More voters think the Tories have broken their Coalition Agreement promises than think the Lib Dems have

by Stephen Tall on August 8, 2012

Nick Clegg’s announcement on Monday – that the Lib Dems would end the party’s support for the boundary changes pledged in the Coalition Agreement in response to David Cameron’s failure to persuade his party to back the Lords reform pledged in the Coalition Agreement – has triggered a collective how-very-dare-he whine from the right-wing commentariat. Unreliable, betrayal, treachery… and those are some of the kinder words being uttered.

So what does the public think of the Lib Dems’ and Conservatives’ role in the Coalition: how far do they think the parties have stuck to their respective sides of the deal? Well, YouGov has asked the question, and here are the results:

Three specific points to note:

1) By 45%-30% voters are more likely to believe the Lib Dems have kept to their side of the deal than that the Tories have. (It’s quite another matter, of course, whether voters agree with what’s being done.)

2) A majority – 51% – of the public says the Tories have failed to stick to their Coalition Agreement promises. Just 32% of voters think the Lib Dems have reneged.

3) Even among Tory voters, by 44%-36% they are more likely than not to think the Lib Dems have stuck to the party’s side of the deal.

I realise there are many people – Lib Dem (ex-)voters and others – who will say that this shows the problem: the naive Lib Dems have stuck to their promises while the ruthless Tories have happily shed theirs when they don’t suit. I don’t (perhaps unsurprisingly) buy that explanation. But that Tory MPs’ first major breach of Coalition faith, on Lords reform, has earned a Cameron capitulation will likely embolden the right-wing to push further, to see what else they can get away with. And just as the results of their rebellion on Lords reform is to make a Tory majority at the next election less likely, so will further such attempts. Maybe it’s time Tory MPs started thinking through not only the consequences of their actions, but also what the public will think of them?

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.