Labour councillors: Voters trust Tories on economy

Published: 17 March 2015 at 13:06

But poll shows Labour activists in key marginals believe Miliband will be PM

A new poll released today by the Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University suggests Labour Party activists believe the party lags behind the Conservatives on economic matters in the minds of voters.

The data, compiled by Dr Richard Carr, Lecturer in History at Anglia Ruskin University, draws on a survey answered by 222 Labour Party councillors in key marginal constituencies.

Dr Carr surveyed councillors from the 106 target seats Labour have on their hit list for the General Election, as well as the 50 Labour held seats most vulnerable to a Conservative swing.

Whilst 42.3% of those surveyed believe voters trust the Conservatives the most in terms of economic management, only 28.6% believe Labour have the edge in this area.

However, seven out of 10 (70.7%) of these councillors still expect Labour to be the largest party in a hung parliament, with a further one in 10 (9.9%) thinking Miliband can win an absolute majority.

None thought George Osborne’s economic advantage would be enough to gain the Conservatives a majority, and less than one in five (19.4%) foresee David Cameron even winning the most number of seats in a hung parliament.

The survey of these 222 Labour councillors also shows:

  • When asked which type of voter they are most worried will not vote Labour in May, activists see white working class voters who may turn to UKIP as the key issue (61.6%), over four times the 13.6% who worry about switchers to the Conservatives or Lib Dems
  • Ed Miliband’s focus on getting David Cameron to take part in a one-on-one TV debate is backed by Labour activists, with 63.8% thinking it an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ issue for local voters
  • Whilst 72.7% would prefer a minority administration in the case of a hung parliament, the SNP (42.7%), Greens (39.1%), SDLP (35.5%) and Plaid Cymru (25.5%) are all viewed as more acceptable Coalition partners than the Lib Dems (23%)
  • Labour’s pledges to axe the bedroom tax (32.4%), introduce a compulsory jobs’ guarantee (19.6%) and building 200,000 homes a year (17.4%) all are viewed as strong voter winners when councillors were asked to pick the one policy that is most likely to boost the Labour vote

Commenting on the findings, Dr Richard Carr, Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“Ahead of Budget day it is clear Labour are still struggling to shake perceptions of their role in the crash of 2008, and haven’t yet fully convinced voters on their approach to the deficit."

“Paradoxically, our data indicates the Labour faithful remains confident of winning almost two-thirds of seats on their target list and fully expect to be the largest party in the next parliament."

“If promises to build 200,000 homes a year, reform the welfare system through a compulsory jobs guarantee and axe the bedroom tax can land with voters in key seats, Ed Miliband may yet gain the keys to Number 10 in one form or another.”