Two years in, Tory voters disapprove of the government’s domestic reformsby Peter Kellner / April 23, 2012 / Leave a comment
As David Cameron approaches his second anniversary as prime minister, YouGov’s latest poll for Prospect brings him some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that the public’s verdict is reasonably positive on his biggest challenges—sorting out the public finances and working to strengthen Britain’s economy in the long term. The bad news is that voters give his ministers low marks on all five features of the domestic social agenda that YouGov tested.
To gauge voters’ attitudes, we took ten objectives that Cameron himself has stressed since he entered Downing Street. In each case we asked voters to rate the government’s performance as excellent, good, fair, poor, bad or terrible. The graphic shows the percentages of people who delivered one of the three positive verdicts, compared with those who delivered one of the three negative verdicts. The net score shows the difference between the two—a plus sign indicates more positive than negative responses; minus indicates a preponderance of negative responses.
As the graphic shows, the net score is, just, on the plus side on the two big economic challenges. Voters are evenly divided on two things that concern process—tone and style—showing that it’s possible for two parties to work in coalition while “being open and honest” with the public.
On balance, voters don’t think Cameron has persuaded the rest of the world to respect Britain more, but the net score, minus eight, is not too discouraging.
However, on all the remaining issues, the net score is strongly negative: on education, health, tax and welfare, creating equal opportunities for young people, and, with the biggest minus score of all, immigration.
Immigration is the one issue where most people who voted Conservative two years ago feel let down. Just 39 per cent of them give a positive verdict, while 53 per cent give a negative verdict. This yields a net score among 2010 Tory voters of minus 14. In contrast this group is generally supportive on two other controversial issues: healthcare, where their verdict yields a net score of plus 27, and tax and welfare, also plus 27.
The odd thing about this is that when we ask which party would handle immigration best, the Tories have a strong lead over Labour. What our latest poll suggests is that this relative rating is misleading, and that most voters think none of the parties has the right approach. And the alarming thing for the prime minister is that those people who have deserted the Tories in the past two years —more than two million voters—feel that the government has let them down far more on immigration than on any other issue.