Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pollwatch: Lib Dems ranked third on the environment, gaining little traction in economic debate -- ICM

Yesterday’s Guardian summarised the main findings of the ICM political poll for August. ICM have now published the full results on their website, so we can see in a bit more detail what they mean for the Liberal Democrats.
The question that I always find most interesting is:

“Irrespective of how you yourself will vote at the next election, which political party do you think is putting forward the best policies on . . .”.

As usual, the Liberal Democrats’ best rating – 16 per cent – was on the environment. But we came third, behind the Conservatives and Labour. Allowing for margins of error, the three parties were level pegging, which is not much cause for comfort.

That’s not all: 18% said that “another party” (meaning the Greens, presumably) had the best environmental policies. That figure has doubled since February, the last time ICM asked who has the best policies on a range of areas. And more voters picked “another party” on the environment than on any of the issues surveyed.

This is not the first time the Lib Dems have failed to top the ICM poll on the “best for the environment” question. Yet we should be doing better than this on what is supposed to be our strongest issue with voters and where we have long claimed the moral and intellectual high ground. I will post about this more over the coming weeks, but the Lib Dems may well have become too complacent over the last few years about our leadership on green issues.

On "the economy generally", just 9 per cent said that the Lib Dems had the best economic policies, compared to 33 per cent for the Conservatives and 22 per cent for Labour.

As for which party had the best policies for “sorting out the economic crisis”, the Conservatives held a 9 point lead over Labour, up from 2 points in February. Just 9 per cent picked the Lib Dems.

On these scores, the Lib Dems fared little better or worse than we did six months ago.

The ICM figures show, once again, that Vince Cable’s well deserved reputation with the political literati has not sprinkled any star dust on the Liberal Democrats or our economic credibility. Maybe the public has cast us as the “caring party” that stands up for ordinary people and does not really see Lib Dems as hard-headed economic managers. But there’s no escaping the fact that, as the general election draws closer, the party needs to put across a clearer story on the issue that is uppermost in voters’ minds.

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