John Curtice: Hacking scandal makes Miliband less unpopular

Yet the hacking scandal has not fundamentally changed the electoral landscape
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The Independent Online

Ed Miliband received good reviews for his performances during the hacking scandal. Voters have noticed.

Every pollster has recorded an improvement in the Opposition Leader's ratings. Across the varied measures they obtain, his net satisfaction rating now stands at minus 14. Last month it was minus 22, his worst since becoming Labour leader.

In contrast, David Cameron's uncertain response to the scandal, complicated by his association with the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, has done him no good at all. His average rating has slipped from minus seven to minus 12.

The Prime Minister is now less popular than at any time since he arrived at 10 Downing Street. He is far less popular than Tony Blair or John Major after just over a year in the job, though he remains ahead of Gordon Brown. Yet the hacking scandal has not fundamentally changed the electoral landscape. Mr Miliband's ratings have simply returned to the modest level they were at in the spring. He remains relatively unpopular. At 40 per cent, Labour's standing in our latest poll of polls is unchanged.

Meanwhile, although the Tories' rating has slipped to 35 per cent, the party is still in no worse a position now than it was last winter. It is a slippage from which it might reasonably hope to recover. If the scandal has benefited anyone, it has been the Liberal Democrats. A few weeks in the political shade has seen their rating edge up to 12 per cent, while Nick Clegg's own ratings are now a little less calamitous. But eventually they will have to prove they can withstand the sun.

The author is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University