Remember when I said, last month, that Tory members have settled into remarkably consistent views about Coalition with the Lib Dems? Our polling had remained more or less flat for the previous six months.
Well, I also said that we’d keep an eye on whether that changes as the Lib Dems do more to differentiate themselves from Cameron & Co, with the election approaching. There certainly has been a lot of differentiation over the past month: from David Laws’ angry words about public appointments to Nick Clegg’s campaign against an EU referendum. And do you know whaty? There are signs, in our latest survey, that it’s all starting to grate on Tory members’ nerves.
Take this first graph, charting attitudes towards the statement “The Coalition is, overall, a good thing for the Conservative Party”. For the past half-a-year the proportion of Party members disagreeing with this has hovered around the 60-64 per cent mark. This month, however, it reaches a new all-time high of 68.5 per cent:
This sentiment is reflected in our polling on the possibility of another Coalition after the next election. You’ll notice, from the graph below, that the number of Tory members who are “completely opposed” to such a union has now overtaken, for the first time, the number who are “broadly supportive”. A full 61.2 per cent of Party members now oppose, either broadly or completely, the idea of another Coalition with the Lib Dems:
And it shows up, too, in responses to the question of when the Coalition should end. “As soon as possible” is preferred to “At the 2015 election” for the first time:
Some of these changes are relatively subtle – but they’ve happened, and I expect they’ll keep on happening. As I’ve written before, the forthcoming Budget is a likely locus for Lib Dem agitation and angst. That could well trigger more dissatisfaction, from the blue side, in our next survey.