Reuters/Ipsos MORI October 2010 Political Monitor

The Coalition's messages on the economy appear to be getting through, however people remain pessimistic about the future of Britain's economy.

Reuters/Ipsos MORI October 2010 Political Monitor

The Reuters/ Ipsos MORI Political Monitor for October shows that the Conservatives now have a clear lead on the economy. The Coalition's messages on the economy appear to be getting through; people are willing to accept the government's view that benefits should only be paid to the people that need them most.

However, people remain on balance pessimistic about the future of Britain's economy and Ed Miliband has made a strong start as Labour leader, with the highest satisfaction levels of any opposition leader one month in recorded by Ipsos MORI.

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CON 39(+2); LAB 36(-1); LIB DEM 14(-1)

The economy and spending cuts

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Reuters/ Ipsos MORI Political Monitor in October shows that the Conservatives have pulled away from Labour on having the best policies for managing the economy (38%, compared to 25% who say Labour has the best economic policies). This will be good news to George Osborne as prior to the election the public was far more split (29% felt the Conservatives had the best policies, and 26% felt that Labour did).

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The findings also suggest that the Coalition's message on dealing with the economy is getting through. Two thirds (67%) believe that benefits "should only be provided to the people that need them most, not for the well off" while a third (28%) say that benefits "should be provided for everybody, otherwise some people who deserve them will be put off from applying". Labour supporters and those in social grades ABC1 are more likely to agree with the universal nature of benefit provision (35% and 32%) than Coalition supporters and C2DEs (21% and 24%).

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Public opinion is divided when asked at what income level the government should start cutting off benefits if it were to stop paying them to the well-off:

  • The median household income limit felt to be reasonable was 16345,000 per annum - very much in line with some interpretations of the government's limit on child benefit.
  • Yet a quarter think the government's threshold is too low; 24% say it should be over 16350,000. It is worth noting, however, that our wider research suggests that people tend to over-estimate the average level of income in Britain, so this may in part reflect that tendency.

Our Economic Optimism Index remains negative - the decrease last month is being sustained although is not yet getting worse. Around half (48%) believe the economy will get worse over the next year, and a quarter (27%) think it will get better, giving us an unchanged economic optimism score (the latter minus the former) of -21. However, Conservative voters remain optimistic about the economy, with more believing it will get better (43%) than worse (28%).

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Satisfaction with leaders

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Despite establishing economic credibility as a government, there has been a marked fall in satisfaction with the Coalition's leaders since September. David Cameron's net satisfaction has fallen nine points to +15, and Nick Clegg's net satisfaction is +5, a fall of twelve points, and his lowest since May 2008. This is perhaps more a reflection of the `novelty wearing off' than anything more tangible yet, as the government as a whole is maintaining public support. Slightly more people are dissatisfied than are satisfied with the government as a whole (45% and 42% respectively), unchanged from last month.

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Nick Clegg remains more popular among Conservative supporters (net satisfaction score of +61) than among Liberal Democrat supporters (net satisfaction score of +49).

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Ed Miliband is proving popular so far, with the highest percentage satisfied of any Opposition leader once month in (although on net satisfaction - those satisfied minus those dissatisfied - Kinnock tops him by one point). Two in five (41%) are satisfied with Ed Miliband's performance as leader of the Labour party. Over a third (36%), however, are unable to give an opinion.

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Political alignment

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Using trend data from 1999, this poll also explored whether the public consider themselves to be `left-wing', `right-wing', or `centrist'. It shows that political attitudes are broadly unchanged since just over a decade ago. A quarter of people consider themselves to be leaning either to the left or the right (both 24%), with a third (33%) in the centre.

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Reflecting the broader support base the party won in the last election, Conservative support appears to have moved towards the centre since 1999. Almost a quarter of Conservative voters described their views as right-wing then (23%), compared to 14% now. Conversely, more Conservatives would now describe themselves more moderately as `right of centre' (34%) than in 1999 (22%).

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Despite the nickname `Red Ed', slightly fewer see Miliband as aligned to the left (44%) than see Cameron as aligned to the right (49%). Those who consider themselves to be right or right of centre are more likely to describe Miliband's views as left wing (34%) than the public as a whole (19%). Clegg is seen as most centrist, with a quarter of the public (23%) placing him in the middle ground and the same proportion seeing him as left or right of this (22% and 23% respectively).

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Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,009 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 15-17 Oct 2010.160 Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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Reuters Article

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