More 4 News has a Populus poll on perceptions of the political parties. People were asked to rate the parties on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being very left wing and 10 being very right wing. On average voters put the Liberal Democrats at 4.55, Labour at 4.79 and the Conservatives at 6.00.

Tony Blair was rated as 4.91 on the same left-right scale – so slightly right of the Labour party – while David Cameron was rated 5.73, so slightly left of the Tories. Gordon Brown was at 4.71, suggesting he is perceived as being slightly more left-wing than Labour is at present.

I was rather confused when I first read these figures since, comparing them to what seemed to be an identical Populus poll from last September which had the Conservative party at 5.89, it appeared that people think the Conservatives under David Cameron are more right wing than under Michael Howard. This would have been an unusual result to say the least – but in actual fact that poll had a scale of 1-10, while this one has a scale of 0-10 meaning the figures are – rather disappointingly – not directly comparable.

Despite the difference in scale, one intriguing difference between the two polls is that the perceived ‘centre ground’ in politics (and despite the different scales, respondents to both surveys were told that 5 was dead centre) seems to have shifted. Last year people told Populus they saw the centre ground as a point somewhere between the Liberal Democrats and Labour, with the Tories off to the right. Now they’re telling Populus that the centre ground is a point somewhere between the Tories and Labour.

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