Jeremy Corbyn’s leader image ratings improve since last conference season, Theresa May’s get worse
Jeremy Corbyn leads on honesty, personality, likeability and less out of touch, Theresa May ahead on patriotism, capable leader and good in a crisis
The British public’s view of Theresa May’s attributes as a leader has fallen since last September, according to the latest Ipsos Political Monitor. The new poll on the eve of party conference season reveals that belief in Mrs May as a capable leader has fallen 23 points since September 2016 to 45%, while 36% of the British public believe she has sound judgement (down 20 points).
When weighing the qualities of the party leaders Mrs May has fallen on almost all the leader image attributes measured since last September. Less than half (40%) think she is a good in a crisis (down 12 points), half (49%) think she understands the problems facing Britain (down 12 points) and 45% say she has a clear vision for Britain (down 10 points).
Over the same period, Jeremy Corbyn has improved on most leadership image traits. Two in five (40%) say he has sound judgement (up 10 points), half (52%) say he understands the problems facing Britain (up 8 points) and 47% say he has a clear vision for Britain (up 9 points). He also leads Mrs May on character ratings such as having a lot of personality (47% saying he has a lot of personality, up 15 points), honesty (55% say he is more honest than most politicians, up 3 points), and being less out of touch (just one in three (32%) say he is out of touch with ordinary people, down 12 points).
This compares with Mrs May’s worsening scores since last September: one in five (21%) thinks she has a lot of personality (down 16 points), a third (36%) say she is more honest than most politicians (down 8 points), two-thirds (66%) say she’s out of touch with ordinary people (up 23 points), and a third (36%) say she’s more style than substance (up 11 points).
Despite these changes Mrs May retains her lead on some competency issues, she is more likely to be seen as a capable leader (45% vs. 38% for My Corbyn), and is more likely to be seen to be good in a crisis (40% vs. 30% for My Corbyn). Mrs May is also seen to be more patriotic with three in four (72%) associating this trait with her, compared to just under half of the British public for Mr Corbyn (46%).
Mrs Mays likeability amongst the British public has also fallen since last September with just two in five (38%) saying they like her (down 22 points). This puts her ratings level with the Conservative Party (38%) and in a slightly worse position than David Cameron in September 2015 (when 44% liked him), but similar to Mr Cameron’s ratings in March 2015. Mr Corbyn’s improved image amongst the British public is also seen in his likability ratings with 46% saying they like him (up 9 points). This sees him rated as the most liked Labour leader in the past 10 years. The Labour Party is also more liked than it was 12 months ago with 54% of the British public saying they like them (up 8 points).
Mr Corbyn also retains his lead in public satisfaction ratings, with 43% of the British public satisfied with the way he is doing his job (no change since July). Mrs May’s decline in her leadership ratings seen in July appear to have levelled off with 37% (up 3 points) saying they are satisfied in her doing her job, and a fall in dissatisfaction from 59% to 54%. Satisfaction amongst party supporters is similar for both leaders, seven in ten (70%) are satisfied with Mrs May doing her job while one in four say they are dissatisfied (24%). This compares to 73% Labour supporters who are satisfied with Mr Corbyn and 19% who are dissatisfied.
Our first leadership ratings for Vince Cable show three in ten (30%) satisfied with him doing his job as leader of the Liberal Democrats (31% say they are dissatisfied) - however two in five (39%) say they are unsure. This compares with 20% who were satisfied with prior leader Tim Farron in September 2015, and 25% in our final ratings for him in May 2015.
Despite these changes there is equal appetite for the main parties to change their leaders before the next general election (43% say Labour should change their leader and 45% for the Conservatives). Nevertheless, for Labour, this represents a clear improvement since July 2016 (down 23 points). Young voters still widely show their support for Jeremy Corbyn with just one in four (25%) aged 18-34 agreeing that the Labour Party should change leader (55% disagree). In comparison 56% of young people think the Conservative Party should change its leader (18% disagree).
Voting intention figures show no significant change from July. The Labour Party currently stands on 44%, the Conservatives on 40%, and the Liberal Democrats on 9%.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said:
The public have clearly warmed to Jeremy Corbyn’s style, and cooled on Theresa May, over the last year. Since 2007, the Conservatives used to be able to offset being the less-liked party with a more-liked leader, but now they are behind on both. But Theresa May still leads on some competence issues such as capability and handling a crisis – although even these have taken a big hit from her commanding position a year ago.
Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,023 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 15th – 18th September 2017. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.