The ongoing furore over tution fees has damaged Lib Dem standing in the polls.
Following last week’s vote on tuition fees which was passed with the support of Lib Dem ministers – with the notable exception of Chris Huhne – two polls just published indicate that support for Liberal Democrats has halved.
A poll published in today’s Sunday Telegraph which was conducted in Lib Dem held seats including Eastleigh, claims that 22% of people who voted Liberal Democrat last May now intend to vote Labour when the next election is called.
In another poll for the News of the World, 29% of voters who supported the Liberal Democrats in the general election said they would not do so again.
The figure of 22% is roughly the same as the size of the swing from Labour to Mr Huhne in May, the consequence of aggressive canvassing by the Liberal Democrats among disaffected Labour voters.
If the Sunday Telegraph figure was applied to the last Eastleigh result, and 22% of Mr Huhne’s vote reverted to the Labour party, then the votes cast for Labour and the Liberal Democrats would be the same in 2010 as they were in 2005 with the Liberal Democrats polling around 19,000 votes and Labour 10,000.
In fact over the past 20 years the Liberal Democrats have polled around 19,000 votes in Eastleigh in every general election – 2005, 2001 and 1997.
A reversion to trend would point to a possible future Conservative victory in the next election. Certainly the Conservative candidate would have won handsomely last May but for the Labour swing.
However the possibility that Mr. Huhne may lose his seat due to reversion by Labour voters assumes there will be no electoral pact in the coalition to allow Lib Dem ministers like Mr Huhne to stand unopposed.
It had been rumoured that such an arrangement had been part of the negotiations to form a coalition– something Mr Huhne did not deny when pressed by BBC political reporter Michael Crick in August.
The News of the World poll also shows voter trust in Nick Clegg has slumped from 66% to 21% . Bookmakers have already taking bets on a possible new party leader and Bet fair currently have Danny Alexander as the favourite to succeed Clegg with Chris Huhne – a previous leadership runner up – in second place.
This elevation in Danny Alexander’s status corresponds with a list also published on the Daily Telegraph website of the ‘top 50’ most influential Liberal Democrats.
While Nick Clegg is at number one it is Danny Alexander in the second spot, once again ahead of Mr Huhne in third.
While on the subject of the last May’s general election, Eastleigh News has just learned that Maria Hutchings the Conservative PPC last May has taken a new post as commercial director at PR company New Century Media.
Photo: ©stephen slominski