Poll shows Tory 'competence' slump
Public opinion on the Conservatives has slumped dramatically since the Budget in March, according to a poll released today.
For the first time since the creation of the coalition Government in 2010, Labour has overhauled the Tories as the party rated most competent and capable by voters in the survey for The Times, and they also lead the Conservatives on the questions of which party is united and which has clear ideas to deal with Britain's problems.
However, Labour's pole position in the three crucial rankings is not the result of a surge in support for Ed Miliband's party - whose ratings remain virtually unchanged since March - but a double-digit drop in confidence in David Cameron's team, including Chancellor George Osborne.
Some 45% of people who knew who Mr Osborne was, told pollsters Populus he should be sacked, compared to just 18% who thought he was doing a good job.
With a Government reshuffle widely expected in September, top candidate for the chop was Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who 53% said should be sacked, followed by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (48%) and Home Secretary Theresa May (46%).
The only Conservative Cabinet minister to get a positive rating in the survey was Foreign Secretary William Hague - tipped by some as a possible replacement for Mr Osborne at the Treasury - with 49% saying he did a good job against 20% saying he should be sacked.
The proportion of voters who think of the Conservatives as "competent and capable" fell by a precipitous 12 percentage points from 46% in March to 34% now, leaving them two points behind Labour on 36% (down one point since March) but still ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 24% (down six).
On party unity, the Tories fell 14 points from 42% in March to 28% now, equal with the Lib Dems (down one point), with both coalition parties trailing well behind Labour on 46% (unchanged).
And on the question of which party had clear ideas to deal with Britain's problems, Conservatives were down 11 points from 44% in March to 33% now, behind Labour on 36% (down two) but well ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 23% (down nine).
Some 40% of those questioned said they would vote Labour (down one point since a similar poll in June), with Conservatives on 34% (up one) and Lib Dems on 12% (up three).