Attacking Michael Gove Is One Of The Easiest Ways To Win In UK Politics

Exclusive polling for BuzzFeed explains why the education secretary is going to get a kicking in the run up to the general election. Not that the public has much time for other politicians.

Olivia Harris / Reuters

2. Attacking Michael Gove is one the best tactics for UK political parties in the run up to the next general election, according to a BuzzFeed/YouGov poll of 1,900 people.

Most of the public claim to be disgusted by negative political campaigning, which occurs when politicians attack their opponents rather put forward positive ideas. But political parties persist with it because they believe it’s an effective way of mobilising voters, just so long as you pick your opponent carefully.

In attempt to work out who will bear the brunt of these attacks as the 2015 general election approaches, BuzzFeed asked members of YouGov’s polling panel to name their most disliked Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politician.

These are the MPs who can expect to get a rough time, get briefed against and generally have a deeply unpleasant twelve months.

3. The poll found Michael Gove is the most hated Conservative politician among the general population.

View this embed ›

Anger at the education secretary reaches parts of the electorate that others can’t touch, with a high percentage of the population naming the architect of the government’s school reforms as their most hated Conservative.

Most polling finds that public anger follows media coverage: the more high-profile the politician, the more they’re disliked. But Gove is unusual. He is more disliked than both David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne, the public faces of the coalition government, despite receiving substantially less press attention.

5. And the anger at Gove goes off the scale when you only consider Liberal Democrat voters.

View this embed ›

Most remaining Liberal Democrats are fairly at ease with leading coalition members such as Cameron and Osborne but they really, really can’t stand Gove. In part this may be to do with the Lib Dems’ traditional support base among teachers and public sector workers.

The Lib Dems know this. Although this BuzzFeed/YouGov poll is the first time that this data has been made public, reports have previously alluded to the Lib Dems commissioning private polling which revealed the anger at Gove among their core voter base.

So, despite having a Lib Dem minister in the education department for the entire period that Michael Gove pushed through his radical education reforms, the Lib Dems have read the figures and are aiming fire at the education secretary.

6. Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws has since set to work, busily briefing against his cabinet colleague Gove.

 

The Lib Dems hope that sticking some distance between them and Gove will shore up support in key Conservative-Lib Dem marginal seats. The message is simple: don’t mind the coalition but hate the education reform, free schools or the new curriculum? Vote Lib Dem!

7. A poll to find the most disliked Lib Dem politician revealed that UKIP voters have an unusually deep hatred of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

View this embed ›

General awareness of most Lib Dem politicians is so minimal that the public don’t dislike many of them.

But there were still some clear patterns: UKIP voters really dislike Nick Clegg, Conservative voters have an unusual level of dislike for business secretary Vince Cable and likely Labour voters have a thing against Treasury secretary Danny Alexander.

8. And these are the most disliked Labour MPs.

View this embed ›

Most voters focussed their anger on party leader Ed Miliband, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and a selection of backbench MPs such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The only other Labour shadow minister to attract any significant anger was Harriet Harman. But this isn’t definitely good news for the party: either the public really likes what it sees on the rest of the Labour front bench or voters barely knows who they are.

9. The 1,900 respondents were also allowed to write in alternative suggestions for their most hated politician. Here is a selection of responses:

All of them
all of them
all of them
All of the above plus that Eagle woman
all of them
all of them
All of them useless
all of them-they look after their own
Can’t choose between Hunt and Gove
Chope
every single horrible runt of them
peter mandelson
tomy blair
Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Diana Johnson
Steve McCabe
Matthew Oakeshot
michael moore as he sold out
Norman Lamb
Norman lamb
Simon Hughes
I do not like any of them very much
I HATE ALL OF THEM
the whole lot of them are liars
Nick Boles
nick boles

It’s going to be a nasty election.

Poll sample size was 1,907 adults, drawn from YouGov’s paid political panel. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30 April and 1 May 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all British adults (aged 18+).

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
 
  Your Reaction?
 

    Contributions

    Now Buzzing