Approval rates high for coalition

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
May 14, 2010, 10:12 PM GMT+0

The British public broadly approve of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition that, under Tory David Cameron, now forms the Government at Westminster. 60% of the British public say they approve of the Conservative-LibDem coalition, following an unprecedented week in British politics. This is just under double the percentage of those who disapprove (33%), and it seems that, Labour supporters excepted, the majority of those across the nation either strongly approve or tend to approve of the controversial union between these hitherto political rivals.

The approval rate among Labour supporters is at a less positive 25% in comparison to a huge 87% of Conservative supporters, and 69% of Liberal Democrat supporters. Given that Labour is now poised to begin a new leadership contest, with former foreign secretary David Milliband confirmed as putting himself forward among rumours that his younger brother (former energy secretary Ed) and former schools secretary Ed Balls may compete against him, this quarter is still an impressive figure. Notwithstanding, given the pre-election speculation as to what a hung parliament might have done to the nation, not to mention the extent to which Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had been pitched against each other, high levels of support among the Conservatives and Lib Dems would appear to suggest that the feeling towards the final coalition decision remains generally positive.

When it comes to the coalition’s expected longevity though, the picture isn’t quite so rosy. A sizeable 28% feel that it will last less than a year, while only slightly more (34%) would give it 1 to 2 years. And while the coalition continues to emphasise its desire to establish set-term governments, only ten percent of the public feel that the union will last five years or more.

Indeed, whether or not the partnership goes the distance, the reaction to how this unprecedented liaison will affect the parties concerned looks decidedly mixed. 45% feel that it will be a good thing for the Conservative party (33% said it was a bad thing), versus 52% who think it will boost the Lib Dems’ profile (compared to 34% who think it might damage their standing). Perhaps unsurprisingly given their larger share of the political pie, Conservative supporters feel most positive about the implications of the coalition for the parties involved: while 61% think it will help their own party, a significant 70% feel it will help the Lib Dems. Lib Dem supporters, however, remain slightly more cautious, with 58% stating that the coalition with be ‘good’ for their party, with 32% claiming it will be a ‘bad thing’.

Perhaps the test will be in the coalition’s future actions – and you can be sure that if the tables start to turn on the Cameron-Clegg alliance, this will be the place to watch it happen.

Survey details and full results

For more about attitudes to the coalition, see Peter Kellner's commentary on the issue