies gain some traction, the public remain unconvinced by his leadership.”
But Labour officials played down the findings, saying they reflected a polarised electorate in which Labour and Tory supporters strongly dislike the other party and both parties chase people who intend to vote for the Lib Dems, Ukip or the Greens.
A separate ComRes survey for ITV News among people certain to vote in Thursday’s European elections shows Labour (27 per cent) behind Ukip (33 per cent), with the Conservatives trailing on 20 per cent and the Lib Dems on 7 per cent.
ComRes interviewed 1,008 GB adults by telephone between May 16 and 18. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and also weighted by past vote recall.
Labour wants next year’s general election to be a “choice of two visions” for the country, while the Tories want to make it largely “a choice of two prime ministers”.
A separate poll for Lord Ashcroft, the Tories’ former deputy chairman, on general election voting intentions gives Labour a six-point lead. Labour is on 35 per cent (up three points since last week), the Conservatives on 29 per cent (down five points), Ukip down one point at 14 per cent, and the Lib Dems unchanged on 9 per cent.
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