Opposition Party Leaders: Ipsos MORI Satisfaction ratings 1977-2019

Independent analyst David Cowling looks how Opposition party leaders have fared in the polls with a focus on their lowest satisfaction ratings.

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  • David Cowling Independent Political Analyst
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This article has been written independently by David Cowling and does not necessarily reflect the views of Ipsos MORI.

I have looked at the incomparable Ipsos MORI polling series on satisfaction/dissatisfaction with Opposition party leaders and the following table registers the lowest point in that series for each of the eleven Opposition leaders who held office during the period 1977-2019.

Opposition Leader Satisfied Dissatisfied Net satisfaction Date of poll
  % % %  
Thatcher 38 51 -13 Nov 1978
Foot 13 69 -56 Aug 1982
Kinnock 27 61 -34 Dec 1988
Smith 33 41 -8 May 1993
Blair 42 35 +7 Sep 1996
Hague 19 56 -37 Jan 2000
Duncan Smith 16 53 -37 Feb 2003
Howard 23 49 -26 Jun 2005
Cameron 23 45 -22 Sep 2007
Miliband 25 63 -38 Dec 2014
Corbyn 17 72 -55 Feb 2019

Over this period only Thatcher, Blair and Cameron completed the journey from Leader of the Opposition to Prime Minister. The nadir of their ratings in this series were -13%, +7% and -22% (although it should be noted that Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 despite the Conservatives failing to secure a governing majority of their own).

We are accustomed to the seemingly endless Via Dolorosa that Mrs May has stumbled along since the 2017 general election. However, it says quite something about the current state of UK politics that the Leader of the Opposition has just registered the second (fractionally) biggest net dissatisfaction ratings and the highest percentage of dissatisfied respondents of the past four decades.

The author(s)

  • David Cowling Independent Political Analyst

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