Today’s Telegraph has the first poll about sleaze since Lord Levy’s arrest. While Levy has not been charged the media coverage around the arrest was huge, and we can expect it to make some form of impact on public opinion.

The percentage of people now thinking that Labour give the impression of being “very sleazy and disreputable” has now reached 69%, up from 62% in April. While old Gallup polls are not strictly comparable to YouGov poll, to put the figure in context 63% of people told Gallup in 1997 that the then Conservative government gave the impression of being very sleazy and disreputable.

Percentage seeing party as “very sleazy and disreputable”

  Gallup 1997 June 2002 Dec 2002 April 2006 Now
Labour 19 56 58 62 69
Conservatives 63 33 34 33 29

Asked the same question about the Conservatives, only 29% of people though they gave the impression of being “very sleazy and disreputable”, a slight drop (YouGov has asked this same question 4 times since 2002, and every previous time 33-34% thought the Tories were very sleazy and disreputable). It seems as the loans for peerages scandal is not just making Labour look sleazy, it is making the Tories look unsleazy in comparison.

There is overwhelming (81%) backing for the police investigation into the affair, and while a quarter of people are reserving judgement, the vast majority who have opinion think that Labour did offer peerages for loans (65% to 9%), that Tony Blair knew about it (65% to 13%) or if not, at least someone in Downing Street did (78% to 7%).

Asked about the best way forward in the future, 87% think that large loans to parties should be declared to the Electoral Commisson (only 3% disagree) and 77% think that spending limits for parties at General Elections should be further reduced. A slight majority of those with an opinion think that state funding would help solve the problem (47% to 37%), but only around half of those who think it would help would actually support state funding for policitical parties.

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