Labour are back in the lead by six points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll, conducted over the past weekend. The party remain unchanged on 33 per cent, with the Conservatives on 27 per cent, UKIP up three points to 17%, the Liberal Democrats and Greens static on nine per cent and six per cent respectively, and Others up two points to eight per cent.
The margin is comparable to the five-point Labour advantage in yesterday’s YouGov’s poll, which also found the party’s advantage up on last week.
The restoration of Labour’s lead in the ANP results from a six-point fall in the Tory share, with no other significant movements. However, figures in polling tend to scatter around the mean, so it is important to look at the longer term pattern rather than week-to-week changes. It remains the case that in the ANP the Conservatives have been within the margin of error of 30 per cent since early summer, with Labour consistently close to 34 per cent.
Last week, ahead of the Labour conference, I asked what reservations people had about voting for the party. This week I asked a similar question about the Conservatives. Six in ten said one of their concerns about voting Tory would be that “they have not made clear what they would do in the years after 2015” – exactly the same proportion who said last weekend that Labour had not made clear what they would do to improve things.
Similar numbers (61 per cent) said they were concerned that the Tories “have gone too far with austerity and the cuts in public spending and services they have already made”. However, seven in ten – including nearly half (48 per cent) of Conservative voters – said they were worried that “they might go too far with austerity and cuts in public spending and services in the future”.
When it came to the promise of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, 45 per cent of Conservative voters and 71 per cent of UKIP voters were worried that the Tories would somehow fail to keep their promise. For others, the bigger concern in this area was that the Conservatives’ promise of an EU referendum “means Britain could end up leaving the EU” – a fear for 64 per cent of current Labour voters, 79 per cent of Lib Dems and 52 per cent of UKIP supporters.
These reservations no doubt have a part to play when it comes to people’s preferences for the outcome of the next election. A Labour government was the most popular result, though chosen by only 34 per cent, with just under a quarter (24 per cent) preferring a Conservative government. Just over a quarter (26 per cent), including more than one third (35 per cent) of swing voters, said they would like to see another coalition involving the Lib Dems. Lib Dem supporters themselves were evenly divided as to whom they would like to be in coalition with: 43 per cent named Labour and 42 per cent the Conservatives.
Only just under three quarters of Tory voters (74 per cent) and 78 per cent of Labour supporters wanted to see their respective parties in office alone. 15 per cent of Conservatives and 16 per cent of Labour voters would rather see their parties in coalition with the Lib Dems than governing with an overall majority.
David Cameron retains his comfortable advantage over Ed Miliband on most aspects of the job of Prime Minister. Miliband leads by 49 per cent to 33 per cent on “understanding ordinary people”, though this is likely to be as much a reflection of his party’s brand as his own. Majorities said Cameron would do a better job when it comes to representing Britain in international negotiations (58 per cent), including 41 per cent of Labour voters), making the right decisions even when they are unpopular (55 per cent), being able to lead a team (55 per cent), having a clear idea what he wants to achieve (55%) and doing the job of Prime Minister overall (55 per cent).
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