Nick Clegg's personal ratings have languished under Coalition. Miliband has fared slightly better, but Cameron clearly leads.
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Cameron is nearly twice as personally popular as Miliband

The reshuffle is yet to backfire.

David Cameron has brushed aside the reshuffle – he remains nearly twice as popular as Ed Miliband when voters are asked who they would prefer to be Prime Minister.

Data released today by YouGov shows that Cameron’s popularity has ticked down 1 per cent, but he still has a 17-point lead over his Labour opponent.

Cameron has enjoyed relatively strong ratings throughout his premiership, and has consistently held a sizeable lead over Miliband.

But recent ratings have been his best for more than two years. Cameron’s personal ratings have consistently trended upwards since the "cash for access" scandal saw his numbers fall seven per cent over a week in March 2012.

Miliband’s have been far more inconsistent, and haven’t improved much on the nadir he fell to in early 2012, when just 16 per cent of voters viewed him as the best Prime Minister.

A series of small gaffes and a under-developed conference speech on responsible capitalism saw his ratings fall 10 per cent in less than 18 months. By October he had recovered, and reached an all-time of 27 per cent in October 2012 after his well-received "One Nation" conference speech.

But his numbers began to slide again in 2013, and, despite ticking up during Labour conference in September, they remain low.

Cameron, on the other hand, has started to see the fruits of his government’s economic plan. Spurred by a year of 3 per cent growth, and unemployment falling to a six-year low, his personal ratings have recovered – much like his Chancellor’s.

The duo will hope living standards start to rise over the next year. At the moment Labour can still point to how wages remain stubbornly below inflation – people are not feeling this supposed economic recovery.

But today’s data shows that any Labour victory will have to be won on the strength of its arguments – and in spite of its leader.

Photo: Getty
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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.