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Theresa May morphing into 1979 Margaret Thatcher in eyes of public, poll finds

Polling data on pair shows similar ratings on honesty, narrowmindedness and being 'out of touch'

Wednesday 27 July 2016 10:09 BST
Ms May quietly scrapped the post during her Cabinet appointments
Ms May quietly scrapped the post during her Cabinet appointments (Peter Macdiarmid/LNP)

Theresa May is viewed by the public as resembling the Margaret Thatcher of 1979, according to new research.

Polling data by YouGov on the current Prime Minister has been analysed in relation to Ipsos Mori data on how former leader Ms Thatcher was viewed at two different points – just before her election in April 1979 and six years into her premiership, in October 1985.

Analysis shows Ms May is within three percentage points of th 1979-era Ms Thatcher in five out of eight criteria.

Public perception of the pair being “out of touch” was 24 per cent and 25 per cent, and other similarities were seen in those that perceive them both as “narrow minded” (16 per cent/13 per cent), “understanding the UK’s problems” (32 per cent/34 per cent), “honest” (24 per cent/21 per cent) and “down to earth” (21 per cent/24 per cent).

Ms May, however, is seen as more like the Ms Thatcher of 1985 in two ways – as a “capable leader” (40 per cent/39 per cent) and “inexperience” (9 per cent/2 per cent).

But when rated on “talking down to people”, Ms May fares much better than her late fellow Tory – only 16 per cent believes she is like that, whereas the 1979 Ms Thatcher scored 31 per cent and an even greater 49 per cent in 1985.

Theresa May: Tories and women

The research notes: “The two areas which Theresa May matches the elder Thatcher are on capability as a leader and experience – in both cases areas where you would expect a person’s performance to improve with time.

“The areas in which she matches the younger Thatcher, however, are personality based and areas which you would expect to see decline the longer a politician is incumbent.

“In this sense, Theresa May has the best of both worlds: her governmental capability and experience are acknowledged by voters, whilst the negative personal perceptions associated with a lengthy incumbency are not present – at least yet.”

Last week a poll found Theresa May is seen as less of a natural leader than David Cameron was at the same time in his premiership

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