Labour draws level with Government on economic competence but Ukip is gaining ground, study shows

 

Political Editor

Labour has drawn level with the Government on economic competence but Ed Miliband may not reap the benefit from it at the next general election, according to a new study.

Instead, the UK Independence Party is gaining ground on the economy as well as issues on which it has won support such as immigration and Europe, said the University of Essex, which has been tracking public opinion since the Coalition was formed in 2010.

It concludes that the Coalition's reputation for economic competence is a "wasting asset". In 2010, about half the 1,000 voters polled each month by YouGov for the study believed the Government was handling the economic crisis well. Only about a quarter believed the Labour Opposition would do so. Today the Government and Opposition are neck and neck, but only about one in four people have confidence in either of them.

"Labour is not benefiting at all from discontent with the Government's economic strategy when it comes to modelling of voting behaviour," said Professor Paul Whiteley, director of the National Policy Monitor at Essex. "However, Ukip is benefiting, which means that defection from the Conservatives to Ukip is in part driven by economic discontent. Ukip has been making hay with the immigration issue, but it looks like it is gaining ground on the economy as well."

The study has a crumb of comfort for the Liberal Democrats. It suggests that although the lack of progress on the economy has damaged Nick Clegg's party, it is unlikely to fall further in the polls because it has already dropped to its baseline vote. In contrast, the Tories could decline further.

The findings will worry both the Tories and Labour.  Tory MPs are hoping that tomorrow's Budget will revive their party's fortunes but their hopes of dramatic tax cuts to kickstart the economy are likely to be dashed. 

Conservative backbenchers are increasingly worried about the threat from Ukip after it pushed their party into third place in last month's Eastleigh by-election. One senior Tory said: "Everyone has got the jitters. The threat is not that Ukip is going to win lots of seats at the general election. But it could split the right wing vote and deprive us of victory in Labour-Tory marginals. That could spell disaster for us."

Labour will welcome its improved ratings on the economy. But modernisers who want the party to spell out more policies and examples of where it would cut spending will seize on the Essex findings as evidence that it still has a long way to go to win the voters' trust.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend