Lib Dem poll misery deepens

By Peter Wozniak

One of the first polls conducted since the spending review sees the Liberal Democrats suffering their lowest ever rating by pollsters YouGov.

The Tories, meanwhile, seemed to escape with relatively minimal damage leading Labour by 41% to 40%.

In reality, all the changes, including for the Lib Dems, are within the margin of error – but the symbolic low of ten per cent will hardly be cause for celebration in Cowley Street.

It appears that the public are still digesting the consequences of Wednesday’s spending review.

The expectation of an immediate sea-change and backlash against the government following the cuts announcement appears to have been disproved, though attitudes may change once the reality of the cuts becomes clearer over the next year.

The poll also asked a series of questions directly on the spending review. Attitudes towards the cuts generally have changed relatively little, within the margin of error.

Some elements of the spending review even garnered strong support, with 82% predictably in favour of the bank levy and 84% in favour of the benefits cap for households.

Public sector pension reforms received 59% support and the proposal that attracted such controversy at the Tory conference, the child benefit cut for higher earners, was supported by 74% of respondents.

The public were near evenly split on cuts to legal aid and, surprisingly, on the 500,000 public sector job losses predicted.

In fact, the only spending review items which earned widespread public opposition were the hiking of train fares and Ken Clarke’s liberal justice reforms focusing on more community sentences, with 80% and 60% respectively against.

The government, at least its Conservative contingent, will overall find a degree of satisfaction in the results.

The apocalyptic collapse in support many predicted has not materialised, though this may be due to the fact that the poll was conducted before the public had a chance to digest all the details of what the spending cuts mean in practice.