Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Labour slump

Labour slumps to lowest poll rating since 1983
By Andrew Grice
Independent 24 April 2007

Support for Labour has fallen to its lowest level since 1983 in the approach to next week's local elections, the latest monthly poll for The Independent shows.

CommunicateResearch puts the Conservatives on 36 per cent (up one point on last month's survey), Labour on 27 per cent (down four points), the Liberal Democrats on 22 per cent (up two points) and other parties on 15 per cent (up one point).

The poll was taken between Friday and Sunday and Labour's level of support may have been affected by damaging headlines over the cash-for-honours affair after the Metropolitan Police completed its 13-month inquiry and submitted its report to the CPS.

The figures suggest that Labour will suffer heavy losses in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils on Thursday week, giving Tony Blair a farewell kicking in his last contest as Labour leader.

Labour's support is the lowest in any opinion poll since 1983, the year in which it won 27 per cent at the 1983 general election under the leadership of Michael Foot.

Labour has lost ground among women in the past month, with support falling from 32 per cent to just 24 per cent. But it has the backing of 31 per cent of men. Support among those aged 18 to 24 has dropped from 39 per cent last month to 24 per cent.

Another worrying finding for Labour is that its natural supporters are less likely to vote for it than those of the two other main parties. CommunicateResearch found that the Tories continue most effectively to retain the loyalty of their natural supporters, with 90 per cent of those identifying themselves most closely with the party intending to vote for it. Eighty-one per cent of people who regard themselves as Liberal Democrats say they will back the party, while for Labour the figure is 80 per cent.

Although the Tories will be happy to be nine points ahead of Labour, they will be disappointed not to have benefited more from Labour's slump. The Tories' 36 per cent rating is still short of the 40 per cent they hope to achieve in the council elections in England to show they are on course for victory at the next general election.

The big two parties' declining share of the total vote is another feature of the poll. Among the other parties, 4 per cent of people support the Scottish National Party, which is ahead of Labour in Scotland and is on course on become the largest party in the Edinburgh Parliament. The Green Party is on 3 per cent, the British National Party is on 2 per cent, with the UK Independence Party and Plaid Cymru both on 1 per cent. Other parties scored 4 per cent.

Likelihood to vote among young people is dwindling. This month, only 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were certain to vote, compared with 26 per cent last month. Thirty per cent in this age group say they are certain not to vote, twice as many as last month.

* CommunicateResearch telephoned 1,000 adults between 20-22 April. Data were weighted to take account of expected turnout and party identification for those who declined to say how they would vote. The sample was also weighted by how respondents said they had voted in the 2005 general election. CommunicateResearch is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Full tables are at www.communicateresearch.com


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