Tory manifesto pledges ‘alienate’ voters

The Conservative party appear to have lost this week's manifesto battle with Labour, after a new poll found the Tories' key pledges are a turn-off with voters.

The Tories' flagship pledge to extend the 'right to buy' scheme was backed by just 28% of voters, with just five per cent saying it should be a priority for the next government according to a YouGov poll for the Times.

Another pledge to open 500 new free schools was also backed by only 28% of voters with just five per cent saying it should be a government priority.

Even the Tories' promise to hold an EU referendum was backed by less than half (49%) of those polled, while just over half backed the pledge to cut inheritance tax. On the latter policy, just 12% said it should be a priority for the government.

By contrast, all of Labour's big policy pledges were backed by more than half of voters. Seventy-six per cent backed Labour's pledge on deficit reduction, 71% backed raising the minimum wage, 65% backed an energy price freeze and 61% backed the mansion tax.

The poll also suggested the party's reputation for fiscal credibility had been dented. Forty-one per cent said the party were making proposals and policies the country could not afford compared to just 25% who disagreed. However, this still compared favourably to Labour, with 47% saying Miliband's party were making promises we can't afford.

The findings come after a week in which the Tories fail to achieve a decisive lead in the polls. Some polls this week have found the party ahead this week, although four daily consecutive YouGov polls this week found Ed Miliband's party in the lead. A new monthly phone poll out this morning also found Labour extending their lead over the Tories. Labour are up one point to 35% ahead of the Conservatives on 33% according to the Ipsos-Mori poll for the Evening Standard.

YouGov's Peter Kellner said the Tories' manifesto pledges were alienating voters.

"Our surveys show why the Conservatives have failed to overtake Labour. Their campaign has alienated more voters than it has impressed. Their personal attack last week on Ed Miliband backfired badly, and two of their shop-window manifesto commitments, on inheritance tax and the right to buy, have won few converts.

Tellingly the most popular Tory pledges were on issues more closely associated with other parties. The Lib Dems' pledge to raise the income tax threshold – now adopted by the Conservatives – was backed by 80% of voters, while the plan to freeze rail fares was backed by 67% of voters.

Previous Labour election pledges to freeze or cut rail fares were strongly opposed by the Conservatives, with current Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby running Boris Johnson's campaign against Ken Livingstone's plans to do so in London.

Polling during that election also consistently found Livingstone's policies were more popular than Johnson's. Despite this Johnson still went on to win for the Conservatives.