The British Public Still Thinks Ed Miliband Is Weird

Exclusive polling for BuzzFeed reveals that the Labour leader continues to be seen as unusual by the U.K. electorate. And this is why it matters.

1. The British public still think Ed Miliband is weird, according to polling carried out on behalf of BuzzFeed.

Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

Ever since becoming Labour leader Ed Miliband has been dogged by the perception that he is quite strange.

And with just over a year to go until the general election the Conservatives are preparing to focus their attacks on Miliband himself, asking the public whether they really want this man as their Prime Minister.

To see whether these attacks are likely to be a success BuzzFeed asked polling company YouGov to investigate how the public perceives the Labour leader. And it’s not all good news for Miliband.

2. We asked 1,942 people to say whether they think each political leader is “weird”.

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Members of YouGov’s panel concluded that Miliband is the weirdest of the party leaders.

3. And young voters are disproportionately likely to perceive Ed Miliband as weird.

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These numbers rise in area of the country that contain crucial swing seats: Miliband is perceived to be weird by 47% of those in the South of England and 45% of men.

Northerners and Scots are more likely to give Miliband the benefit of the doubt.

4. Why does this matter? Well, the Conservatives are increasingly attacking Miliband as an individual.

Expect to see more negative campaigning in the run-up to the 2015 election, as campaigns spend their time highlighting an opponent’s perceived deficiencies. People claim to hate negative campaigning but it is one of the most effective tactics in politics.

This is why such public perceptions really matter: the Conservatives hope that they can convince swing voters to vote Tory by asking whether they really want to see Ed Miliband leading their country. This task is made a lot easier if people start with the presumption that the Labour leader is a bit strange.

(Although there are risks that this approach could backfire and instead win sympathy for the Labour leader.)

6. Miliband is perceived quite differently to other party leaders in other respects. Here’s what happened when we asked people to describe how the party leaders would have been at school.

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Among his fellow party leaders Miliband is considered the most likely to be bullied at school, the most likely to have been unpopular at school and the hardest working at school.

7. It’s not all bad news for the Labour leader. The poll also found Miliband is seen as the most honest of the party leaders.

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Although the low standing of politicians means that just 28% of the population think the Labour leader is telling the truth.

8. But Labour still has a fight to convince the public that Miliband isn’t, well, a bit strange.

Neil Hall / Reuters

And whether the party can change that perception could swing the result of the 2015 election.

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