Ed Miliband continues to profit from his decision to lead the charge against News International. The latest YouGov/Sunday Times poll shows that the Labour leader’s net approval rating is now higher than David Cameron’s for the first time since last September.
Miliband’s rating is now -15, up from -21 a week ago and from -34 three weeks ago (before the Milly Dowler story broke), while Cameron’s is -16, down from -12 a week ago. Nick Clegg’s approval rating is unchanged at -42. However, it’s important to note, as UK Polling Report’s Anthony Wells does, that this simply means people think Miliband is doing a better job as Labour leader, not that he’d make a better prime minister than Cameron. A YouGov poll earlier this week gave Cameron a nine point lead over Miliband as the best PM. But, one hastens to add, this is the lowest lead recorded to date. Miliband has grown significantly in the eyes of the public over the last two weeks.
Given that personal approval ratings are often a better long-term indicator of the next election result than voting intentions, this is encouraging for Labour. The party frequently led the Tories under Neil Kinnock, for instance, but Kinnock was never rated above John Major as a potential prime minister. Miliband still isn’t where he needs to be but he is (finally) moving in the right direction. In the meantime, Labour’s lead over the Tories (43 per cent to 35 per cent) remains at eight points, up two points since the Dowler story broke. If repeated at a general election on the current constituency boundaries, these figures would give Labour a majority of 96.