Tories lost a fifth of their voters in the last year, poll reveals

 

Voters deserted the Conservatives during a punishing year for the party as it dropped almost one-fifth of its electoral support, The Independent’s latest poll of polls can disclose.

As 2013 begins, the Tories’ popular support has yet to recover from a slide that began during a troubled spring, including George Osborne’s “omnishambles” Budget, leaving Labour with ratings that, if repeated in a General Election, could be enough to put Ed Miliband in Downing Street with a majority of more than 100. To add to the new year gloom for the Prime Minister, the UK Independence Party achieved record levels of popularity.

The poll underlines the challenges facing David Cameron as he attempts to seize the political initiative in the new year with a long-awaited speech laying out his vision of Britain’s place in Europe.

A weighted average of last month’s polls puts the Conservatives on 32 per cent (down seven points since December 2011) while Labour is on 41 per cent (up three). The Liberal Democrats’ support has held up better than their coalition partners this year (now 11 per cent, down one), but the party began 2012 at a low ebb and ends the year struggling to reach double figures. It is now in danger of being overtaken by Ukip, which polled an average of eight per cent, compared with three per cent at the turn of last year.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who calculated the averages, said the turning-point for the Tories had been in March/April when the Tory rating fell below 35 per cent and has not recovered.

The party’s support appears to have been hit by the ill-received Budget as well as controversies including the handling of the petrol tankers’ strike and confusion over the deportation of the cleric Abu Qatada.

Alarm is also growing in Conservative ranks about the steady advance of Ukip both in the polls and in by-elections (the party came second in the contest in Rotherham last month and third in Corby in November).

Prof Curtice said that Ukip was disproportionately attracting support from Tories and had become “a convenient and acceptable vehicle of protest for disillusioned Conservative voters”.

Mr Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will shortly move to reinvigorate the Coalition by setting out plans for its next two years in office as well as listing its achievements since its creation in May 2010.

However, the Coalition’s immediate fortunes could depend on whether the recent tentative economic recovery – accompanied by falling unemployment – continues into 2013. Its problems in winning back voters could be exacerbated by the publication of the next Comprehensive Spending Review, which is likely to extend austerity measures.

Labour has edged up slowly in support over the last 12 months and has been consistently around the 40 per cent it needs for a convincing election victory for most of the year.

It will face a key test in May in elections to English shire counties. Labour fared disastrously the last time the seats were contested in 2009, so its performance will be a measure of whether it is rebuilding support in areas alienated by Gordon Brown’s government.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Retail Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Ecommerce/Retail/E...

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz