The latest YouGov poll undertaken on behalf of the Sunday Times covers a range of topics this week and looked in detail at Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour party, the Government’s U-turns, universities and the “slut walks” movement.

Ed Miliband’s time as leader

Ed Miliband’s net job approval score is the lowest we have seen so far since he was nominated leader of the Labour Party. Now only 30% of people think he is doing a good job as leader of the party compared to 53% who think he is doing a bad job, giving a net score of minus 23.

Our poll for the Sunday Times asked extensive questions on opinion of Ed Miliband’s time as leader so far and the results are damning with more Labour Party voters thinking it was the wrong decision to make him leader and with the majority thinking it is not clear what he stands for.

The criticism of his leadership is even more pronounced among British people as a whole with the majority thinking he is ineffective in opposition and that he lacks a credible policy for sorting out the economy. With respondents consistently selecting the economy as the as one of the biggest problems facing the country at this time, his weakness in this area will be a key test in the next election.

Further points of interest are as follows-

  • 41% of Labour party voters think it was the wrong decision to elect him leader, compared to 35% who think it was right.
  • 54% of Labour party voters do not know what he stands for.
  • Among Brits 51% think it was the wrong decision compared to 19% who think it was right (even more pronounced than Labour Voters).
  • 65% think he has been ineffective at providing opposition to David Cameron.
  • 70% do not know what he stands for compare to the 21% who do know what he stands for.
  • 52% do not think that he has a credible policy for sorting out the economy whilst 32% are not sure whether he does or not, whilst 16% think he does have a credible policy.
  • 45% think he married his partner to improve his image rather than for genuine reasons (30%).

Of the alternative Labour Party politicians, only his brother David received a net positive score (those who think he would do better than Ed compared to those who think they would do worse). David received a score of +35, Ed Balls minus 11, Harriet Harman minus 20 and Yvette Cooper minus 21. Of Labour party voters most think David would do better than Ed (45%) whilst 9% think he would do worse and 30% think there would be no difference.

Government U-Turns

The Government has U-turned on 2 issues this week. Firstly they will not be introducing the reduced sentences for criminals who plead guilty early, before going to court. Secondly they have introduced a number of changes to their NHS reforms, which proved controversial. Whilst opinion people are decidedly supportive of the changes themselves, opinion is more divided on whether it makes the Government appear weak or not.

On cancelling plans for reduced sentences, and the announcement of changes to the NHS reforms, 72% and 64% say they were right to drop their plans respectively. However, 39% think the U-turns show the Government is weak and hasn’t thought through their policies. This compares to the 41% who think it shows that they are willing to listen to popular opinion. It is worth noting here that with regards to this, opinion is neatly divided along party lines.

David Cameron also made five pledges this week on the NHS – that of promising to protect universal coverage, not to break up integrated care, to keep waiting lists low, to increase spending on the NHS and not to sell-off the NHS. Overall the majority of people have little or no trust that Cameron will keep his promises on the NHS (54%) compared to the 40% who do trust him to keep his promises on these.

Universities and Elite Institutions

The tuition fee rise remains unpopular with the majority of people, with 54% saying they oppose the policy. Most people think that the Government should fund higher education through taxation rather than students paying the cost (46%).

It was announced this week that a new private institution is to be set up which will charge students £18,000, and will offer its students one-to-one tuition from some of the best-known professors in Britain. 47% of people think that it is a bad idea to set up a private university charging £18,000 with 30% thinking it is a good idea. Opinion is more divided on whether it is worth the £18,000 price tag with 36% saying it is worth the large price tag whilst 41% do not think it is worth it. On whether it is justifiable to call it elitist or not - 64% think that it is justified.

'Slut Walks'

YouGov also polled on the wave of 'slutwalks' which have taken place around the world in recent months. They were conceived as an idea to draw attention to female harassment and the idea that women dressing provocatively deserve or encourage harassment. The majority of people (57%) think that a woman who dresses provocatively is not responsible for being harassed whilst 27% think that she is responsible. However, 73% think that a woman is more likely to be harassed if she is dressed provocatively whilst 14% think that she is not. On whether the idea of “slutwalks” is a good or a bad way to advance their cause, opinion is decided - 61% think that it does not sound like a good way to advance their cause.

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