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The (non-)effect of Hackgate

20 July 2011

5:34 PM

20 July 2011

5:34 PM

No Labour bounce, no drop in approval for Cameron or his government. That’s the impact that two weeks of front pages dominated by the phone hacking scandal on the opinion polls: 


Ed Miliband’s numbers have improved, which will come as some relief to the Labour leader who suffered a terrible month of polls in June. But despite a 13 point jump in the last fortnight, his net approval
rating has only recovered to where it was six weeks ago, and that was hardly a rosy position.

Certainly, Ed’s response to the scandal seems to have reflected well on him. 49 per cent of the public think he’s handled the affair well, compared to 36 and 33 for Cameron and Clegg respectively.
Perhaps most strikingly, even Tory supporters think he’s done well, by 44 per cent to 35. However, the only modest improvement in his approval rating (which is still very negative and well behind
Cameron’s) suggests that he is struggling to translate even this into a success; a problem that is likely to increase as Cameron recovers.

Up to now, Cameron has been be living up to his "Teflon Dave" moniker. 48 per cent of the country thinks
he’s handled the scandal badly, 51 per cent think he’s too close to News Corp executives. And yet his net approval rating has dropped just 2 points in the last fortnight – well within YouGov’s
margin of error. Perhaps today’s performance will improve his ratings.

So, why hasn’t this affected overall impressions or party allegiance? This could be because of the old "they’re all as bad as each other" mentality, particularly given that Labour’s
links to Murdoch are every bit as close as those of the Tories. Or it could be because this whole affair just isn’t as important to people as a glance at the newsstand would lead you to
believe. After all, there’s still an economic crisis on, and that’s still by far the issue that concerns people the most.


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