Country has no faith in Osborne – and even one Tory in five prefers Cable
It will be hard for Lib Dems to win back left-of-centre voters who have switched to Labour
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 01 August 2012
One in three members of the public would rather have Vince Cable as Chancellor than George Osborne, according to a ComRes poll for The Independent.
The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, whose personal ratings are much higher than his party's, is preferred to Mr Osborne for the Treasury post by more than one in five Conservative supporters.
Only 34 per cent of the public want Mr Osborne to keep his current job, while the same proportion would like David Cameron to sack him and install Mr Cable at the Treasury. The remaining 32 per cent are "don't knows".
After Britain slid deeper into recession last week, Lord Oakeshott, a Lib Dem peer and close ally of Mr Cable, described Mr Osborne as "a chancellor on work experience" and suggested the Business Secretary would do a better job. Mr Cable said he would "probably" be a good chancellor but denied angling for the job and backed Mr Osborne.
According to ComRes, 50 per cent of Labour supporters would like to see Mr Cable replace Mr Osborne. Surprisingly, that view is shared by only 23 per cent of Lib Dem supporters – in line with the 22 per cent of Conservative voters –which suggests Lib Dem voters support the Coalition. However, 41 per cent of people who voted Lib Dem at the last general election would like to see Mr Osborne replaced by Mr Cable.
Apart from Mr Cable's popularity, there is little for the Lib Dems to cheer in the ComRes findings. Nick Clegg's party has dropped three points to just 10 per cent since last month's survey for The Independent.
A bigger proportion of Lib Dem 2010 voters say they would now vote Labour (44 per cent) than Lib Dem (40 per cent). In contrast, the Tories have retained the support of 82 per cent of those who voted for them at the last election and Labour 93 per cent.
This suggests it will be hard for the Liberal Democrats to win back left-of-centre voters who have switched to Labour since the Coalition was formed and that they will need to target "soft" Tories at the 2015 election.
Labour has extended its lead from nine to 11 points in the past month. Ed Miliband's party is on 44 per cent (up two points) and other parties on 13 per cent (up one point). If the results were repeated at the next election, Labour would win an overall majority of 116 seats, no matter whether the election were contested under the current or proposed new boundaries. The Lib Dems, who have 57 MPs, would be reduced to 19 on the current boundaries and 10 on the proposed new ones.
The party has threatened to block the new constituency map if the Tories fail to deliver enough support to allow Mr Clegg's plans for a mainly elected House of Lords to make progress in Parliament.
Mr Cameron's aides have made clear he will not move his Chancellor in the Cabinet reshuffle expected next month and that Mr Osborne will also continue to act as a key Downing Street strategist.
Senior Tories including Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, and Lord Ryder, the former Government Chief Whip, have urged Mr Osborne to stick to his day job at the Treasury. Mr Osborne insisted last week he only has "one job" as Chancellor.
ComRes interviewed 1,004 British adults by telephone between 27 and 29 July. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults and by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Full tables at: www.comres.co.uk
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