It hasn’t been the best of weeks for the coalition. David Cameron was the loser from his first PMQs bout with Ed Miliband (as even the Sun grudgingly admits) and the Lib Dems have been badly divided by the Browne report, with MPs in university seats particularly rebellious. Meanwhile, the latest daily YouGov poll shows that the government’s approval rating has fallen by a remarkable 11 per cent in a single day.
After rising for much of the conference season, approval for the coalition fell from +4 to -7 per cent. The poll could, of course, be an outlier but the fact that support for Labour rose four points to 40 per cent (albeit from a low of 36 per cent) is suggestive.
Vince Cable’s Damascene conversion to higher tuition fees is likely to have further alienated his party’s supporters, for whom free education has become a totemic issue. Lib Dem support has fallen to 11 per cent, their joint lowest rating since 2007, and the poll found that 45 per cent of voters oppose the Browne plan, with 37 per cent in favour.
The double whammy of child benefit cuts and higher tuition fees may yet push the “squeezed middle” towards Ed Miliband.