Why Labour lost the election: according to the voters

Ed Miliband

A new YouGov poll suggests how strong people think numerous factors were in causing Labour to lose the election.

The latest poll, for the Sunday Times, asked 1,697 GB adults what they thought were the main reasons for Labour loss in the election, a loss which resulted in a Conservative majority victory.

The polling does not therefore give the reasons why Ed Miliband’s party lost the election, but instead gives the public's opinion on the matter.

Respondents were asked:

“Thinking back to the general election, what do you think were the main reasons that Labour lost the election? Please tick up to two or three”

  • The most popular reason chosen was that ‘people did not think Ed Miliband would make a good Prime Minister’. 53% said this.
  • The second most popular reason picked was people not trusting Labour on the economy. 42% said they thought this was the case. Interestingly, for voters from Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP between 30% and 43% said this, but for Conservative voters a total of 62% said this, showing perhaps how vital economic trust will be if Labour wants to win back Conservative voters.
  • The third most popular reason chosen was fear of a deal with the SNP. 34% picked this option.
  • In contrast with these top reasons, just 10% said they thought that people thinking Labour's policies were not appealing to the public was the reason for Labour losing.

The rest of the results can be viewed here.

This is an interesting poll as these are the three reasons most often cited by commentators as potential reason for why Labour lost the election. The fear of a Labour-SNP deal is often suggested as a reason for a ‘late swing’ to the Conservatives, which the polls failed to pick up on.

It's striking that the most popular reason picked was the flaws of Ed Miliband, whilst the least popular was policy. Policy is important, but in 2015 - and more importantly 2020 - personality politics is important. In this age of 24/7 news, Labour needs someone with the right policies, the right economics and an appealing personality. As cynical as that may sound.

This poll is useful as how people perceived the outcome of the election, but there is the possibility of a feedback loop with the political commentators having suggested these reasons, meaning people have heard them and felt convinced. Perceptions of why Labour lost the election will be important to understand for the next Labour leader, but polls and focus groups asking individuals who may have voted Labour, but did not, will be a much more useful tool.

The full results of the poll can be viewed here.

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