21 Sep 2013

Trust me – I’m a politician’: polling and credibility

Polling research by Iposos MORI for Channel 4 News shows the Labour Party trails the Tories on economic credibility, and that the Liberal Democrats claim to be a “party of government” is not believed.

The 2015 General Election will be at least partly about credibility, writes Tom Mludzinski. Labour will want to prove they can be trusted with the economy again, the Conservatives will try to show that in their hands Britain avoided something much worse and is now on the mend.

Nick Clegg made his pitch very clear in Glasgow last week: he wants people to think that the Liberal Democrats have made achievements in government and are a credible party of government.

The trouble for Nick Clegg is that so far, the public just don’t see it that way. Ipsos MORI‘s poll for Channel 4 News, taken before Mr Clegg’s speech shows that just 17 per cent see the Liberal Democrats as fit to govern – while their senior coalition partners are seen as a credible party of government by 47 per cent of the British public.

The difficulty for the Liberal Democrats is that they may feel they have been making all the hard decisions and not receiving any of the benefit. At the same time they are no longer seen as “different” to the other parties, a mantle taken by UKIP.

Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron will be seeking to prove their credibility in the run up to the 2015 election (pictures: Getty)

Labour’s strengths lie in healthcare, education and housing; though it will be a concern for them that their leads over the Conservatives on health and education have narrowed over the last year.

They are seen by voters as more likely to look after the interests of people like them and understand Britain’s problems, but they trail the Conservatives on being seen as fit to govern and having a good team of leaders.

Economic trust

However, the big question is, who holds the public’s trust on the economy? The economy has now spent five years at the top of Ipsos MORI Issues Index, and economic credibility is something Labour have fought hard to win back since losing it in 2008.

Having narrowed the gap to the Conservatives recently this latest poll shows the Tories holding an 18 point lead over Labour as the party with the best policies on managing the economy 38 per cent to 20 per cent.

Rising economic optimism among voters is expected to help the Conservatives (if it lasts) and they will certainly try and claim the credit for any economic upturn, although they have their own troubles – especially in terms of being the most disliked party.

Even though voters feel Labour “gets” the issues, Labour will need to find a hook upon which to rebuild their credibility, or try to move the debate into areas where they are more trusted. Their conference in Brighton will be a first test of that.

Tom Mludzinski (@tom_mlud) is deputy head of political research at Ipsos MORI.