David Cameron: 2% more popular than Neil Kinnock

by Stephen Tall on December 6, 2006

One year into the job: how’s David Cameron doing? Though there’s much I could say, I’m clearly not the most impartial observer. So I thought I’d let some figures do the talking instead.

The graph below illustrates how Mr Cameron and Mr Blair compare after their first year as leader of the opposition, against their parties’ previous general election results.

Mr Blair took over in July 1994, just over two years after Neil Kinnock’s defeat at the hands of John Major in April 1992.

In the 12 months that followed, Labour’s ICM poll rating averaged 49%, up 14% compared to their general election performance.

Mr Cameron took over in December 2005, six months after Michael Howard’s defeat at the hands of Tony Blair the previous May.

Over the last 12 months, the Tories’ ICM poll rating has averaged 37%, up 4% compared to their general election performance.

You can draw your own conclusions. I infer just one: Mr Cameron, you are no Tony Blair.

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And what was the difference between 1994 and 1995 as far as Blair goes? Let’s face it, the Tories did a lot of Blair’s work for him.

by Ken on December 7, 2006 at 12:47 am. Reply #

And, Ken, one might also say that in the last year Blair has done a lot of the Tories’ work for them…!

by Stephen Tall on December 7, 2006 at 8:09 am. Reply #

But it’s somewhat harder to judge when Blair is going to be out of the way by the next election, and many of Labour’s woes are identified with Blair, rather than the party as a whole.

That, of course, is Cameron’s job. But he’s got another obstacle; the distance until the next election. If he comes up with too much substance now, Gordon Brown steals it when he takes over.

I agree that Cameron isn’t a cast-iron guaranteed saviour of the Conservative Party. But there’s an awful lot of reasons why the comparison isn’t entirely fair. The public weren’t remotely prepared to elect the Tories at the last election; before some of the Kinnock/Smith cock-ups of 1992, the country was prepared to elect Labour, for example.

by Ken on December 7, 2006 at 10:19 am. Reply #

Two obvious differences between Cameron and Blair:

1. Cameron became Tory leader after Howard stepped down, whereas Kinnock was replaced by Smith, and only two years after the election did Blair become Labour leader.

2. Everyone knew Blair would face major at the next election; everyone knows Cameron will *not* face Blair.

But also, Blair built on what Kinnock and Smith had already done. Hague, Duncan Smith, and Howard didn’t do much for Cameron to start from; he’s had to start from scratch.

by Anonymous on December 7, 2006 at 11:26 am. Reply #

Meaningless analysis. In June 2004, a month before Blair took over Labour polled 43% in the Euro elections. Your naff bar chart only shows that the popularity of party leaders correlates very strongly with their party’s poll ratings. Admittedly, Blair’s charm worked for a short time, but he has been an unmitigated disaster.

by Praguetory on December 7, 2006 at 12:06 pm. Reply #

Presumably Praguetory actually means June 1994!

He is possibly correct in this instance in claiming that the popularity of the party leader correlates with that of the party, though this is not always the case. Whether or not Tories are meant to be heartened by Praguetory’s comments is an interesting point. The fact is that the Tories are not in a position to win an election outright and on current form are unlikely to overtake Labour as the largest party.

by Jonathan Wallace on December 7, 2006 at 1:30 pm. Reply #

Thanks for the clarification, Jonathan. If the Dems manage to hold 60 or so seats after the next election, I suspect (agree?) that no party will have an overall victory. I am not trying to hearten anybody, just suggesting that there was nothing incredible about Blair’s early ratings, having started his tenure with a 15% percentage points lead in the party polls.

by Praguetory on December 7, 2006 at 1:38 pm. Reply #

Is Ming winning here?

by Guy on December 8, 2006 at 11:15 pm. Reply #

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