Poll shows Coalition’s honeymoon now over


2:12 pm - July 20th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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YouGov’s Peter Kellner has just send out an update on the government stating: The honeymoon is over. Apoproval of the government’s policies has dropped sharply over the past few weeks.

Here is the editorial, in the form of key points:

——
1. The contrast with 1997, when Tony Blair came to power, is telling. Immediately after his landslide victory, 76% approved of his government’s performance, while 13% disapproved. That net rating of plus 63 (that is, 76 minus 13) was never likely to be repeated. But four months in, the net rating was still plus 54, and after twelve months, plus 32. Apart from a blip in March 1998, the net rating did not fall into single figures until September 1999, more than two years into Blair’s first term.

2. The figures this time are very different. On May 17/18 – a week after the coalition was formed, 39% approved of the Government’s performance, while 26% disapproved and as many as 35% said ‘don’t know’. Many of the ‘don’t knows’ were plainly waiting to see how this novel way of governing Britain worked out.

3. Five weeks later, after George Osborne’s emergency Budget, the contours of coalition strategy were becoming more familiar. The ‘don’t knows’ were down to 25% – and a larger number of voters were willing to give the coalition the benefit of the doubt. Its net approval rating had climbed to plus 21 (approve 48%, disapprove 27%). Many voters liked the tough talk about Britain’s problems, and they blamed Labour for the country’s plight.

4. But that proved to be the high point. Over the past four weeks, the coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly. Our latest figures report a net rating of plus four (approve 41%, disapprove 37%). In just over two months, the coalition’s rating has declined to levels that were not reached for almost three years under Tony Blair.

5. Just 44% of voters supported Labour in 1997: 61% voted for one of the coalition parties this May. But whereas millions of people who did NOT vote Labour liked the actions of the incoming Blair government, large numbers of people who DID vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat this year are NOT keen on the coalition’s performance.

6. Many voters are growing queasy about the coming spending cuts. No longer is it possible for most of us to believe that these will be confined to efficiency savings and services that affect other people.

Breakdown by party

7. In mid-June 80% of Tories approved of the government’s rating; this has now risen to 84%. The figures for the Liberal Democrats are more striking. Among those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, opinions are divided: just 40% approve of the coalition’s performance, while 36% disapprove. No wonder Lib Dem support has slumped since the coalition was formed.

Indeed, of those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, just 46% would vote for the party if an election were held now, while 18% would vote Labour, 9% Conservative and 5% for other parties; 22% are ‘don’t knows’ or ‘won’t votes’. To be sure, the Lib Dems have picked up some support from voters who like their involvement the coalition, but there are too few of these to offset the deserters. Overall, Lib Dem support is down by one-third since the election.

8. The other striking change concerns the attitudes of Labour supporters. In mid-June, 14% approved of the coalition’s performance, while 51% disapproved and 35% said ‘don’t know’. In other words, around a half of all Labour voters declined to condemn the Conservative-led government. Now the figures are: Approve 6%, disapprove 79%, don’t know 14%. Partly this reflects a hardening of the attitudes of long-standing Labour supporters; but it also reflects the fact that Labour has gained ground since the election, as it monopolises the growing protest vote. It is about ‘disapprovers’ switching to Labour, not just Labour voters becoming ‘disapprovers’.

9. The early signs from the current parliament are that Labour will be the overwhelming beneficiary if the coalition stumbles.

10. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have not yet exhausted supplies of popular goodwill; their personal ratings, thought not as high as in early June, remain positive. We should also note that Conservative support, unlike that of the Lib Dems, is higher than it was on election day.

Peter Kellner ends by saying:

If the ministers manage to reduce government spending without seriously damaging either front-line services or the wider economy, they can expect the electorate to resume its love affair with the coalition. But, if not, then Clegg in particular will have his work cut out to restore his party’s popularity and to revive his supporters’ faith in his version of partnership politics.

Without damaging front-line services or the economy? Fat chance… that damage is already happening.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


And it feels like an indictment of the voting system that has got us here. Purely my opinion, but I think people have been hoping that a Tory government (coalition or otherwise) wouldn’t be the same type of Tories we’ve had in the past…the clear picture now is that it is generally the same deal.

I honestly still believe the majority of this country want a left leaning government, and the FPTP system we have ended up delivering something else because Labour were no longer universally trusted to provide that.

Let’s get AV on the table, then we can have a government entirely more representative of the country’s general wishes from constituency to constituency.

It’s easiest to be in Government at a time of stable growth, a solid fiscal position and no serious opposition. Blair had all three, Cameron has only one.

@2, whereas what, Brown had delightfulness and a pony?

The only interesting datapoint on polling at this point is whether the Tories would win (ie actually win, not, erm, lose like they did in May) a snap election. If it reaches that stage, we’re probably on call for one (with various Liberal Judases being parachuted into safe seats). If not, then the coalition will actually coalesce.

4. Shatterface

There seems to have been a mismanagement of expectations as well. For some reason some people seem to have expected the Liberal Democrats to be economically left wing as well as politically liberal. They’re not. They’re closer to the Tories on economics and closer the the liberal part of Labour that has been silent for the last decade or so.

John B,

My understanding is that the Tories have been polling in the mid-40s, about 7 points ahead of Labour with the Lib Dems around 15% in recent weeks. This would likely give them a small overall majority. Plus they are probably the only major party that can afford another election campaign at this stage.

Nonetheless, the effect of the LDs in this coalition has been so miniscule thus far that the Tories are probably safer keeping the large-ish majority they currently have with their ineffective junior partners.

“the liberal part of Labour that has been silent for the last decade or so.”

I had assumed that anyone with liberal views in the Labour party had been put in a sack and thrown down a mine shaft. Are they really still there but inaudable?

@2, whereas what, Brown had delightfulness and a pony?

No Brown had, for the most part, a disastrous economy, a ruinous deficit and a grown up opposition. He also had, for the most part, epically disastrous polling results. Which doesn’t go all that far to disproving my point. The Tories haven’t yet polled 15% in an election…

8. Sunder Katwala

One really interesting detail is that the honeymoon ain’t over with Tory voters: more than 8 out of 10 Tory cats still like CleggCameronism.

They were enthusiastic when it was formed – and are even keener after the budget.

It is that Tory enthusiasm for the Coalition is now maintaining its net positive ratings.

It’s easiest to be in Government at a time of stable growth, a solid fiscal position and no serious opposition. Blair had all three, Cameron has only one.

Nice try – but you’re not reading the figures properly.

The Coalition’s plans actively pushed away wavering Labour voters and lots of Libdems – that’s why the polls have dived. It didn’t have to be that way. But you reap what you sow.

To compare the 2010 election with the 1997 election is wide of the mark. Blair swept to power on a landslide, while Cameron slipped in the back door after failing to get a majority. The Tories did not win the 2010 election! Labour, despite gleeful predictions from the usual lot, were not wiped out, like the Tories in 1997.

Point 5 however is an important point – Tory and Liberal voters are not getting what they actually voted (or thought they were voting) for – instead they are getting this hodge-podge manifesto drawn up in backrooms following the election.

It’s interesting how the right-wingers developed this meme about Brown being ‘an unelected PM’ (which in British constitutional terms makes no sense) despite the fact that the Labour Party broadly continued with the manifesto and program that they had won an election on. And yet neither David Cameron, nor the Con Dem manifesto/policy program, has managed to win an election. Surely the governments course of action is more relevant than the figurehead leading it?

The Coalition’s plans actively pushed away wavering Labour voters and lots of Libdems – that’s why the polls have dived. It didn’t have to be that way. But you reap what you sow.

Of course they have – and for two reasons. The first is that it’s really not possible to deliver pain free cuts to public spending – in 97 Labour didn’t have to. The second is a political calculation to take as much of the hit as possible as early as possible; to spend political capital while you still have it. That’s a reaction to the perception that Labour basically wasted almost the whole of their first term by not really doing anything.

Besides, as others have said, the figures go both ways. The Tories are polling in low to mid 40s – 7 points up from the election. It’s the Lib Dems that have taken the hit. Although it’s probably also worth waiting for a pollster other than YouGov to get a poll out, as You Gov historically seem to undercount Lib Dems.

12. Sunder Katwala

But Gary@10 – but that doesn’t explain, why has Tory support for the Coalition increased, while LibDem support has fallen?

Labour, despite gleeful predictions from the usual lot, were not wiped out, like the Tories in 1997.

In fact, they polled worse than John Major in 97 – he managed 31%, while Brown could only scrape to 29%. The vagaries of electoral arithmetic disguise this rather important point.

@3
I don’t think a snap election is on the table at all for Cameron. He knows that the Tories are gaining a lot by being in the coaltion (LDs taking the blame from the left and right, the illusion of “new politics”, the sidelining of divisive Tory issues like Europe etc). He has no reason to break it up for another 5 years. Also, if he dumps the LDs at this stage he will lose a lot of goodwill from the public at large.

I think you’ll only see a snap election if the LDs walk out on the coalition – and that’s really unlikely (for now).

#12

To be honest, at the moment the coalition is functioning as a Tory government, whilst Lib Dem priorities have been shelved or put on the backburner. When (or if) the Lib Dems do start putting pressure on to assert themselves – think the AV referendum, or if the EU forces its way onto the agenda – the Tory voters may start to feel differently.

#13

I beg to differ – in terms of parliamentary politics, which we are discussing, surely the number of seats is the most important issue? Either way, if Labour can get less votes but have a more significant base in Parliament, surely this is an electoral strength and not a weakness?

I beg to differ – in terms of parliamentary politics, which we are discussing, surely the number of seats is the most important issue? Either way, if Labour can get less votes but have a more significant base in Parliament, surely this is an electoral strength and not a weakness?

Up to a point, of course it is. But Labour’s seemingly strong position in Parliament rests on some poor numbers – and with a reorganisation of both constituencies and the voting system it might be best not to bank on Labour’s over-representation continuing.

17. Shatterface

‘I had assumed that anyone with liberal views in the Labour party had been put in a sack and thrown down a mine shaft. Are they really still there but inaudable?’

Well, you know those Labour MP’s who have suddenly revealed they were ‘always’ against the detention of refugee children, ID cards, etc? I must be thinking of them 😉

Why hasn’t Labour forced the EU onto the agenda? I realise there are probably those in the Party who wouldn’t want a snap election in the next few months, but exposing the splinters in the coalition could hardly hurt. Essentially this is a 1990s Tory Government, split on pretty much the same issues as they were. Might as well attack on that basis.

19. margin4error

The key difference is that after 1997 the tories collapsed. It wasn’t the election that did that. It was the chaotic nature of opposing forces attacking eachother within the party.

So far the most surprising thing about Labour’s leadership is how genuinely friendly so much of it has been, and how positively their membership has taken to debating the party’s role.

@3: wish it would deliquesce! Or for the Clameregg franknstein to disintegrate into dust like the vampire it is!

Suck on that ya Liberal mofos!!!

Attempts to bathe the wounds (aka self pity) are understood, but talk of a honeymoon period is utterly, and I mean completely utterly, irrelevant in these circumstances.

The coalition holds the cards and I am completely delighted with that. Market sentiment is not only paramount but is positive. Pushing the prospects for Labour being at the helm entirely beyond the horizon.

But, take note. There’s a much more substantive indicator than mere poll results; I alone, expect to suffer the consequences of Browns Labour Government practically bankrupting the UK while MP’s scandalously expensed their already overpaid lives.

This experience means that while I once voted Labour, the pain we pass onto future generations will not only linger FOR DECADES but almost assures that Labour will not see the chance of power for much, much longer.

I am equally comfortable with that.

The interesting point is that the Lib Dems are destroying themselves.

People talk about Labour in 1983 and the longest suicide note in history. But the Lib Dems have loaded the gun, pointed it at themselves, and pulled the trigger. They are finished as a party of the left or centre. They have been eaten alive by the tories. They cease to exist. We are all tories now they sing.

Sally LibDem views seem to stop themselves from standing firm against anything like the modern currency of left or right wing politics.

The present membership departures are a shameful expose that LibDem are also unlikely to hold their own reigns in the modern era.

Talk of .. “the Lib Dems have loaded the gun, pointed it at themselves, and pulled the trigger”.. isn’t going to improve matters but serves only to .. “finish off the party”.

The LibDems need to get a grip and become an essential moderating part of the political future.

25. Margin4eror

Polleetickle

I never much trusted the Lib Dems to stand for anything left-wing anyway – I always felt they were only left-leaning when it was opportune to be left-leaning – And Clegg I think sees his party as a long term pro-european tory party.

But in the unlikely event that AV passes into law, I think they will be finished. The Greens will be most Labour voters second choice. Most left leaning Lib Dems will have left (they are losing about 1% support every ten days) – and they will have made the same mistake Labour did with Ramsey Mcdonald.

Why hasn’t Labour forced the EU onto the agenda?

Probably because, thank goodness, there aren’t any big EU issues/treaties on the horizon except, possibly, financial regulation on which issue Labour will find it rather tricky to battle.

References to historic political destructions aren’t meritable in my view because the relative manpower, economic, humanity, welfare, cultural, travel, security, terrorism, currencies, trades and global internationalisation and influence, are possibly as varied as could be envisaged at any time.

The departing LibDems membership therefore draws interesting consideration; Clearly, the angst of not coming close to securing their own parliament (as they dreamed plausible) mixed with the compelling desire to part from an association with the Conservatives (the anti-Christ to some), clearly clouds the reality of walking into the laps of the party (the devil to others) that not only absolutely failed this nation so miserably on too many fronts to begin describing here, but also risked associations with other countries and a once positive international reputation.

Tim J/13: True, but the Lib Dem vote share rose significantly between 1997 and 2010 (though their number of seats did not) so the Con/Lab figures aren’t directly comparable anyway.

In 1997, Lab share / Con share = 1.4
In 2010, Con share / Lab share = 1.25

In that respect 2010 is closer to 2001 (1.28) than 1997.

29. margin4error

polleetickle

I’ve no idea why your list of stuff makes drawing parallels between two leaderships undermining their parties by forming coalitions an invalid thing to do. Sorry.

I don’t think LibDems really thought they could win the election outright. But many of their voters thought their party was a social democratic party – which support for the recent budget suggests was simply wrong. Hence the fall in support.

That they may therefore vote Labour (an actual social-democratic party that did things like redistribution and higher spending on public services) or Green is not so significant as that they won’t vote Lib Dem again. Indeed many right-leaning libdems will probably see little point voting for the junior part of a right wing coalition and switch to the tories too.

And were AV to pass we could see LibDems depend on second votes from tories to keep them afloat.

margin4error

You might be better positioned than me to judge the leadership parallels. My point being; its now a different world and the present LibDem party will survive.

I consider that Nick Clegg has made an outstanding move for his party and the country will be the better for it. LibDem members should stay, work harder, exhaust themselves and moderate the coalition. (note: I said LibDem dreamed not deemed, a plausible win)

There’s certainly nothing to be had from LibDem members walking to Labour (champagne socialists) who don’t have a chance of power for 13+ years in my view. Labour; redistribution? (of expenses!) public services? (..sector statisticians!) Green? (its a joke, much is dumped together and shipped abroad!)

AV was likely to be thus.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  2. sunny hundal

    Here are the stats, broken down RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  3. Tom Worth

    RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  4. sunny hundal

    "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  5. sunny hundal

    @AlexMcKerrow @jameseasylol here you go: http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  6. Lucy Sweetman

    RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  7. NewLeftProject

    RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  8. Mary Hamilton

    RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  9. Lucy Palmer

    Huh. GOOD. RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  10. Amandeep 'Amo' Gill

    RT @sunny_hundal: Here are the stats, broken down RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  11. Tom Scott

    RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  12. Rooftop Jaxx

    RT @libcon Poll shows Coalition’s honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/acSGAL <<nice breakdown; link to the source would have been nice too

  13. Matt Leys

    RT @sunny_hundal: "The coalition’s approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly" http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  14. Justin McKeating

    'the coalition’s rating has declined to levels that were not reached for almost three years under Tony Blair' http://bit.ly/bz3vZN

  15. Soho Politico

    RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  16. Davey Strachan

    RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  17. Teresa Cairns

    RT @libcon Poll shows Coalition’s honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/acSGAL

  18. Emrys Schoemaker

    RT @sunny_hundal: Here are the stats, broken down RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  19. Liz K

    RT @libcon: Poll shows Coalition's honeymoon now over http://bit.ly/bdSvBg

  20. Polleetickle

    I think Labour prospects been pushed beyond the horizon. http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/07/20/poll-shows-coalitions-honeymoon-now-over/

  21. Are the Tories planning to inflate away our debt? « Left Outside

    […] the Tories planning to inflate away our debt? The coalition government has recently seen its poll ratings drop, its golden boy make a prat of himself and its face repeatedly hit by balls. What else to do next […]

  22. Hash

    Coalition’s rating down to levels not reached for 3 years under Blair: You Gov's Peter Kellner via Sunny Hundal http://bit.ly/csJB8H

  23. Are the Tories planning to inflate away our debt? | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Outside     July 21, 2010 at 11:15 am The coalition government has recently seen its poll ratings drop, its golden boy make a prat of himself and its face repeatedly hit by […]

  24. Speech! Speech! « Though Cowards Flinch

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