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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Hague The Vague? No More

The Sun has a mega-poll out today which makes interesting reading.

The YouGov 'end of term' data is a mine of info, but one finding stands out above the others: William Hague is the only politician to have a net positive rating among the voters.

The Foreign Secretary is on +11. In second place is Theresa May on -5, then David Cameron and Harriet Harman on -9, Yvette Cooper on -12 and Ed Balls on -14. Ed Miliband is on -12. But that's nothing compared to Nick Clegg and Andrew Lanasley on -35 and -34 respectively.

(Lansley* also fares very badly, however, in terms of photo-recognition: only 18% knew who he was. That may be a good thing. From what I hear, he's a man revived in recent weeks and ready to be more active this autumn).

If you re-wind to last summer, when Hague was being plagued by stories about his private life, today's findings represent a significant turnaround. Add in his less-than-surefooted start to the Arab spring and it's pretty remarkable.

Could it be that he's seen as a steady, solid figure in a Coalition of less experienced colleagues? Is the country warming to that Yorkshire brogue?

Hague is 'minding the shop' this week while Cameron and Clegg are on hols and so today's poll will come as a welcome tonic.

Then again, he knows those positive ratings could disappear as mysteriously as they emerged. Hague will never forget the ridicule he suffered when he was party leader and still blames himself for the disastrous 2001 election defeat. More than most in the Coalition, the Foreign Secretary knows just how volatile public opinion can be.

There are some more tricky findings in the overall poll figures, however.

All of the party leaders have significant negative ratings that are masked by their overall net ratings. Some 48% of people think Cameron is doing badly, 49% think Ed Miliband is doing badly and a massive 59% think Clegg is doing badly.

But perhaps the most ominous results come when the punters are asked about the performance of the Government.

The number of people who disapprove of its record to date has increased by 19 points to 58% since last October.

And, as ever, stories of splits and division unnerve the voters. The number who think the Tories and Lib Dems are working well together has plunged. As Cam and Clegg lounge on their sunbeds, those are the figures that will focus their minds most.

 

 

*FOOTNOTE: By the way, the granular detail of the YouGov poll reveals some neat quirks. Some 4% of respondents thought that a picture of Andrew Lansley was actually Chris Huhne. And 2% thought that a pic of Chris Huhne was Andrew Lansley. That'll be the grey hair for you...

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