Polls – politics of fear beginning to bite?

In the YouGov daily polling this past week it was still tight at the top, with Labour just holding on to its lead despite Osborne’s almost invisible and underwhelming budget bounce. Both Labour and Tories gained a little and again both Ukip and the Greens lost a little over the week. Ukip are now at their lowest polling level since last August while the Greens have fallen below 6% for only the second time this year.

w/e March 27 w/e March 20 change
Conservatives 34.2% 33.6% +0.8%
Labour 34.8% 34.6% +0.2%
Lib Dems 7.8% 7.6% +0.2%
Ukip 12.4% 13.2% -0.8%
Greens 5.8% 6.0% -0.2%
SNP/PC 4.4% 4.2% +0.2%

What’s becoming clear is that there’s been a noticeable turn to the old parliamentary centr(al)ist parties over the past couple of weeks. Since January the share of the electorate claimed by the three old parties has climbed from 71% to 76.8% last week. They are now polling higher and the challenger parties lower than at any time this year.

swingbackd

This is only to be expected given the tedious fascination of the media with the nitpicking idiosyncrasies of the party leaders. Not to mention the relentless ratcheting up of the politics of fear. We’re warned not to vote for the party we might agree with as that would produce ‘chaos’. Instead, we must vote for something we don’t really want but which is slightly less bad than a third party which is even worse. We can expect a lot more of this arm-twisting over the course of April.

The questions therefore become how well can Ukip and the Greens hold on to their share of the vote and how efficient will they be in focusing on their target seats? And we must put this in perspective. In 2010 the old parties could count on 88% of the vote with Ukip scoring just over 3% and the Greens 1%. Both parties can afford to lose a bit more support and still end up tripling or quadrupling their total vote.

Meanwhile, the message for the polls remains ominous for Cornish Lib Dems, still seeking that elusive ‘fair deal’ for Cornwall that they haven’t managed to obtain despite being in government for the past five years. While support for the Tories has risen by two percentage points since the beginning of the year, the Lib Dems have only gained a paltry half a percent. On that basis the Tories look set for a clean sweep in Cornwall.

And is there a hint this past week that the SNP lead over Labour may finally be cracking? Their lead dropped below 10% for the first time since the referendum. We need another week or two to see if this is a trend or merely a blip. If it is a trend then that would be really good news for Labour. And very bad news for the politics of hope or for anti-austerity politics in the UK.

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