The following was posted by Howard Reed on this blog yesterday as a comment, but it seemed worth reblogging it to me as it addresses yet another of the popular misconceptions the right wing press like to put out about Labor, so I do so, with his permission:
I’ve been having a look at the ICM polling data since 1984 (available here) and the headway that the main opposition party has made in the opinion polls one year since the previous general election. Results as follows:
June 1984: Labour polling 38% (up 10% since 1983 general election)
June 1988: Labour polling 42% (up 10% since 1987 general election)
April 1993: Labour polling 39% (up 4% since 1992 general election)
May 1998: Tories polling 29% (down 2% since 1997 general election)
June 2002: Tories polling 32% (down 1% since 2001 general election)
May 2006: Tories polling 38% (up 5% since 2005 general election)
If Labour is currently polling 41%, then it’s up 12% since the general election — and on that measure, Labour under Ed Miliband is the best performing opposition party since regular records began. He’s had a much better start than the Tories did under Hague, IDS or even Cameron. And polling methods were changed after the pollsters got it so wrong in 1992, so arguably Labour’s lead in 1984 and 1988 was significantly exaggerated — so Ed’s also probably doing a lot better than Neil Kinnock did back then.
Now of course, one could argue that there are special factors at work at the moment which mean circumstances aren’t comparable with earlier electoral cycles — the cuts programme should be making the govt more unpopular than it is, the collapse of the Lib Dems is helping Labour. But even so, on the face of it the headline numbers suggest Ed is actually doing much BETTER than people give him credit for.