The public, but not Tories, support Dave’s grammar school stance
The only movement in the June survey by Populus for the Times is a one point decrease in the Tory share bringing the lead over Labour down to just 3%. The shares with changes on last month are: CON 36%(-1): LAB 33% (nc): LD 17% (nc).
The fieldwork took place over the weekend and the Tories will probably be relieved that they’ve survived almost intact. Labour might have been hoping to have made more progress in view of the apparent ongoing turmoil within the main opposition party while the Lib Dems will be disappointed to still be on 17%.
What difference there is between this survey and Sunday’s ICM poll is probably explained largely by the methodology.
The Populus past vote weighting calculation is more favourable to Labour. The firm assumes that there is more “misremembering” than ICM amongst those who said they voted Labour at the last election and makes a smaller adjustment.
The Tory leadership will be delighted that just 36 per cent of those interviewed wanted â€œthe opening of new grammar schools all over the country and the reintroduction of the 11-plus examâ€ with 60 per cent agreeing that â€œinstead of building new grammar schools for the most able, we should concentrate on improving education for all children by introducing setting and streaming in every secondary schoolâ€.
Amongst Tory voters, however, a majority, 52%, supported grammar schools and Cameron’s personal ratings were down sharply.
That just about sums up the challenge for the party. What it’s wanting is in tune with public opinion but many party supporters take a differing view. Gordon Brown, no doubt, will be looking for other issues where he can detach the Cameron line from his core support and that must be the long-term danger for the Tories.
For the great power that Brown has is the ability to set the agenda and we can expect issue after issue to be proposed that Cameron could find challenging.
I’ll be contacting Andrew again for some clarification.