Intelex consultant Juliette Gerstein provides an update on the latest polls and what this means for Ed Miliband.

This week’s polling data will not be easy reading for Labour and Ed Miliband, particularly coming as we approach Conference season. We concluded last month that although the Conservatives’ polling performance was improving, it may not be enough to win the election, but looking at today’s polls, Conservatives may think that Ed Miliband is in fact their best weapon in the forthcoming election.

The Labour Party has maintained their overall lead in the polls; the latest YouGov poll for The Times gives them a six point lead, which is consistent with the UKPollingReport current average. However, within that, the detail is more interesting.

YouGov also asked who would make the best Prime Minister, and found a 17-point lead for Cameron over Miliband. They also asked ‘If you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Ed Miliband?’ When the preferences of all voters were combined, 41% chose the Conservatives and 40% Labour. Miliband does not even appear to have the support of his own Party; 68% of voters cannot see him as Prime Minister, including 42% of Labour voters.

This appears to be consistent with yesterday’s Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard. These polls usually show larger leads for Labour, but this month Labour are only ahead by 3%, owing to both a fall in support for Labour and an increase in support for the Conservatives. This poll also gives Miliband his worst approval rating ever, down to -36, which is 16 points below Cameron. Amongst Labour supporters, 52% are dissatisfied with how he is doing his job, the first time this figure has been over half, while Cameron has the backing of 71% of Conservative voters.

It is clear that the Conservatives are being helped by more positive economic news, and they will welcome this ahead of the Conference season. For Labour, this risks a return to the summer’s speculation about Miliband’s leadership. Regicide looks unlikely – Labour have poor form in this area – but instead an unhappy Conference looms.