Electoral reform 'would boost Tory seats'

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Indy Politics

The Conservatives would fare better in a general election under the proposed alternative vote system than the existing first-past-the-post voting method, research suggests.

Writing on the ConservativeHome website, Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative deputy chairman, said that according to research which polled 6,000 people in key marginal seats, an election under AV would see the Tories take 19 seats from the Liberal Democrats, compared to the 16 they would lose to Labour, a net gain of three. Under FPTP, they would lose 28 and gain 30.

However, Lord Ashcroft concedes the research is limited, particularly given the unknown impact of plans to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies.

But Tory blogger, Iain Dale, said: "I think after reading this our new friends in the Liberal Democrats might be reconsidering their blind support for the alternative voting system."

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll shows that the Government's approval rating has begun to fall, evidence which YouGov president, Peter Kellner, says reveals that "the honeymoon period is over".

"Over the past four weeks," he said, "the coalition's approval rating has slipped slowly but remorselessly."

Latest figures reveal a net approval rating of plus four, with 41 per cent saying they approve of the Government, but 37 per cent disapproving. After George Osborne's emergency Budget in June, this figure was plus 21 (with approval rates of 48 per cent, and disapproval at 27 per cent).

Tony Blair's Labour government in 1997 did not decline to a rating as low as this for almost three years.

The poll suggests voters are growing uneasy about planned cuts to public spending. It's likely many are sceptical over claims that cuts will be confined to "efficiency savings".

Particularly damning is the verdict on the coalition among Liberal Democrat supporters. Among those who voted Liberal Democrat on 6 May, just 40 per cent approve of the coalition's performance, while 36 per cent disapprove.

Only 46 per cent of these voters would vote Liberal Democrat if a snap election was called in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, 18 per cent would vote Labour, 9 per cent Conservative and 5 per cent for other parties instead of the Liberal Democrats. The YouGov poll suggests that Liberal Democrat support is down by a third since the election.