Blow for Labour as teachers move to Conservative

15th January 2010 at 00:00
Poll of voting intentions reveals shift towards the right in Wales

Original paper headline: Blow for Labour as teachers come round to Conservatives

Teachers in Wales would be more likely to vote for the Tories over Labour in a general election, a new survey suggests.

The Ipsos MORI poll of voting intentions also shows that Welsh teachers think that Labour and the Conservatives would do an equally good job of running the education system.

The results will come as a blow to the Welsh Labour party and in particular its new leader, first minister Carwyn Jones, whose leadership campaign was founded on promises of more investment in education.

The poll, commissioned by educational charity the Sutton Trust, surveyed 1,000 primary and secondary teachers from across England and Wales.

When asked which political party, if any, they were more inclined to support, 18 per cent of respondents in Wales said the Conservatives, compared with 17 per cent for Labour, 16 per cent for Plaid Cymru and 14 per cent for the Liberal Democrats.

In the combined England and Wales results, Labour was more popular, with 25 per cent of teachers saying they would vote for the party, compared with 18 per cent for the Conservatives.

Across England and Wales, Tory support among teachers has doubled since 2005.

The number of Welsh teachers who took part in the poll was less than 100, meaning the results can only be taken as an indication. However, they suggest that the Conservatives are more popular with teachers in Wales than over the border.

The results of the survey's second question are also bad news for Labour, as an equal number of Welsh teachers (23 per cent) said that either of the two main political parties would be the best for the education system over the next few years.

This was significantly higher than the number of English teachers (14 per cent) who said the Conservatives would do a better job.

The Conservative share of the vote in Wales has grown steadily in recent years as the party has worked hard to recover from the general election in 1997, when it failed to return any MPs to Westminster.

In the 2008 local elections the party made huge gains at the hands of Labour and took control of a number of councils for the first time.

This poll will leave the Tories even more confident of repeating their success in last year's European Union elections, where they finished top of the poll in Wales with 21 per cent of the vote, overtaking Labour for the first time since before the First World War.

The Welsh Labour party will be hoping the respondents were basing their answers on Westminster education policies rather than those from Cardiff Bay.

Despite ongoing concerns over school funding, the Labour-led Assembly government's educational policies have largely proved popular with teachers. New first minister Mr Jones has made the education system his main priority, and recently said that education is the key to Wales' future success.

Previous polls carried out by The TES showed backing for the Labour in England and Wales had fallen from 43 per cent in 2001 to 29 per cent in 2005.

Although this poll is not directly comparable, the figures suggest an overall downward trend in support for Labour.

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