YouGov’s monthly poll shows the Conservatives maintaining their six point lead over Labour. The full topline figures with changes from YouGov’s Telegraph poll taken straight after the reshuffle are CON 38%(+1), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 16%(-1).
The Conservative leads reported immediately after the local elections, taken admist an air of crisis around the government, could very well have been merely a short term reflection of bad headlines. This poll, along with ICM’s poll from yesterday, suggest that the Conservative lead is somewhat more sustained – though with the Home Office still reeling from internal problems, it remains to be seen what happens to the polls once the government gets onto more even ground.
The underlying figures on economic competence and who would make the best leader also show the Conseratives gaining ground – Labour now have only a 3 point lead on which party would be better at running the economy well and Blair is only 1 point ahead of Cameron on who would make the best Prime Minister. Looking at the changes from the last election though, it is clear that the change is due to a collapse in confidence in the government, not any great surge in Conservative support. In 2005 49% of people thought Labour would be best at running the economy compared to 27% for the Tories. Labour have now fallen 17 points to 32%, but the Tories have only risen two points to 29%. On best Prime Minister – Blair has fallen 10 points since the election, but Cameron’s 27% is only 2 points above Michael Howard’s 25%. In fairness Cameron is still a relative newcomer, and people’s opinions on him are not yet fully formed. Last month he only scored 21% in the same question – so this is a large improvement.
At 16% the Liberal Democrats are again falling after having previously recovered from their difficulties at the start of the year. A 1 point fall is, obviously, not significant in itself and YouGov’s methodology does normally produce the lowest level of Liberal Democrat support of the main pollsters. Ming Campbell has faced considerable criticism over the last month, but it is debatable whether that has spread outside the Westminster Village.
The other parties continue to receive the support of 14% of people, down only slightly on last month. The BNP, who had made up the majority of the other vote, are now down to 4% with the Greens and UKIP on 3% and 4% respectively. It will be interesting to see what happens with the “other” vote – it is probably partially down to increased publicity for minor parties (especially the BNP) around the local elections, which will almost certainly fade with time, but it may also be down to people abandoning the Labour party but not being prepared to support one of the main three parties. Previous boosts for fringe parties have always declined and it will be interesting to see who gains when this one declines. It could go any way – BNP and UKIP voters are presumably more likely to move to the Tories than elsewhere, or the other votes may drift towards the Liberal Democrats, the traditional repository for voters disillusioned with both main parties, or these may merely be protesting Labour voters who will return to voting Labour once Tony Blair himself is replaced (or, of course, things could be different this time and the high level of “other support could persist into the next election – it is impossible to tell).
YouGov’s poll also asked about which party had the best policies on various issues. Like ICM it showed the Conservatives catching up Labour on the public services – YouGov gave them a 3 point lead on education (2 points in ICM’s poll), just a 2 point deficit on the NHS (2 point lead in ICM’s poll) and a large (20 point) lead on law and order. Labour’s strength remains the economy – though there are subtle differences within that. Overall Labour have a two point lead as the party with the best policies on the economy overall. YouGov also asked about “economic growth”, “inflation” and “interest rates” – on economy growth Labour had only a 1 point lead over the Tories, where they have a significant advantage over the Tories is inflation (6 point Labour lead) and interest rates (7 point Labour lead). The memory of 15% interest rates is still haunting the Tories.