Ed Miliband: A credible leader?
by Sam Croft
Opinion polls are far from an exact science. Weekly fluctuations, sample selections and the way questions are worded must all be considered before it is even possible to question the validity of data based upon a hypothetical situation three years before the public are given a chance to vote in a real general election.
The Labour Party is currently leading the Conservative party in such polls by 10%, even amidst the Jubilee celebrations which one would expect to help the support of the current governing party, especially a Conservative one.
Labour may be leading in the polls but the economic record of the Brown government and the credibility of their leader, Ed Miliband, have both made many question whether, when it comes to it, can people really trust the current opposition as anything other than an opposition party.
Ed Miliband has struggled as Labour leader ever since his shock victory over his own brother. The Conservative party exploited his support base from the Trade Unions, effectively, labelling him ‘Red Ed’. Recent figures have, however, suggested that the formerly unpopular leader is increasingly appealing as a credible alternative to David Cameron.
Miliband is currently seen as doing ‘badly’ rather than ‘well’ by 28% more people, against minus 26% of positive reviews of David Cameron and minus 55% for Nick Clegg (according to a poll by Yougov). This is however up from negative 44% in January. This may not paint a particularly positive picture for the way the party leadership is perceived by the British public but it does suggest Miliband is increasingly seen as a credible leader, when compared to Cameron at least.
Economic issues are often prioritised, in Westminster, opinion polling and election results alike. George Osborne and Ed Balls are both competing to be perceived as ‘trustworthy’ with the economy, yet the success of the growth against austerity arguments will fundamentally be judged in 2015 alone.
Social policy is important to all three parties in government yet with varying levels of success. Cameron tried to ‘detoxify’ the Conservative Party with his ideas about the Big Society, Miliband has tried to be the champion of equality against heartless spending cuts and Clegg has relied on social areas as the last refuge of the small partner in the coalition.
A recent poll conducted for the Independent found that in areas of social policy Ed Miliband’s personal ratings closer mirrored the success of the Labour party as a whole and that people had greater belief in his claims to support equality and social justice. Although the coalition still enjoyed support as the most credible party to help tackle the deficit and ensure stability for the economy, the public are still not sold on the idea of Big Society.
Ed Miliband may not be the downfall of the Labour party yet, but he needs to learn to play to his strengths.