COMRES - A political Budget for an election on the economy
POLLWATCH: A political Budget for an election on the economy
Surges come and go; long term shifts are more
difficult to sustain. Following last week’s Budget Statement the polls appear
to have narrowed; while some show the gap between Labour and the Conservatives
cut to just one or two points, the ComRes poll for The Independent had the lead
narrowing from 8 points to 5. Clearly Chancellor Osborne’s Budget has had a
short-term positive impact for the Conservatives, and the Sun’s front page on
the morning after will have made happy breakfast reading at Numbers 10 and 11
Downing Street. However, we’ve seen this before with Cameron’s bounce after his
2011 “veto” in Europe and that didn’t last. With just a year to go until the
General Election the Conservatives will need to work hard to make the surge
stick, avoiding as many bumps in the road ahead as they can.
While we can’t be sure how long the current
narrowing in the polls will last, what we have seen over the last week is a
defining of the battle lines for the long election campaign ahead. Labour are
still seen as the party of living standards and personal finances while the
Tories are the party of economic growth and deficit reduction.
This week’s ComRes / Independent poll found
that around half (47%) of Britons believe the Tories are more likely than
Labour to keep the economy growing, while just a third (36%) chose Labour over
the Conservatives. The Tories are also seen are seen as the party most likely
to eliminate the Government’s budget deficit, (49% to the 33% saying Labour).
Although the Conservatives have closed the gap
on Ed Miliband’s chosen territory of living standards, it is still an issue of
strength of Labour. Some 43% of Britons believe Labour is most likely to make
their family better off, with 37% naming the Tories. But Labour’s lead has
dropped from 10 to six points since last September.
Base: All GB adults (n=1,024)
Particularly interesting following Mr
Osborne’s blatant attempts to woo savers and pensioners is that Labour is
viewed as the party most likely to ensure pensioners have an adequate level of
income in retirement (48% choosing Labour and 34% the Tories). However, George
Osborne has had some success with the “grey vote” as those aged 65 and over
are more likely to say the Tories would to ensure pensioners have an adequate
level of income.
With the electoral maths looking very
difficult for the Conservatives – needing to improve on their performance in 2010
to win a majority – it is easy to see why Ed Miliband and his team may be
tempted to keep their heads down and stumble into Downing Street. However, the
Tory “surge” should serve as a reminder that many voters have by no-means
nailed their colours to the mast for any party just yet. They may be saying
they will vote for Labour now, but the Party has to offer them a positive,
credible message to secure their votes, especially if the economic narrative
continues along a more optimistic road and the Conservatives are able to point
to a record of improvement. Labour are keeping quiet for now, but they will
have to turn up the volume pretty soon.
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