Following on from Tuesday’s Populus poll showing an 8 point Tory lead, a new YouGov poll in the Telegraph also shows the Conservatives pulling further ahead in the wake of the local elections. The topline figures, with changes from the last YouGov poll carried out in the midst of the Prescott and foreign prisoner release scandal, are CON 37%(+2), LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 17%(-1). The BNP vote remains high at 6%.

The Conservative and Labour scores are comparable to those in Populus’s poll – the poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, when the immediate sense of crisis around the government had begun to abate, but the difference between the polls is insignificant (the difference in the level of Lib Dem is long standing, and presumably methodological, and the high BNP support is, as I mentioned in my last post, likely to be a result of self-completion of YouGov surveys).

YouGov found that net approval ratings for Tony Blair had fallen to -40, the lowest so far in his premiership (and down 10 points from the last YouGov/Telegraph poll – YouGov/Sunday Times polls use different wording). According to the Telegraph, the 26% of people approving of Blair as PM is lower than Harold Wilson after the devalution of the pound.

Reaction to the reshuffle was broadly negative. While a large majority of people agreed that Tony Blair was right to sack Charles Clarke (68% agree to 15% disagree), 61% of people thought that John Prescott should also have gone, and 83% agreed that, despite Prescott retaining some duties, it was unacceptable for him to retain his full salary and grace-and-favour homes.

There were strong partisan differences regarding John Prescott – Conservative respondents overwhelmingly (83%) thought he should have been sacked, Labour voters were quite evenly split – 35% thought Blair had done the correct thing in relation to Prescott, 34% thought he should have gone. Regarding his continued use of his grace-and-favour homes though large majorities from all parties thought it was outrageous, including 67% of Labour voters.

Finally there is the question of Blair’s leadership. 41% of people would like Blair to stand down this year, with a further 13% wanting him to go next year. Only 20% want him to serve for the full Parliament. Amongst Labour voters 22% want him to go this year, 29% next year and 26% want him to remain for the full term. Asked if he should set a timetable for his departure, 53% agreed, but 58% of Labour voters disagreed.

The present damage that the situation is doing to the Labour party though is undeniable – asked if the party was united or divided 83% of people thought it was divided, including 66% of Labour voters. Only 6% of people thought that the Labour party was united.


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