A new YouGov poll in the Sunday Times asks about all three of the government ministers under fire and suggests that the public want to see the back of all three.
48% of people said they wanted to see Prescott resign, compared to 31% who would like him to stay. This is the reverse of the ICM poll yesterday, though it’s not clear if the ICM poll was conducted marginally earlier.
In regard of the other two ministers, 53% want to see Charles Clarke leave the government, 21% would like him to stay. Asked about the release of foreign prisoners who should have been considered for deportation, 89% of respondents thought it amounted to “alarming incompetence”. 72% of people thought that the governments general handling of crime and immigration was incompetent.
51% want to see Patricia Hewitt resign, while only 19% would like her to stay. Only 7% of people agreed that Hewitt had been correct to describe the NHS as having its best year ever, 72% of respondents thought she had been wrong. Overall, 62% of people thought the NHS was being run badly, compared to 30% who thought it was generally being run well.
The last week has also damaged the Prime Minister himself – 64% of people think he is doing badly as Prime Minister compared to 33% who think he is doing well, the lowest net score recorded by YouGov for this question. In comparison David Cameron has a net score of +20 (apparantly unscathed by the Chameleon ads) and Ming Campbell has a net score of -1, though still has a large number of “don’t knows”.
On overall voting intention the topline figures, with changes from the YouGov poll for the Telegraph a week ago, are CON 35%(+2), LAB 32%(-3), LDEM 18%(+1). “Other” parties collectively account for 15% of support – the BNP make up 6% of that, marginally (thought not significantly) down on the earlier poll, perhaps because the media spotlight has moved elsewhere.
The rise in the “other” support, the proximity of the local elections and the contrasting Liberal Democrat findings from different pollsters make it difficult to draw any firm conclusions about how party support is fluctating beyond noting that the last week has, unsurprisingly, seemed to give Labour’s support a reasonable knock in the week leading up to the local elections.
The poll also included a list of questions about which party would best handle various issues. Unsurprisingly given the week’s news, the Conservatives had a substantial lead on law and order and immigration. On the economy Labour retain their lead. On education the two parties are neck and neck. The biggest surprise was health – normally it is a rock solid Labour issue, but today’s poll found only a 1 point lead for Labour on which party would best handle the issue (26% Labour, 25% Tories). For all the current media focus on law and order and John Prescott’s love life, if the Labour party lose their reputation as the best party to run the NHS they may be in real trouble.