UK Opposition Leader Miliband Reaches Historic Low in Polls

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Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband speaks at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference in London November 10, 2014. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Britain’s Labour Party has received a fresh blow following weeks of infighting and leadership speculation after a poll published today showed a three-point lead for the Conservatives and reveal Ed Miliband as one of the most unpopular UK party leaders of all time.

The survey of voting intentions, carried out by Ipsos Mori for the Evening Standard, places the Tories on 32% compared to Labour’s 29%, just six months away from next year’s general election.

Only 13% of those polled said that they believed that Miliband was “ready to be prime minister”, an unprecedented low in Ipsos Mori polls. Today’s result surpasses even that of September 2003, when a mere 16% of respondents agreed that Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith was ready to lead the country. Miliband’s ratings have dropped by four points since this time last year, and his personal popularity is currently lower than Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Dissatisfaction with Miliband was even shared by Labour Party supporters, 53% of whom said that he was not ready to lead, with only 35% in favour. Ipsos Mori said that the result constitutes the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded for any party leader within their own political camp in 20 years of polling history.

According to Ipsos Mori pollsters, “this is the lowest proportion to back the Leader of the Opposition as ready for the premiership that we have recorded, going back to Tony Blair in 1994.”

Speculation about Miliband’s future was rife at the weekend, with the Observer newspaper claiming to have spoken to 20 shadow ministers who had said they were ready to force Miliband to stand down should former home secretary Alan Johnson put himself forward for the leadership. Johnson subsequently backed Miliband, ruling himself out of ever leading the party.

Miliband’s popularity dipped in September after a poor performance at his party’s annual conference where he failed to mention the budget. The Labour Party is viewed as weaker on the economy than the Conservatives, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, when they were in power under Gordon Brown.

Following today’s poll, an unnamed Labour MP told the Evening Standard that “if the numbers carry on like this [Miliband] will have to go by Christmas, irrespective of whether there is someone waiting in the wings to take over.

“We cannot go into a general election knowing we are going to lose,” they added.

Renewed speculation about his leadership threatens to overshadow a major speech on the economy by Ed Miliband in Central London tomorrow.