With one year to go, I thought it would be useful to track how Ed and Dave compare to their predecessors one year before a General Election. I’ve been using the ratings from Ipsos-Mori that go back nearly forty years and are considered to be the Gold Standards of leader ratings.
Looking at the Leader of the Opposition net ratings, sometimes the figures speak for themselves. Only Leaders of the Opposition with net positive ratings one year have gone onto become Prime Minister and only Michael Foot, generally regarded as the worst Leader of the Opposition since the war, polls worse than Ed while William Hague, Michael Howard and Neil Kinnock had better ratings than Ed and didn’t become Prime Minister.
Whilst we do live in a more cynical, anti-politician era, so that may explain Ed’s ratings, that said, in the same point of the electoral cycle, David Cameron was polling a net plus 23, nearly 50 points ahead of where Ed is today, and that was only five years ago.
Moving onto Prime Ministers ratings, it is a bit harder to discern a pattern.
The most amusing thing I found was Dave’s rating was exactly the same as Tony Blair’s rating in his first term,both in net terms, and the individual figures, 39 positive, 52 negative, David Cameron truly is the heir to Blair.
Looking at the leads the PM enjoys over the Leader of the Opposition, the longer a PM stays in power, ultimately they become less popular, but even then they do recover. The fact Jim Callaghan had a lead over Margaret Thatcher should give Ed some succour, but will there be an equivalent to the Winter of Discontent?
Before Labour supporters get too despondent, Ed does enjoy some advantages that his predecessors do not, such as the electoral geography favouring Labour, and the great known unknown of UKIP which could make the 2015 General Election like no other.