The Lib Dems regain third place from UKIP
The March ICM phone poll for the Guardian is out, there’s some cheer for the Lib Dems and the Tories. The Lib Dems have regained third place from UKIP with the Gold Standard of polling. It is easy to say that UKIP are regressing prior to the European and Local Elections in May, but this poll is return to the status quo of the ICM polling preceding February, which generally had the Lib Dems ahead of UKIP. As ever this is just one poll, it will be interesting to see what other polls start showing for UKIP’s share of the vote. I’m expecting that we’ll see the Ipsos-Mori this week.
The Greens are on 3% in this poll, and the SNP and Plaid Cymru are both on 2%.
Whilst Labour remain consistently in the 38-40% zone, there’ll be concern that with fewer than fifteen months to go until the election, that their lead is just 3%, for the purposes of comparison, in March 2009, the Tories had a 13% lead with ICM.
For the Tories hoping that it will be the economy that will help them win the next election, there’s good news as the omnishables budget that led to the largest and sustained change in Voting Intention this parliament, may be losing its potency to damage the Tories.
In these circumstances, voters appear to be in a forgiving mood about the preceding years of disappointing financial news, as well as the continuing cuts.
ICM asked who or what was “most to blame for Britain’s recent economic difficulties and the ongoing cut-backs in government spending”, and found that twice as many voters (32%) blamed “debts racked up by the last Labour government” as the “coalition’s economic management” (16%).
Labour has consistently lagged behind on this gauge of the blame game during the course of this parliament, and the gap between government and opposition on this score is now the widest it has been since 2010. Labour’s 16-point deficit represents a substantial widening of the mere six-point gap that was found the last time a similarly worded question was put in February 2013. More people (20%) now blame the banks than the coalition, while almost as many voters identify the eurozone (14%) as the principal culprit, as point the finger at the government.