With all attention on the coalition, it’s unsurprising that media coverage of opinion polls has been more focused on the Tories and Lib Dems than on Labour. For this reason, Ed Miliband’s far from overwhelming ratings have remained largely under the radar in recent months.
Also there is an element of giving the man a chance, given he only began work as Labour leader in September.
ComRes did a poll for ITV News this week; it asked people if they trusted certain politicians to “see the country through the current economic situation“.
David Cameron scored 38 per cent and George Osborne was on 25 per cent; hardly an amazing score by any yardstick. Yet Ed Miliband was even further behind on 17 per cent with Ed Balls on 14 per cent.
This might strike you as peculiar given that the public now seem split over whether the deficit should be cut as fast as the coalition intends; if anything a slight majority now urge slower progress, apparently. But Labour officials and MPs should be nervous; Miliband has an uphill task to convince the public that he is a safe pair of hands.
Other polls this week also offer little in the way of comfort. YouGov suggests that the perception of Miliband lags behind Cameron on seven personal measures (such as is he ‘strong’, ‘good in a crisis’ or a ‘natural leader’) and was only ahead on one; ‘in touch with ordinary people’s concerns.’
Now this Populus poll for the Times – repeated on Politicshome - suggests that the public see Miliband as indecisive, weak, and even “weird“. Cameron, by contrast, has a different set of negative attributes; out-of-touch, ruthless, smug and “doesn’t listen”. But as the PH website explains, the negative perceptions of Miliband (and Clegg, also seen as weak and out of his depth) are felt more strongly than those of Cameron.
Meanwhile I’ve been speaking to plenty of Labour MPs since last Friday; some, especially those up north, seem fairly relaxed about the election results. Many others are worried: “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap,” was the assessment of one former minister. “****ing awful,” was from another.
Ivan Lewis, the Blairite shadow culture secretary, warned in a speech last night that Labour was increasingly beeing seen as a party for northerners, poor people and immigrants – rather than aspiring southern middle classes. At the last minute he withdrew a line saying that there was a public perception that Labour had not spent money wisely while in office. I can only presume that he was leant on to omit that sentence from the speech.