The second instalment of the pioneering ICM/Sunday Telegraph Wisdom Index shows precious little movement from last month, with Labour (-1) down to 38%, the Conservatives holding steady on 31% and the Liberal Democrats (+1) on 17%. This 7-point lead is close to ICM’s conventional telephone poll last week, which had the Labour lead on 5-points.
Con 31% (nc)
Lab 38%) (-1)
LD 17% (+1)
Oth 14% (nc)
The standing of the Liberal Democrats is perhaps the most striking element of the Wisdom approach at present, with the public evidently not believing that if there were an imminent General Election, that the party would do as badly as conventional polls suggest. ICM’s recent conventional poll had Nick Clegg’s party on 14% but conventional online polls have them materially lower. It should be noted that all conventional online polls significantly over-stated the party before the 2010 General Election, but the Wisdom approach hit the exact vote share the party actually achieved (24%). In the same way that the public did not buy the hyperbolic Cleggmania of the 2010 election campaign then, it’s not buying that the party would implode in a General Election tomorrow. In other words, the public proved it had wisdom then, and it might just have wisdom now.
The Prime Minister has been stirring things up on welfare reform this week, and his view that Britain cannot afford generous welfare benefits is one that chimes with the public. A majority (56%) do think that the system of welfare benefits is too generous, with 12% taking the opposite position. A quarter (24%) thinks the level is about right. It should be noted that while a strong majority of Conservative voters (79%) thinks they are too
generous, a plurality of (43%) of Labour voters also thinks this is the case, with 36% saying they are about right. The Prime Minister also might not get so much of a rough ride on this from his coalition counterparts, given that more Liberal Democrats voters (46%) think they are too generous than think they are about right (28%)
But it’s evidently one thing to bemoan welfare spending in an age of austerity, but quite another to think that specific welfare cuts would receive popular assent. David Cameron would need to tread very carefully on introducing regionally adjusted benefits payments (unless he’s targeting Southern based welfare recipients, who would positively receive this policy), and ending pensioners full entitlement to bus passes and winter fuel payments,
on both of which opposition outweighs support. Stopping housing benefit for under 25′s (40% support, 40% opposition) and setting a time limit on the provision of unemployment benefit are also divisive (48% support and 36% opposition). The only policy where strong acceptance is evident is stopping child benefit payments for a third and subsequent children (65% support).
Two other questions focussing on constitutional arrangements suggest that the public would demand a say before new proposals take effect. This week a group of 90+ Conservative MPs submitted a demand for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, and their view is largely supported by the public, 68% of whom think there should be a referendum before any further transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels is made as part of a deal to save the Single Currency.
Similarly, six in ten (62%) say that the House of Lords should mainly be elected by the public (62%), and 20% say that the current system of appointments should be maintained.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 2,029 adults aged 18+ online on 27-28th June 2012. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For a full explanation of the Wisdom approach, see IJMR (54, 4), published July 2012.
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