Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Since 2010 the Government has been more popular than Labour

In 2010 something quite remarkable happened.

Two parties came together, they claimed in the national interest (although some would of course dispute that motive) to form a coalition in order to govern the country for the next 5 years.

It has been difficult for the Conservatives and Lib Dems. They haven't always agreed and there have been at time bitter arguments between them. However they have managed to remain in government together and nobody now seriously thinks that they will not last another year until polling day on May 7th 2015.

In the meantime, the Labour opposition have tried to find different ways to position themselves against the government. They have been quite inventive in this. They have referred to it as a "Tory led government" as they clearly think this is a good attack line. They have at times accused the Lib Dems of "betraying" their voters and also implied that this government has no mandate as nobody specifically elected the coalition. They have questioned the motives of ministers of both parties in the way they have implemented the cuts, claiming they are "ideological". They have berated the government for being heartless, out of touch, in the pocket of millionaires and many, many, many other such attacks.

This has been rather effective. Look:

Labour climbed ahead of the Tories in the polls a few months after the 2010 general election and apart from a slight blip a year or so later when the Tories briefly overtook them they have basically stayed ahead. The Lib Dems slid down to around 10% and have bumped around at that level ever since.

Surely based on this Labour is winning the argument and the public would prefer Labour then?

Well not quite actually. Look:

If we combine the totals of both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, (i.e. the two parties of government) then that combined total has largely been ahead of Labour. There's a bit of crossover around the time and for a while after the "Omnishambles" budget of 2012. But for the majority of the time and certainly quite recently the "government" total has been ahead.

Of course the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are two separate parties. They won't be merging or standing on joint tickets, or even going for some sort of "coupon" agreement next year. They will stand separately. But Labour consistently attacks and berated the entire government. The pejorative term "ConDem" government is used to great effect in their campaigning. So if they are going to attack the entire government it is only fair to look at the figures in that context. And that shows us that despite the fact that for 4 years the government has had to make swingeing cuts and has launched unpopular reforms in all sorts of areas, they are still more popular than the Labour opposition.

If I was a Labour politician or activist I'd be very worried about this.


Greg Smyth said...

The combined popularity of the parties that make up the Government is clearly completely different from the popularity of the Government.

It would, however, be interesting to know how often the combined Tory and UKIP opinion poll score outweighed that of Labour and the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

Better to be in a coalition than out. As Francis Bacon put it : "In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present".