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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Sub-System Design Verification engineer

Flexible working, annual bonus, pension & more.: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the oppor...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Architect

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? MBDA has e...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Design Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

MBDA UK Ltd: PCB Technologies Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor