LONDON (Reuters) - Support for Britain’s Liberal Democrats has slumped after they joined a coalition government while the opposition Labor Party is enjoying a revival in its ratings, an Ipsos MORI poll for Reuters showed Tuesday.
Only 14 percent said they would vote Lib Dem, down five percentage points from the previous month, and a decline of around a third since the general election in May.
The Conservatives, the senior coalition party, were backed by 40 percent of those certain to vote, up one point on the previous month, while Labor gained seven points to 38 percent.
Labor is regrouping after being ousted from power for the first time in more than a decade in May. The center-left party will crown a new leader at its annual conference in September, with rival brothers David and Ed Miliband seen as the leading candidates in a five-strong field.
The poll findings may be largely academic as the coalition is aiming to serve a full-five year term, but are likely to worry Lib Dem members who feel the party could lose its identity in the coalition.
Some in the left-leaning party fear it will take a share of the blame for tough action to cut a record peacetime budget deficit, but gain little credit in the longer-term if the measures pay off.
A ComRes poll for the BBC’s Newsnight program Monday showed four in 10 people who voted Lib Dem in May said they would not done so if they had known the party was going to join a coalition with the center-right Conservatives.
The Ipsos MORI survey showed Britons were more optimistic about their economic prospects than a month ago.
Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed felt the economy would improve over the next year, against 34 percent who thought it would get worse. That positive reading on economic optimism compared with a figure of minus five last month.
The coalition introduced an emergency budget last month designed to slash the deficit over the course of parliament. Value-added tax will rise to 20 percent from 17.5 percent from next January, while many government departments will have to cut spending by a quarter.
These cuts will be detailed in a spending review in October. Given this uncertainty, it was perhaps not surprising that Britons were divided on whether public services would improve in the long-term, with 45 percent expecting an improvement and the same number disagreeing.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,009 adults in the telephone survey on July 23-25.