What must it be like to be Ed Miliband? A man who can't even chow down on a bacon butty without being reminded of the fact that nobody seems to like him very much.
After weeks of being monstered by the right-wing press, Labour supporters now regard him as the worst leader they have had in 20 years. His approval rating has slipped to a low previously known only to Nick Clegg, a man who three years ago was asked by his own son why people hated him so much.
The most recent polls show that only 13 percent of people think Miliband is ready to be Prime Minister, while just 21 percent are satisfied with the job he is doing as Labour leader.
Despite some popular initiatives and campaigns – being slightly less toady to the press than others, taking on energy companies – his main problem seems to be that he is apparently so unlikable. One poll from earlier this year showed that 40 percent of voters thought he was "weird". In another, respondents described him as "slimy". Not words you would want to use to describe a future Prime Minister.
I thought I would compare Ed's ratings to other hated former leaders, to see which pariahs are more popular than him.
1) Tony Blair
Remember when Tony Blair chose to lead the country into war after ignoring both international opinion and a million people demonstrated against it? The protest against the Iraq War in 2003 was the largest demonstration in the country's history. Ignoring it has led to people trying to arrest Blair for war crimes. Just before US and UK forces started bombing Iraq, a third of voters said they were satisfied with Blair's performance as Prime Minister – ten percent more than think Miliband is doing a bang up job now.
2) George W. Bush
From Blair we predictably go to Bush, a man who on leaving office had started two catastrophic wars, set his country's global reputation back decades and presided over the start of an economic meltdown. He had led an administration which had violated the constitution with its use of warrantless wire-tapping and torture at Guantanamo Bay, failed to stop the 9/11 terror attacks and was responsible for the disastrous relief operation after Hurricane Katrina. By the time Barack Obama had been elected in November 2008, he was being described by columnists as was the lamest of lame duck presidents. Still he enjoyed an approval rating of around the 30 percent on leaving office.
3) Margaret Thatcher
Maggie introduced the hated poll tax and destroyed mining and industrial communities in the north of England. Thatcher's death evoked such vitriolic hate among a large part of the population that they celebrated her death last year by getting drunk, burning effigies and trolling her funeral – a fate usually reserved for murderous tyrants with no electoral mandates. In office she coasted around a cool 40 percent approval rating, but as things went south near the end of her premiership, her approval rating slumped dramatically. On leaving Number 10 in November 1990, she was still four points better off than Miliband is right now.
4) Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi's time in office reads more like the achievements of a philandering oligarch than a Prime Minister of a major European country. In November 2011, the greasy, orange-skinned media mogul was enjoying his third stint in power when his popularity hit a new low. If the Eurozone crisis wasn't enough, he was facing down a number of legal challenges and an allegation – later successfully denied – that he had paid for sex with an underage prostitute known as "Ruby the Heartstealer". But all of this is nothing compared to having a lisp and looking like an idiot in photographs, as Silvio still had 22 percent approval rating at this time.
5) Richard M. Nixon
It was a scandal that rocked an entire nation. With the hope of the 1960s extinguished by the bullets of several assassins, Watergate did much to destroy what faith American's had left in their political system and helped create the environment we see in Washington today. As the New York Times put it in their obituary to Nixon, "in some ways, American politics never fully recovered". Nixon was by most accounts a strange and dishonest man. Worse, he was according to the tapes that meticulously documented his time in office, a fairly committed racist. "He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time," wrote Hunter S. Thompson at the time of his death. But after resigning from office in the summer of 1974, his approval rating was 24 percent. Three points higher than poor old Ed.
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