The monthly YouGov poll for the Telegraph suggests that Labour have so far survived the recent furore over party loans unscathed, while some of the shine has begun to wear off of David Cameron. The topline figures, with changes from the YouGov/Sunday Times polls earlier in the month are CON 36%(-2), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 18%(-1).
The period since the last YouGov poll has seen the budget, but far more media attention has been paid to the issue of party funding, and specifically the question of secret party loans which has now rumbled on for over two weeks. Perhaps surprisingly the issue does not seem to have done any damage to Labour’s support – perhaps simply because people already assumed that peerages could be bought by donations, or perhaps because people see politicans as all as bad as one another, rather than attaching blame to the Labour party alone.
In contrast the level of Conservative support has fallen – this is probably part of the wider trend picked up by other polling companies who have shown the level of Conservative support dropping in the past month, though the Conservative party’s refusal until now to reveal the names of their own donors may be a contributing factor.
David Cameron’s net approval rating has also fallen – down from +27 in the last YouGov/Telegraph poll to +14 this month. I’ve mentioned repeatedly in the past that new Conservative leaders have normally followed a pattern of having positive approval ratings to begin with, which have then fallen as the early “don’t knows” become disapproves. This is not that pattern – the proportion of people who say they don’t know (38%) has not fallen, rather the proportion of people who approve of Cameron has fallen. Again, this could be a result of his decision not to reveal the loans, or could be related to his budget response – one of the few House of Commons speeches people do watch, which consisted almost entirely of the “Punch and Judy” politics he had signified that he rejected (or, of course, it could be a rogue poll – you should always be careful not to read too much into a single poll).
Tony Blair’s approval rating is also down – his net approval is now -30 points and 49% of people think he is a liability to the Labour party. While Gordon Brown’s approval ratings are still relatively high with a net score of +19, his star also seems to be on the wane. A year ago 52% of people though that Brown was doing a better job as Chancellor than Blair was as PM, now only 37% do. While 50% of people continue to think Brown is an asset to the Labour party, this is down from 63% a year ago and over a quarter (27%) now think Brown is a liability. Most strikingly, asked which of the two men they would rather see as Prime Minister, Brown now leads Blair by only 1 point, 31% to 30%, compared to a 10 point lead a year ago.
Finally YouGov asked about the budget and NHS finance. Overall there was a slight thumbs down to the budget – 44% thought it was unfair, while 37% thought it was fair. 50% agreed there was a black hole in the public finances. On the NHS, 64% of people thought there was a financial crisis within the NHS with all hospitals being forced to cut back on patient care, 25% thought there were only isolated incidents affecting relatively few patiences.