Bloomberg News

Cameron Poll Ratings Leap After Summit Snub to Rest of Europe

December 15, 2011

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s personal poll ratings improved and his Conservative Party moved ahead of the opposition after he refused to join in a European Union-wide pact to rescue the euro, YouGov Plc said.

The percentage of respondents who say Cameron “sticks to what he believes in” rose to 39 percent in a survey published today from 26 percent before the premier made his stand at an EU summit in Brussels last week. The number viewing him as “decisive” increased to 29 percent from 20 percent. Cameron’s scores rose for six of eight attributes voters were questioned about.

The boost draws parallels with a turnabout in the fortunes of a previous Tory premier, Margaret Thatcher, at the time of the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, YouGov President Peter Kellner said. “Cameron seems to be benefiting from a ‘Europe Factor,’” he noted, while warning that it’s far too early to tell if the poll gain will last.

“The broad parallels with the early stages of the Falklands War are uncanny,” Kellner said in an e-mailed commentary. “Then, as now, Britain’s prime minister gained credit for decisive action and escaped public blame for the failings that precipitated the crisis. Then, as now, soaring personal ratings of a Conservative leader converted into extra support for their party.”

‘Diplomatic Fiasco’

Kellner compared the “diplomatic fiasco” of British officials failing to detect the threat of an invasion of the Falklands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas, with the failure of ministers and officials to prepare the ground before the EU summit. Cameron blocked a treaty change backed by other EU members over concerns it might harm London’s finance industry.

The improvement in Cameron’s personal ratings comes as those of Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband continue to decline, YouGov said.

Support for the Conservatives was at 40 percent in today’s YouGov tracker poll for the Sun newspaper, compared with 38 percent for Labour and 10 percent for the Lib Dems. That echoed the 2-point Conservative lead the previous day “after a year of almost unbroken Labour leads,” Kellner said.

YouGov surveyed 1,751 adults on Dec. 13 and yesterday for its latest poll, for which no margin of error was given. The pre-summit ratings for Cameron are from a survey carried out Dec. 4-5, four days before the Brussels talks.

To be sure, Kellner said, a parallel with another Tory premier might serve as a warning for Cameron. Anthony Eden “remained popular for some weeks” after invading Egypt in 1956.

“But eventually the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Eden resigned, and ‘Suez’ became the four-letter word that defined Britain’s greatest post-war foreign-policy disaster,” Kellner wrote. “It may be well into next year before we know whether Cameron’s stand within the EU ends up like the Falklands victory, the Suez debacle, or something completely different.”

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Fergal O’Brien

To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in London at ebuckle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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