LONDON, June 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Boris Johnson is the most popular politician in Britain, but David Cameron is regarded as a more capable Prime Minister, according to a new poll from Lord Ashcroft.
Boris is seen as more "likeable", a "people person" and someone who "gets things done" than any other senior politician, and a majority say he is "different from most politicians, and in a good way". He is also given the benefit of the doubt to a greater extent than MPs.
Yet Cameron is regarded as the best available Prime Minister and voters believe he would perform better than both Boris and Ed Miliband when it came to representing Britain internationally, making the right decisions, leading a team and doing the job overall.
Lord Ashcroft's research report, Are You Serious? Boris, the Tories and the Voters, published on Friday, is based on a poll of over 8,000 people, as well as focus groups in six locations outside London.
The findings of the research include the following:
- 53% said Boris was "different from most other politicians, and in a good way", including 42% of Labour voters and 49% of Liberal Democrats. 19% said he was the same as most other politicians and 18% that he was "not really a politician at all".
- 91% could correctly identify a photo of Boris - second only to David Cameron (94%).
- Majorities of all parties' voters thought he was doing a good job as Mayor of London. While 57% thought this was a serious job with real responsibility, 42% thought it was "mainly about generating publicity for the city rather than running anything".
- People often said he said what he thought and did not toe the party line, but few knew where he stood on any particular issue or recalled him disagreeing with the government.
- 29% said Boris would be the best Prime Minister, behind Cameron (33%) and Miliband (31%), but ahead of Nick Clegg (7%). UKIP voters were the only group more likely to name Boris as best PM than a current party leader. Conservative supporters preferred Cameron over Boris by 81% to 18%.
- Just over a third (35%) said Boris would be capable of running the country as PM and 32% said he would change Britain for the better. There was a widespread view that in Number 10 he would have to "tone down" his approach, which would take away much of what appealed to people about him in the first place.
- A majority of UKIP voters (57%) said the Conservatives would be more likely to win a general election of Boris as leader, though only 35% said this would make them more likely to vote Tory themselves. Overall, 23% said they would be more likely to vote for a Conservative Party led by Boris; 50% said it would make no difference. Conservative voters were the most likely to say Boris as leader would reduce the party's chances of winning an election.
- Analysis of the poll found the electorate into five 'segments' of opinion: Tory/UKIP-leaning "Boris Fanatics" (21% of voters); Conservative "Borisophiles" (21% of voters), "Boris Realists" (29% of voters), Labour-leaning "Boris Sceptics" (20% of voters), and "Rejectionists" (9%) who are unlikely to vote and have a low opinion of all politicians.
In his commentary on the research, published on Conservative Home on Friday, Lord Ashcroft comments on the particularly strong support for Boris among UKIP supporters:
"The overlap between UKIP-inclined voters and those who most strongly back the idea of Boris as Prime Minister is surely no coincidence. The fact that Boris has been among the most outspoken supporters of immigration and gay marriage shows that this is nothing whatsoever to do with policy.
"The idea of Prime Minister Boris appeals most to those who have the most jaded view of what politics can achieve for the country and themselves. Though they often think Boris is cleverer and more competent than he is sometimes given credit for, this is beside the point. It is the antithesis of the idea that serious times call for serious people; rather, in an age when our problems seem beyond the capacity of governments to solve, we might as well have a leader who cheers us all up."
Noting that Boris attracted other parties' voters in his Mayoral campaigns, Lord Ashcroft questions whether this would happen to the same extent in a general election:
"Otherwise-Labour and Lib Dem supporting voters backed Boris as Mayor on a personal mandate and a personal manifesto; for many, the fact that he was a Tory was incidental. Asking them to vote for a Conservative government, inhabited by the Conservative Party and implementing Conservative policies but with Boris at the helm, would be a rather different proposition."
Lord Ashcroft concludes:
"There is no doubt that Boris is a great asset to his party, and I think his time as Mayor has shown that he is up to the demands of executive office. But ultimately, were it to come to pass, the fact of having Boris as leader would not make the things that stop people voting Tory go away, and it would be a gamble to assume he would trump them. The question 'are you serious?' would not just be one the voters asked of Boris: it would demand an answer of a party that thought an entertaining new leader would be enough by itself to win them over."
Notes to Editors
- 8,051 adults were interviewed online between 26 April and 6 May, and an additional 2,054 between 12 and 14 June 2013. Results have been weighted to be representative of all adults in Great Britain. Twelve focus groups were held in Eastleigh, Taunton, Warrington, Leeds, Huntingdon and Nuneaton between 28 May and 13 June 2013.
- Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, author and philanthropist. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Crimestoppers, a member of the Board of the Imperial War Museum and a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum Foundation, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and Treasurer of the International Democrat Union. From 2005 to 2010 he was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
- His political books and research papers include Smell The Coffee (2005), Minority Verdict (2010), What Future For Labour? (2010), What Future For The Liberal Democrats? (2010), Crime, Punishment & The People (2011), Project Blueprint (2011 & 2012), The Leadership Factor (2011), Degrees of Separation (2012), The Armed Forces & Society (2012), Blue Collar Tories (2012), Project Red Alert (2012), They're Thinking What We're Thinking: Understanding The UKIP Temptation (2012), What Are The Liberal Democrats For? (2013) and MarginalTerritory (2013).
- Full details of Lord Ashcroft's polling and commentary can be found at LordAshcroftPolls.com, where you can sign up for news alerts. You can also follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft.