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By Peter Hoskin
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Here’s
an opinion
poll
that is worth pondering. It’s from Ipsos MORI, and it asks a single,
simple question: ‘Which party do you think has the best policies on Europe –
the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP or some other party?’

So,
who came out on top? The Conservatives, after David Cameron’s promise of an EU
referendum and the budgetary gains he made in Brussels? Ukip, with Nigel Farage
soaring high across the airwaves? Nope, neither. Here’s your answer:

GRaph copy

Before
we go any further, it’s worth applying a caveat. This poll doesn’t provide any
details about the Europe policies in question; it just lists the names of the
parties. That probably makes it more likely that respondents will just pick the
party they like – or at least it ups the chances of them saying “don’t know”. A
poll that concentrated on policy, rather than party, would probably yield very
different results.

But,
that said, some points do stand out from this Ipsos MORI poll. I have two in
mind, in particular.

The
first is illustrative: despite Mr Cameron’s recent endeavours on the Europe
front, the political gains have not been unambiguous or overwhelming. Part of
this may be due to a growing
outpouring of love
for the European Union. But part of it is also due to
persistent support for Ukip.

According
to this poll, 16 per cent of current Conservative supporters think that Ukip
have the best policies on Europe – the highest proportion among any party –
while only 7 per cent of Ukip supporters return the compliment in the other
direction. What’s more, less than half of those who voted Tory at the last
election believe that the party now has the best Europe policies, with 28 per
cent of them preferring Ukip’s.

Of
course, Europe is not the only issue that transfers votes between these two parties,
but it’s part of an overall picture. Tory strategists will worry – particularly
after Eastleigh – that Mr Cameron’s words on Europe haven’t persuaded
Eurosceptic voters.

And the second point is speculative. Only 38 per
cent of current Lib Dem voters believe that their party has the best policies
on Europe – the lowest proportion among any party. 17 per cent of them prefer
the Tories’, compared to 12 per cent for Labour’s. Could it be that the Lib Dem
leadership will face pressure to turn more Eurosceptic as the next election
approaches? Perhaps not. But, as I’ve said
before
, there’s probably more room for cooperation between the Coalition
partners in this area than many folk realise.

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