Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Liberals: the weak link in the coalition

Good to see further proof that the Liberals are the achilles heel of the ConDem coalition:

Today's voting intentions and Government approval ratings are the worst for the Conservatives since the election. The net Government approval rating is zero - 40% of people approve of the Government's performance, but 40% of people disapprove. On voting intention, the Conservative lead is down to 2 points, the lowest since the election campaign. Topline figures are CON 41%, LAB 39%, LIB DEM 12%.

Government approval has been on a slow downwards trajectory since its peak straight after the emergency budget in June. This has been partially down to Labour voters' hardening disapproval of the Government, and partially due to falling Liberal Democrat support. The remaining Liberal Democrat voters still say they approve of the Government's performance, but there are far fewer of them...

As the Yougov comment piece points out, the Tories have held up their support rather well so far - it's Liberal voters abandoning the party for Labour that is bringing down the coalition's support overall. My etch-a-sketch analysis: this is the inevitable result of the collapse of the centre ground as the opening shots of the cuts battle are heard. Liberal voters in Labour's former working class heartlands are probably deserting en masse, back to Labour. At the same time, middle class voters who have supported the Liberals in the past now feel better about supporting the Tories (because Clegg has lent Cameron his 'progressive' aura). What is more, they now have a decided class motivation to do so, since their income is invested in house prices, shares and speculation. If the Tories can rescue the City, and the housing market, they will win back much of the long-term loyalty lost in 1992.

I would be surprised, though, if the Tory support didn't also start to collapse very shortly, and Labour didn't end up with a clear lead. I suppose it depends on whether the Bank of England's polyanna-ish stance on spending cuts holds true, or whether the economists' sceptical stance proves more accurate in the end. It may also depend on whether Ed Miliband is the unelectable weirdo that I suspect he is, because he's probably going to win the Labour leadership contest.