PM dips in poll as Lib Dems, Labour go up
David Cameron's personal popularity among voters in the South West has dropped, a Western Morning News/Marketing Means survey has revealed.
But the Prime Minister remains the most popular of the three main party leaders as the Westminster show prepares for conference season.
The Conservative leader's approval rating is zero, with 39 per cent of those polled saying he is doing a good job, and 39 per cent saying bad. Mr Cameron's neutral rating in the South West is down 2 per cent on last month.
The poll was taken last weekend as there appeared no end in sight to the gloomy economic data underlining the fragile state of the British economy.
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By contrast, 23 per cent of voters were satisfied with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and 48 per cent dissatisfied.
The poll result gives the Lib Dem leader a net score of minus 25 per cent, down 3 per cent on August.
Labour's Ed Miliband is also deep in negative territory. The Opposition leader's score is minus 26 per cent – one down on last month – with 45 per cent saying he is doing a bad job.
September and October are crucial months for the party leaders as they deliver keynote speeches at their respective party conferences.
But there was better news for the Lib Dems, who kick off the conference season in Birmingham next Saturday, as they saw their overall party rating climb again.
The Conservatives retain a commanding lead in the greater South West, according to the results of the latest South West Poll, carried out by Ashburton-based Marketing Means.
The Tories are on 40 per cent (no change on August), Labour on 23 per cent (up 2 per cent) and the Lib Dems on 22 per cent (up 1 per cent).
However, the Lib Dem's moderate poll increase among South West voters in September follows a 5 per cent surge in the previous month.
After joining the coalition Government with the Tories in May last year, the Lib Dems' popularity went into freefall after hitching itself to unpopular policies and deep public spending cuts.
While clawing back support, the Lib Dems are still 13 per cent below the 35 per cent of the vote they achieved at last year's general election in the region.
That Labour has moved into second place outright in the region is a huge surprise, given that it was only the fourth largest party in places at the general election.
Against criticism that the Government is not doing enough to kick-start the economy, the parties are yet to disclose the major themes that will run through conference.
Following last year's spending review, many are looking to Chancellor George Osborne for incentives to encourage the private sector to grow.
But one political insider claimed last week that Tory preparations are "particularly chaotic", with the conference programme "short on both ideas and a theme".
The Lib Dems are likely to focus on the their achievements in Government, such as the £625 million pupil premium and the rise in the income tax threshold to £10,000.
But this could be over-shadowed by frustration over controversial reform of the NHS, which was passed in the Commons last week, despite opposition from backbenchers.
Labour, meanwhile, will almost certainly attempt to pick apart the Government's economic strategy and lack of a "plan B" or alternative to deep spending cuts.
The South West Poll monitors voting behaviour in the region each month.
Marketing Means interviewed a random sample of adults aged 18-plus in the seven-county-wide South West region by telephone and online between September 1 and 4, 2011.
A total of 614 responses were achieved. For full results, visit www.marketingmeans.co.uk