In 2005 the Conservatives were seen by voters as being 'stuck in the past' – now that perception applies more to Labour
In March 2005, six weeks away from a general election, YouGov released a poll showing that the Conservative party, then led by Michael Howard, was thought of as ‘stuck in the past’ by 37% of the public and ‘badly led’ by 34%. On May 6, the day after the election, Michael Howard announced he would be stepping down, believing he was too old to lead the party.
Now, in February 2015, we repeated our 2005 poll, to see how the party images have changed in the past ten years. 'Stuck in the past' is now seen as more of a Labour attribute than Conservative.
Where 37% thought the Tories were 'stuck in the past' in 2005 and only 9% thought the phrase described Labour, now 19% say the Tories have this problem, while more (24%) say the phrase applies to Labour.
‘Badly led' has also come down for the Tories, now on 21% (down 13), but for Labour the number has increased, by 9 points (up from 35% to 44%).
‘Does not have clear principles’ and ‘has too many policies that don’t make sense’ are other attributes that have come down significantly for the Conservatives, both by 7 points.
As an aggregate score in the negative statements section below, where a higher score is worse, the Conservatives have improved by 6 points, from 33 to 27. In the positive statements section, where a higher score is better, the Conservatives have fallen 5 points, from 18 to 13.
Labour, on the other hand, has had no aggregate change in the negative statements section, and has fallen 11 points in the positive statements section.
Tony Blair won the 2005 election, entering his third term in Parliament. But Labour was alienating voters: its overall share in 1997, 43.2%, had fallen to 40.2% in 2001 and 35.3% in 2005. In YouGov’s 2005 poll, ‘not in touch with people like me’ was the phrase thought to apply to Labour most, chosen by 42%. But
Since then, Labour has improved its image of inclusiveness. Just 15% now say Ed Miliband’s party ‘wants to help only a minority’, down from 27%, and 12% fewer (31%) than in 2005 say Labour is ‘not in touch with people like me’.