NORTH East support for the coalition has collapsed as voters struggle to see the benefits, The Journal can reveal.
A poll commissioned exclusively for this paper on voters’ perceptions of the coalition halfway thought its term in office shows declining support for the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
With two and half years to go until the next General Election the Other Lines of Enquiry North poll shows voters in the region would back UKIP before the Lib Dems.
Nick Clegg’s party have suffered the most in the region, with young voters in particular dropping off. Some 20% of those aged 18 to 34 backed the Lib Dems in 2010. Those from the same age group intending to vote Lib Dem in 2015 has dropped to just 7%.
The party has dropped to fourth in The Journal’s poll, with Labour increasing its lead to 52%.
Were the results replicated at the 2014 European elections, the next big test, Labour would take two of the three seats. They currently hold one.
Tory support has also declined, from 24% to 17% based on likely voting intentions. And the bad news keeps on coming for the coalition.
The poll of more than 500 people shows that in the key areas of crime, health, education and the economy voters believe the situation is either worse or no better than it was at the beginning of 2010.
But the poll will make difficult reading for Labour as well. Voters across the party’s North East heartland appear reluctant to forgive Labour for its role in the current round of spending cuts.
Around 24% of voters said they blame Labour for the economic problems facing the country, with 40% saying Labour and the coalition had to share the blame.
Last night Liberal Democrat peer John Shipley said he believed his party was well placed to begin winning back support.
Lord Shipley, who advises the Government on regional regeneration, said: “These polls show we have clearly lost some support following the difficult decisions we have had to make following the difficult decisions we have had to make following the disastrous financial position Labour left us in. With two and half years to go I think there is time to show this was done in the country’s interests.”
He added: “Coalition has been much tougher than I think any of us anticipated. We had to prioritise getting the deficit under control. We had the biggest debt crisis of our lifetime and tackling that had to come first.
“I think by 2015 we can recover most if not all of what we have lost as things continue to improve. And I very much hope Nick Clegg is the man leading us for many years to come – he has the gravitas we need to get a good result in 2015.”
South Tyneside Council’s Labour leader Iain Malcolm said it was clear the party still had work to do on correcting its economic record.
Mr Malcolm said: “The economy will be as big an issue in 2015 as it was in 2010. I think if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling had not acted as they did to safeguard savings and pensions and help the economy it would not just have been Northern Rock which saw people queuing up to take their money out.
“There are still things Labour has to do to improve how voters see us on the economy, but can be proud of what we have done.”
Economic concerns have however been cited by the Conservatives as a way in which the party can recover their poll ratings.
Senior North East Tory Lord Bates said: “In 2015 people will have a choice between backing Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, who were effectively the people who drove the car into the ditch, or for the Conservatives who if you like are those who are trying to get the car running again.
“We are starting to see signs the economy is recovering and when that filters through I think the polls will reflect that.”
I think by 2015 we can recover most if not all of what we have lost as things continue to improve