Anti-independence party leaders face catastrophic poll ratings

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By a Newsnet reporter

The breakdowns from the latest YouGov poll for the Sunday Times show catastrophic opinions of all the UK party leaders in Scotland – with 81 per cent of Scots saying Ed Miliband is doing badly. 

The Labour leader is paying the price in Scotland for his recent attempts to match the Conservatives on their austerity and cuts agenda. 

Mr Miliband has come under fierce criticism from major trade unions as a result.  Voters now have less confidence in his performance than they do in Nick Clegg’s.

The three party leaders show significant negative ratings in Scotland, with Miliband at -70, David Cameron at -22, and Nick Clegg -59.  All three of the anti-independence party leaders poll significantly worse in Scotland than they do elsewhere in the UK.  Across the UK Miliband’s rating is a poor -53,  followed closely by Clegg on -50, with David Cameron showing rather better at -3.

The misery piles on for Mr Miliband as 78% of people in Scotland think he is not the best leader and 65% think he should stand down before the next election.  Only 20% of Scots in questioned in the poll believe that Miliband should lead Labour into the next General Election.

The Tory-Lib Dem Government doesn’t fare much better, with 62% of people in Scotland saying it is bad for people like them, with a rating of -30 across the UK as a whole.

Although the sub-sample for Scotland is small, 45% of Scots questioned in the poll say that they will vote for a party other than one of the three large anti-independence parties.  The vast majority of these will be SNP supporters.  Only 24% of Scots said they would vote Labour, alarmingly for the party, this is the exact same percentage of those questioned who said they intended to vote Conservative.  A mere 6% of Scots intend to vote Lib Dem, confirming that party’s descent into electoral irrelevance.

In contrast the latest poll ratings for First Minister Alex Salmond (Ipsos-MORI, December 2011) show a +35 rating of people in Scotland satisfied with his leadership.  

The poll’s findings will cause alarm amongst Labour, whose recent policy changes have failed to reverse the public’s declining confidence in Ed Miliband.  Historically the Labour party is extremely reluctant to force one of its leaders out of office, leaving Labour strategists with the unenviable task of finding a way to recover their poll ratings while handicapped by an unpopular leader. 

The party’s rapprochment with the Conservatives on the constitutional issue scarcely may be popular with some voters south of the Border, but in Scotland it risks having a devastating effect on Labour’s electoral chances.

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:

“This new poll speaks loud and clear that none of the three UK party leaders represent the needs of the people of Scotland. The anti-independence parties are being given a clear signal that their approach and policies are wrong. These ratings are dismal for all three UK leaders – and for Ed Miliband they are simply catastrophic.

“Clearly, Mr Miliband’s backing for Tory policies on public sector pay has done him serious damage across the UK, but especially here in Scotland where people know they can no longer look to Labour to protect them from the Tories.

“At the same time, the cack-handed meddling on Scotland’s referendum and ridiculous scare stories about independence from David Cameron and his Lib Dem helpers have clearly back-fired and are simply alienating voters in Scotland.

“Scotland needs the full financial powers of independence and to have the same status as any other nation.

“This week the First Minister will unveil his referendum consultation to allow Scotland to voice exactly what it wants.

“And as we know from an ICM poll showing support for independence at a five-year high a week after Mr Cameron blundered into the debate, the people of Scotland clearly want him to stop interfering.”