Saturday, 31 March 2012

BACKLASH: New poll shows depth of Tory crisis

A few days ago I assessed the latest opinion polling, and how the attitudes it revealed are connected to the current political situation. I noted that we could have reached a turning point, with the Tories in crisis and suffering in terms of both voting intentions (around a third) and approval ratings.

Here I'm updating that analysis, based on the new ComRes poll. See the data here.

This reinforces all the other findings in the last week - if anything it could be even worse for the Tories than previously identified. The findings also reinforce the impression created by George Galloway's spectacular upset in Bradford: that Labour is not exactly winning enthusiastic approval either.

The new poll doesn't ask about voting intentions, but instead poses a number of questions to gauge attitudes. Specifically it shows:

- The fiascos of this week have reinforced negative perceptions of the Tories. A massive 81% blame the Tories for creating unnecessary panic over the fuel situation (just 11% disagree) and 71% oppose the government's decision to impose a 'pasty tax' (only 17% agree with the policy).

- The 'granny tax' was a deeply unpopular budget measure: three times as many people oppose it (64%) as support it (21%).

- A perception of the Tories as 'out of touch with ordinary voters' now appears to be entrenched. 72% say they are out of touch; 17% say they aren't.

- In response to the statement I trust David Cameron and George Osborne to make the right decisions about the economy it was: Agree 25% (-4), Disagree 60% (+11) and Don't Know 15% (-7). The comparisons are with just two weeks ago, shortly before the budget. It's a big change - and if it turns out to be permanent then it's a turning point in public attitudes to government economic policy.

- The Labour Opposition is, however, faring no better than the Tories. In response to the statement I trust Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to make the right decisions about the economy it was Agree 21% (+6), Disagree 60% (+1) and Don't Know 19% (-7). It looks like the commanding Labour lead in polls is a definite anti-Tory reaction, not a vote of faith in the official opposition.

What all this adds up to is a breadth of anti-Tory feeling that stretches beyond anything seen prior to the last fortnight. With such huge majorities against the Tories on current contentious issues, it will be extremely difficult for them to bounce back.

The most revealing finidings for predicting long-term trends are surely that 72% say the Tories are out of touch and 60% saying they don't trust Cameron and Osborne on the economy (up from 49% only two weeks ago).

Put all this together with the rash of polls on voting intentions this week - putting the Tories on just 33-35% - and YouGov reporting government approval ratings as catastrophic as minus 34%, and it looks grim for the senior coalition partners. Their junior partners are irrelevant - the now-familiar phrase 'Lib Dems have lost their deposit' was heard again in Bradford this week.

But while Labour is a repository for anti-Tory sentiment, especially on cuts, its lukewarm austerity-lite is also failing to convince.

UPDATE at 10.30pm: I've just seen tonight's YouGov poll, which gives a government approval rating of -40 points.



  1. Labour is playing the same role that the Whigs did after 1815 when they preserved a very unpopular government by just going through the motions of opposition. Cobbett called them "shoyhoys" or scarecrows, inanimate and impotent though decked out as opponents of a government of whose ruthless deflationary measures they secretly approved.
    The alternative is either to contest the coalition policies by acting as Galloway has done or to allow them to firm up over time by going along with Labour's refusal to oppose on the grounds that TINA.

    Parliamentarism is often a waste of time and energy, but not at times likes like these when the masses are ready to listen to alternatives and the best podium in the land is to "shout of the window" of Parliament.

    A few more victories such as Galloway's would split off enough decent people buried in the Labour party, not to mention the sects, to establish a bloc of anti-imperialists and socialists which would turn the coalition into the National Government it wants to be and ought to be, with Ramsay MacMilliband and Balls playing the roles they were born for.

    1. Yes, I agree entirely about the need for an alternative to the two Eds - electorally and in other ways. On the electoral front there are clearly very serious obstacles, but the Galloway victory changes the context in which this is to be discussed. There undoubtedly now needs to be some serious dialogue among a range of people on the left about what is possible.