Calling the Conservatives the “nasty party” is an old cliché, but one based in truth, according to a Comres/ITV News poll released on Tuesday. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was criticised last week for suggesting Ed Miliband had betrayed his brother to become Labour Party leader, and would likewise deceive the country were he to become prime minister.
Most pointedly, Fallon argued that the Labour leader would give in to SNP demands to abandon Britain’s Trident missile system, despite Miliband saying its renewal was not up for negotiation.
Some 46% of the surveyed said this attack proved the Tories really are a "nasty” party, while half (51%) disagreed with Fallon's fratricidal assessment, saying Ed’s victory over David did not show a lack of moral character. The poll also showed that personal attacks by politicians are unlikely to woo voters, while the Tories are perceived to be running the dirtier campaign.
Fallon: 'Nasty? Me?'
But it isn’t all good news for Labour. On the economy, the Tories still foster more creditability than their counterparts, with 39% agreeing that Cameron’s party are the best to promote economic growth. Some 43% trust them to reduce the deficit.
The numbers are reversed for the NHS, with 37% saying Labour would be better at managing the aging monolith, more than 13 points more than the Tories. The NHS remains the biggest priority for Britons (49%) with immigration second (44%).
Earlier on Tuesday, a poll by Lord Ashcroft on Conservative-held marginals revealed that the Iron Lady's old constituency could fall into enemy hands. Margeret Thatcher's Finchley and Golders Green seat is just one of ten that could switch to Labour, with a survey showing the Tories trailing or tied with the opposition in 5.
The poll gave Labour a two-point advantage over the Conservatives in Finchley -- still well within the margin of error. Lawyer Sarah Sackman is the Labour candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, hoping to remove Tory incumbent Mike Freer.
ComRes interviewed 2,036 British adults online between April 10 and 12 as part of the poll, just days before Labour and the Conservatives launched their election manifestos.
Lord Ashcroft Polls interviewed between 1,000 and 1,002 adults in each constituency by telephone between April 2 and 11.