Labour lead over Conservatives declines in first opinion poll since George Osborne's pensioner-friendly Budget

 

Political Editor

Labour’s opinion poll lead has fallen since the Budget and the Conservatives have improved their ratings on the economy, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent.

The first telephone poll taken since George Osborne presented his Budget shows that Labour’s eight-point lead has dropped to five points since last month, but it is bigger than three online surveys giving Labour a one-point advantage. According to ComRes, Labour is now on 36 per cent (down two points), the Conservatives on 31 per cent (up one point), Ukip on 11 per cent (no change), the Liberal Democrats on nine per cent (down one point) and other parties on 13 per cent (up two points).

Asked which of the two biggest parties is most likely to keep the economy growing, 47 per cent name the Tories and 36 per cent Labour. The Tory lead has risen from nine to 11 points on this question since last September.

The Conservatives have closed the gap on Ed Miliband’s chosen territory of living standards. Some 43 per cent of people believe Labour is most likely to make their family better off, with 37 per cent opting for the Tories. However Labour’s lead has dropped from 10 to six points since last September, so the Tories’ lead on economic growth is now bigger than Labour’s advantage on the “cost of living crisis".

The Tories (49 per cent) are seen as the party most likely to eliminate the Government’s budget deficit, with Labour named by 33 per cent. This finding suggests that David Cameron’s pitch at next year’s general election to “finish the job” on the deficit could appeal to voters. One in four people (24 per cent) who say they would currently vote Labour believe the Conservatives are more likely to wipe out the deficit.

Labour (48 per cent) is viewed as the party most likely to ensure pensioners have an adequate level of income in retirement, with 34 per cent choosing the Tories. However, Mr Osborne’s sweeping reforms to pensions and savings appear to be popular among the “grey vote”.  Some 49 per cent of those aged 65 and over say the Tories would be more likely to ensure pensioners have an adequate level of income, with only 36 per cent of this group opting for Labour.

This is broadly in line with other findings in the poll. People aged 65 and over are the only age group more likely to believe that the Tories (48 per cent) would make their family better off, with Labour on 31 per cent.

The “grey vote” is much more likely to turn out than young adults. ComRes found that 70 per cent of those aged 65 and over say they are “absolutely certain” to vote in a general election, while among 18-24 year-olds, the proportion is only 20 per cent. It rises up the age scale to 36 per cent among 25-34 year-olds; 48 per cent among 35-44 year-olds; 52 per cent among 45-54 year-olds and 60 per cent among the 55-64 age group.

Amid some grumbling by Labour MPs about Mr Miliband’s strategy, the party leadership will be relieved that it retains a lead even though Mr Osborne’s Budget won favourable headlines. If the ComRes figures were repeated at a general election, Labour would win an overall majority of 60.

ComRes interviewed 1,024 GB adults by telephone between March 21-23.

Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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