Everybody celebrates in different ways. After 100 days of the coalition in power Labour can today take heart in the news that it and the Conservatives are both on 37%, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll.
That’s very encouraging for Labour as the party waits for a new leader to be elected. It suggests that once a leader is in place the party will be in a much stronger position to oppose the coalition.
The news for the Lib Dems, however, continues to flow one way. The party continues to slip in the polls. The Guardian poll puts them on 18% while a Sun/YouGov poll puts them on 14%.
The Guardian poll also found that the voice of the Lib Dems was being perceived to merge with that of the Tories as the party struggles to convince “the public that it remains distinctive”.
Asked to choose between two descriptions of the coalition, 56% agreed that it was ‘a Conservative-dominated government being propped up by the Liberal Democrats’. This first description was preferred by a majority (52%) of the Lib Dems own supporters and 63% of those who voted for it in the spring. Ouch.
This as Simon Hughes, the party’s deputy leader, continues to undermine Nick Clegg and the right of the Lib Dems. This morning Hughes said that Lib Dem MPs should have a veto on policies put forward by the coalition government and that in his mind a future coalition between the Lib Dems and Labour was “still on the agenda”.
Hughes said that that a coalition with Labour and his party was not only still “on the agenda”, but possibly as early as the next general election.
This could make for a stormy conference for Nick Clegg next month where some party members are likely to make their unhappiness on the government’s spending cuts programme clear.
In a much more secure position than his Lid Dem partner, David Cameron and his party celebrated 100 days in office like this: by planning to cut those who are eligible to receive winter fuel payments. The qualifying age for winter fuel payments could be raised from 60 to 66 for the annual handout.
The Daily Telegraph reports that talks are under way about an even bigger rise. The basic winter fuel payment, made to more than 12 million people, will also be cut by £50 for new recipients and £100 for the oldest.
The story of cuts from the coalition appears to be the same. The poorest and the weakest in society are being hardest hit.
“Winter Fuel Payments, pioneered by Labour, help pensioners through the winter and fight fuel poverty. Up and down Britain, pensioners rely on this benefit to get by. The payments Labour introduced mean many pensioners can heat their homes without worrying and fretting over the energy bill to come. The Prime Minister’s dishonesty is unacceptable. If these reports are true, this is yet another broken promise by this Coalition Government.”