By a Newsnet reporter
As Labour leader Ed Miliband prepares to deliver his keynote speech to the Labour party conference in Manchester, a poll has found that voters continue to be uncertain about what Mr Miliband stands for.
According to the Sunday Times/YouGov survey, Mr Miliband’s poll ratings are poor across the UK but significantly lower in Scotland.
The survey, which was carried out last week, also found that Mr Miliband’s approval ratings – along with those of all the Westminster leaders – were likewise significantly lower in Scotland than across the UK as a whole.
Only 21% of Scottish voters think it is clear what Mr Miliband stands for and what he would do in office. This is 2% lower than the 23% across the UK who share the same opinion.
The percentage of voters who think Mr Miliband has not made clear what he stands for stands at 61% in Scotland and 58% across the rest of the UK.
Asked whether the Labour leader was doing a good job heading his party, just 27% of Scottish voters (28% across the UK as a whole) agreed. But almost two thirds of the Scottish population, 61%, believe Mr Miliband is performing poorly. This is worse for the former aide to Gordon Brown than elsewhere in the UK. 58% of UK voters believe Mr Miliband is doing a poor job as Labour leader.
The figures strongly suggest that voters remain unimpressed by Mr Miliband’s performance, and Scottish voters will require convincing if they are to place their trust in the Labour leader. Mr Miliband’s wholehearted support for Scottish leader Johann Lamont’s recent abandonment of the traditional Labour value of universal benefits may have made the task more difficult – the survey followed Ms Lamont’s ‘Something for Nothing’ speech.
The sole positive sign for Mr Miliband and the Labour leadership is that the other UK party leaders are faring even worse in Scotland. 76% of Scottish voters believe Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is doing a poor job, compared to 59% across the UK as a whole. The figures for Nick Clegg make dire reading for Lib Dem strategists, with a massive 85% of Scots saying that he is performing badly.
Despite the Labour Party enjoying a 5% lead in voting intentions over the Tories across the UK, they still trail the SNP in Scotland – representing a remarkable swing since the 2010 election.
Peter Kellner of YouGov said:
“Miliband has much to do, starting with this week’s Labour conference, to seal the deal with the electorate. Labour’s lead over the Tories is rooted in disappointment with the Conservatives and disillusion with the Liberal Democrats, not a positive view of Labour, or enthusiasm for its leader.”
“In our standard voting intention question we don’t mention party leaders. When we add their names, Labour’s lead generally slips by 2-4 percentage points.
“… Miliband should still be worried. It is normal for government parties to recover from their mid-term rating. If that happens between now and 2015, then even a slight drag on Labour support could make the difference between victory and defeat.”
Commenting on the figures, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:
“These figures show that Scotland just hasn’t warmed to Ed Miliband – a man whose support across the UK is lukewarm at best.
“As we saw last week with Johann Lamont’s botched announcement of a Cuts Commission – which had clearly been rushed to give the impression that she was not copying Ed Balls’ ‘ruthless’ spending review – it is still very much the London party which is in the driving seat, and they are dragging down the Holyrood group with them.
“As with the confusion around the Cuts Commission itself, Scots are looking at Ed Miliband and asking what Labour actually stands for any more.”