Members of the public would rather spend Christmas with Cameron than Ed Miliband

End-of-term poll makes mixed reading for the leaders, but the Prime Minister tops the guest list

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Indy Politics

Perhaps he would be more generous with his stocking fillers and choose a smoother wine to go with the turkey. Or maybe the Christmas cracker jokes would be funnier. But whatever the reason, members of the public would rather spend Christmas with David Cameron than Ed Miliband, a poll for The Independent on Sunday has found.

Mr Cameron is also the favourite politician for voters to have on their quiz team and, perhaps more seriously for Mr Miliband, is also the preferred choice for running the country.

But if it’s help in an emergency that voters are looking for, then the Labour leader is seen as better suited. People think he would be more capable than the Prime Minister at giving them first aid.

Voters were asked which politician of the three main party leaders, along with George Osborne and Ukip leader Nigel Farage, would be best in a range of scenarios. Unhappily for Mr Cameron, members of the public also chose him as the politician they would most like to be deported to Australia, and, separately, to be a contestant on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Mr Osborne came bottom in most of thesituations, although he was the politician that most voters would like to handle their financial affairs. On balance, therefore, the Chancellor is unlikely to be troubled by these findings. Many voters say they do not know who they would prefer to spend time with, suggesting political leaders still have difficulty presenting themselves as personable people.

According to an Independent Poll, people would rather spend Christmas with David Cameron rather Ed Miliband

The ComRes poll puts Labour on 36 per cent, seven points ahead of the Conservatives on 29 per cent. The Lib Dems are down two points on the last ComRes poll to 8 per cent, while Ukip remains strong on 18 per cent. If the results were repeated at a general election, Labour would win an 84-seat majority.

Voters say that they do not expect to pay more tax under a Labour government than under a Conservative government – a sign that Tory attempts to warn that Mr Miliband and Ed Balls in Downing Street would raise taxes are not effective.

Exactly the same proportion of people, 30 per cent, think they would pay more tax under Labour than under the Conservatives, while 34 per cent think they would pay less under each party. However among voters aged 65 and over, 45 per cent expect to pay more tax if Labour win in 2015, three times the proportion of those aged 18 to 24 who think so.

At the same time, 38 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds expect to pay more tax under the Conservatives than under Labour. The favourable opinions of younger voters helps explain why Mr Miliband has pledged votes at 16 if he becomes prime minister. But the views of older people suggest that Labour has a reputation issue among those who remember the “tax and spend” governments of the 1970s.

Public services are expected to worsen under a Tory majority government more than under a Labour government – 38 per cent believe this would happen, compared with  24 per cent who say a Miliband government would be detrimental.

In a finding that will alarm the Labour leader’s circle, and fuel concerns that Mr Miliband is a drag on his party, just 21 per cent of people think he will be prime minister after the next election, a drop of 10 points since May this year. However, one in three voters say it is not unlikely that Labour will win the next election – suggesting that, while people expect a Labour victory, they still have difficulty imagining Mr Miliband on the steps of Downing Street. Alarmingly for Mr Miliband, fewer than half – 48 per cent – of Labour voters say it is likely that he will be prime minister after the next election.

The recommendation by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority that MPs should receive an 11 per cent pay rise to £74,000 a year – at a time when wages are falling in real terms for many families – has infuriated voters.

Seven out of 10 people think that £74,000 is an unreasonably high salary for MPs. One in three believe MPs should receive no pay at all, instead being part-time representatives who earn their living from outside interests, while 46 per cent are opposed to this.