Reputation survey: Coalition Government - Clegg under pressure

As the coalition Government finds its feet, the public is divided over the extent to which Nick Clegg has benefited in his new role as Deputy Prime Minister.

Under pressure: Nick Clegg
Under pressure: Nick Clegg

As the politicians head off for summer recess, new figures show that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's reputation has been boosted the most by the coalition arrangements.

However, PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey of 3,000 members of the public found opinion of Clegg's party the Liberal Democrats has not enjoyed the same lift.

While 19 per cent of respondents said their opinion of the Lib Dems was more positive since the coalition was formed, 34 per cent said it was more negative. The remainder said their opinion had not changed. When asked about the Conservatives, 21 per cent said their opinion of the party was more positive, and 57 per cent said it had not changed.

Clegg was chosen as the individual who had benefited most from the coalition Government by 41 per cent of respondents, ahead of David Cameron who was chosen by 39 per cent. However, opinion is clearly polarised because Clegg was also chosen as the politician whose reputation had benefited least from the coalition by 29 per cent of respondents, again ahead of Cameron who was chosen by 17 per cent.

A majority 58 per cent of respondents said Clegg was right to form an alliance with the Conservatives.

While 34 per cent said they felt neutral about the coalition Government, 30 per cent said they felt quite positive about it.

To date, coverage of the new Government has been dominated by the public sector spending cuts. Twenty-nine per cent felt the Government was cutting from the wrong budgets, compared with only 24 per cent who agreed with the cuts.

HOW I SEE IT - PAUL SINCLAIR, MD, UK PUBLIC AFFAIRS, HILL & KNOWLTON

There is a story that just before the Battle of Britain, King George VI asked the Chief Rabbi how he thought the war would go. He got the reply: 'If I were you I would put some of the colonies in your wife's name.'

If I were Nick Clegg, I would do that with my party. That the public believes he has gained, but also been damaged the most by the coalition, suggests the gain was personal in exchange for his credibility. And with three in five voters thinking coalitions are a sign of weakness, I doubt that bodes well for the referendum on AV - electoral reform should mean more coalitions.

David Cameron and the Tories will be pleased with these results but Clegg needs to sound more distinctive and not more Tory than Cameron.

With nearly 40 per cent of electors saying they would rather have had a new election than a coalition, I suspect the Lib Dems may be squeezed in any future vote.

- Has your opinion of the Conservative party changed since the coalition Government was formed?

Yes, it is more negative 22%

Yes, it is more positive 21%

No 57%

- Has your opinion of the Liberal Democrat party changed since the coalition Government was formed?

Yes, it is more negative 34%

Yes, it is more positive 19%

No 47%

Wisdom of Alliance

58% of respondents thought Nick Clegg was right to form an alliance with the Conservatives

Democratic solution

44% agreed the coalition Government was the most democratic solution to the hung Parliament following the election

Economy

39% of respondents rated the coalition Government very highly or quite highly to date on the economy

Education

37% of respondents rated the coalition Government not very highly, or not at all highly, to date on education

Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll.

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