Labour are the most popular party, but their leader lags behind

The Ipsos MORI Political Monitor for September 2014 shows Ed Miliband is still to convince the public of his own qualities, despite presiding over the most popular party.

New polling from Ipsos MORI shows Ed Miliband is still to convince the public of his own qualities, despite presiding over the most popular party. Just three in ten (31%) of Britons say they like Mr Miliband - effectively level with Nick Clegg on 33% and Nigel Farage on 32% - but 63% say they dislike him. David Cameron stands out as the most popular of the leaders, with just under half (48%) liking him.

This is in contrast to the public’s views of their parties, where Labour has a clear lead. Half of the public say they like the Labour Party 50%, compared with around four in ten each for the Conservatives (42%) and the Liberal Democrats (41%) and three in ten for UKIP (29%). 

The public rate Labour highest as looking after the interests of ‘people like me’ (48%, compared with 35% for the Conservatives, 32% for the Liberal Democrats and 28% for UKIP) and see them as best understanding the problems facing Britain (52%, over 43% for the Conservatives, 39% for the Liberal Democrats and 38% for UKIP).

The Conservatives are seen as most fit to govern (51%, against 41% for Labour, 18% for the Liberal Democrats and 16% for UKIP) and as having the best team of leaders (40%, over 31% for Labour, 24% for UKIP and 20% for the Liberal Democrats). However, they are also seen as most divided, with 61% describing them as such – and are seen as more so than last September (57%), while Labour (47%, down from 62%) and the Liberal Democrats (56%, down from 62%) have moved in the opposite direction ahead of the general election run-in. UKIP (now on 36%, up from 28% last year) are also seen as increasingly divided – but at a far lower level than the other three main parties.

The Liberal Democrats are seen as most out-of-date on 51%, just above Labour and the Conservatives (both 48%), with UKIP least described as such (39%). Nick Clegg’s party is also least trusted to keep its promises (13%, against 23% for the Conservatives, 24% for UKIP and 27% for Labour).

UKIP are seen as most different to other parties (80%, over 46% for the Conservatives, 43% for Labour and 39% for the Liberal Democrats). Just under two in three (64%) describe UKIP as extreme, with the Conservatives (23%) also considered significantly more extreme than Labour (14%) and the Liberal Democrats (12%).

As regards the party leaders, Mr Cameron leads the way as most capable on 55%. Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband are essentially level in second place (on 31% and 30% respectively), with Nick Clegg on 20%. The Prime Minister is also considered best in a crisis on 53%, well ahead of Messrs Miliband (22%), Farage (19%) and Clegg (17%); and he is most trusted to have sound judgement (43%, over 36% for Mr Miliband, 26% for Mr Clegg and 24% for Mr Farage). He is still considered most out of touch with ordinary people, however, at 67% - well above Nick Clegg (55%), Ed Miliband (46%) and Nigel Farage (39%).

Mr Miliband leads in understanding the problems facing Britain (53%, over 48% for Mr Cameron, 42% for Mr Clegg and 39% for Mr Farage) and is least likely to be seen as ‘more style than substance’ (32%, against 43% for David Cameron, 45% for Nick Clegg and 52% for Nigel Farage).

However, the Labour leader lags on personality – where Mr Farage rules the roost. Two thirds (67%) of Britons think Nigel Farage has a lot of personality, well ahead of Mr Cameron (39%), with Messrs Clegg (26%) and Miliband (20%) lagging well behind. Mr Farage also is most considered to have a clear vision for Britain (on 58%, just ahead of David Cameron on 55%, Ed Miliband on 43%, and Nick Clegg who lags well behind on 26%).

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI said:

“All the parties have a patchwork of positives and problems that need addressing, and going into conference season it doesn’t seem as if any of them hold the trump card with voters.  Labour is the most liked party, but Ed Miliband still hasn’t convinced the public on his Prime Ministerial qualities – where David Cameron has the edge, but is hampered by being seen as out of touch and by a more disliked party.  Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats remain the least trusted, and UKIP are the most distinctive – but also the most extreme.”

Technical note: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,010 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 6th – 9th September 2014.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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