Post-debate polls lead the news agenda – unless Ed Miliband wins

Obsessive focus on poll results is quietly shelved when Labour is ahead


A snap Survation poll for the Mirror newspaper has found that 35 per cent of respondents said Ed Miliband ‘won’ last night’s BBC debate, giving him a clear victory over his rival party leaders.

But you wouldn’t know it from the coverage this morning in some newspapers, despite their having changed their front pages overnight.

You’ll remember that both the previous ‘debates’ – the Paxman interviews with Miliband and Cameron on March 26 and the seven-way leaders’ debate on April 2 – were reported with heavy emphasis on the polling results about who ‘won’ and who made the best impression on voters.

After the leaders’ debate in April, the Sun newspaper ran a front page story claiming Ed Miliband had blown his election chances by failing to top the polls in the seven-way chatter-fest. The Telegraph ran ‘Miliband flops as outsiders shine’ on its front page, emphasising the poll results, as did the Times, the Guardian and the Independent. 

So today’s lack of interest in the polls makes for a rather dramatic contrast.

It’s also worth noting that the poll not only shows Miliband ahead of his fellow debtors, but a general swing in his favour against prime minister David Cameron, (who did not take part in the debate). In a straight contest between Miliband and Cameron, 45 per cent said they would vote for Miliband as prime minister, against 40 percent for Cameron.

Aside for the sins of omission, there are those of commission. An Ipsos Mori poll yesterday taken before the debate which had Labour ahead with 35 per cent was written up in the Evening Standard as ‘Miliband poll blow’.

Focus on these imperfect measurements can be trivial, misleading and a way to avoid discussion of ideas. When it comes to debates, polls are plagued with hazy stupidities (how can one ‘win’ a debate with no formal motion or vote?) and often amount to little more than a measurement of impressions, reducing political argument into a contest between performing seals.

That said, if the media insists on judging debates by poll results, they ought to be consistent. And the only poll on last night’s debate, conducted by a respected polling company, says Miliband smashed it.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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19 Responses to “Post-debate polls lead the news agenda – unless Ed Miliband wins”

  1. Gerschwin

    Was it performing seals in monkey suits that the Daily Mirror polled or just the usual Labour activists?

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    You prove the article correct.

  3. Gerschwin

    QED eh? Like I said Leon, you’re a fast learner. Well done.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    And your post content is? Right.

  5. treborc1

    Well won what I did not know it was a game show, labour came over as Miliband does he looks at the camera with that stupid look on his face and you look behind you thinking he is looking at somebody.

    Farage shot himself in the foot with his left wing audience , as did Miliband then having a go at the SNP leader who shot him down.

    Labour 7.5

    SNP 8

    Plaid 5

    Greens 5

    Farage 2.

  6. littleoddsandpieces



    326 MPs is the minimum threshold for a party to form a UK parliament.

    Yougov predicts

    277 labour

    264 Tories

    28 Lib Dems

    Means none of these parties can form a UK parliament.

    The Tories are obliged by the rules to stay in government in this severe hung parliament in what is called a caretaker government.

    So Miliband cannot rule, even though Labour has gained marginally more seats than Labour.

    Labour constantly says it will not form a coalition with the SNP, due to win 53 out of the 59 seats in Scotland.

    But if SNP win 53 out of 59 seats, than is most of the 40 Scottish Labour seats gone.

    277 minus 40

    What if Plaid Cymru wins against the around 29 Labour seats in Wales?

    If Plaid Cymru wins against 8 Tories, 3 Lib Dems and 29 Labour seats in Wales, you get the start of a different kind of politics in the UK.

    But here comes another math, if the 75 per cent non-voter came out and voted different on Thursday 7 May.

    Because the non-voters had a landslide victory, with some voting areas having up to 50,000 more non-voters than the around 15,000 votes that won either Tory, Lib Dem or Labour seats throughout the UK.


    Vote different:

    113 TUSC England, a few in Scotland and some in Wales

    53 SNP

    Half or more of Wales’ seats – Plaid Cymru

    12 or more CLASS WAR
    Double dole and pension

    13 National Health Action party
    (voting out Prime Minister Cameron and Health Minister Jeremy Lefroy and Stafford Tory MP)

    10 The Left Unity Party
    Ban sanctions

    10 Socialist GB

    1 Green is in Brighton Pavilions voting area.
    But there are 3 voting areas in Brighton.

    Brighton Kemptown – Socialist GB candidate

    Brighton and Hove – TUSC candidate

    In fact a Socialist GB candidate is running against Ms Lucas MP The Greens, in Brighton Pavilions voting area.

    The Greens ran away from the policies that cared less about the poor from babes to grannies, and a living wage.


    400 MP majority UK parliament in a group of parties.

    Rules are a group of parties forming a UK parliament can equally negotiate between each other and not only with Labour.

    Maintaining a democracy by having MPs on the opposition benches in the House of Commons in the UK parliament, of a minority group of Tories and Lib Dems.


  7. Little Ted

    labour were talking about interns working for nothing the other day and how bad they are, yet this site who not so long ago was asking for people to work for nothing didnt report on it. I wonder why ?

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    And he’s going to lose all the ground with today’s hard move right, no benefits for anyone until they’ve worked 2 years, etc.

  9. Paul Douglas

    That’s not how caretaker governments work. As soon as there is a Leader confident they can form a government which will command the confidence of the house, the incumbent is obliged to resign and recommend the Queen invite that Leader to form a government.


    The deal with Atlee and the woring class was about work and benefits when required. Not a lifetime on the dole courtesy of working people.

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    In fact, the whole issue of any conditionality was very controversial art the time, as you as usual ignore the whole issue of your beloved austerity ending so many jobs, and you chant the old myths about the poor, when the vast majority of people on JSA are so for short periods.

    Moreover, denying more young people, the disabled etc. benefits wasn’t the idea.

    Your ideas come from the current government, which spends far more punishing the poor than it does paying them.


    I have not given ideas yet. I was just mentioning the consensus that apparantly happened and I think it a good consensus. I have no problem helping the elderly and disabled but where are the poor in Britain nowadays? I do remember the poor during the 50/60s. The old poor of those times have two or three cars and extentions to their former council houses thanks to Wilson, Heath,Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown & Cameron. You like the poor Leon, it gives you something to exist on.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    So you’re in hardcore poverty denial.

    As you spout off nonsense – I favour a basic income, which abolishes low-level poverty entirely. The poverty fan is you.


    I do not see a any poverty around the working class area where I live. Just two three car families building extentions onto their former council houses. I do not use a car myself just public transport. However there is real poverty in Africa and South America. People in Britain are dying because they are over fed.

  15. Guest

    You prove my post true, of course.

    You’re happy to slowly kill the poor British, who you hate so much.
    Kill, kill, kill, your policies – as you talk about a few rich people overeating.

    And I see, you’re a MP and use a chauffeur paid for by the taxpayer.

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    Untrue. See the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which overrules the common law you’re talking about.

  17. Guest

    PS, must be nice living in your multi-million pound flat, but having city spivs and bankers who consider themselves the only real workers for neighbours? Pass.

  18. Paul Douglas

    Highly disingenuous. The Fixed Term Parliament act does not provide for an incumbent government to ignore an election result and remain in power indefinitely, and if it did it would immediately cause a constitutional crisis if anyone attempted to use it as a basis for doing so. Even under the provisions of FTPA, the incumbent government is only kept in place until an alternative government can prove it will command the confidence of the house. The comment I was replying to is incorrectly subtracting the SNP losses from Labour’s seat count twice in order to portray that as impossible, which is clearly incorrect. They also incorrectly state that 326 seats are needed to form a “Parliament” (we can deduce they probably meant “government”). This is also untrue, 326 is the threshold for an absolute majority. A working majority is 323. Minority government is perfectly acceptable if it is demonstrated that the government will command the confidence of the house. The outcome being projected by most analysts right now would make it relatively simple for Labour to show they could command the confidence of the House. Cameron would therefore be obligated by constitutional convention to resign and recommend the Queen invite Ed Miliband to form a government. If he refused, it would prompt a challenge in the courts, and he would lose.

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    You might be, but that’s exactly what it does. It’s short sighted and poorly written.

    “is only kept in place until an alternative government can prove it will command the confidence of the house”

    Incorrect. There’s only two grounds under the FTPA for *new elections* – a 50%+1 resolution of no confidence left to stand for two weeks, and a two-thirds resolution to dissolve parliament.

    There is absolutely nothing in there about alternative governments, and no way to dissolve a government without new general elections.

    You’re then talking about a different scenario entirely, the normal process after the election.

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