Golden boy Clegg surges ahead - but will the attack dogs get him?

30th April 2010 at 01:00
When teachers were polled on their voting intentions three months ago, it seemed that Labour had retained their trust. But now a TES poll has found that, as in the country at large, the political landscape is transformed

The majority of teachers intend to vote for the Liberal Democrats come polling day on May 6, a survey carried out by The TES this week suggests.

Teaching staff also said in an online poll that, of the three main parties, the Lib Dems had the best policies for schools.

The party has been enjoying a surge in the polls over the past three weeks, not least thanks to Nick Clegg's performances in the first two live television debates between the three party leaders. The survey was carried out before yesterday evening's debate.

The popularity boost has been reflected in the way teachers intend to vote next week, with 39 per cent of respondents saying they will vote Lib Dem. Based on responses from almost 750 teachers, Labour came in second with 29 per cent while the Conservatives mustered just 23 per cent of the overall vote.

In answering which policies were best, 38 per cent of teachers chose the Lib Dems, with Labour getting 30 per cent and the Conservatives, again coming third with 21 per cent of responses.

The results indicate a shift in mood among teachers after a poll published by the The TES in January, carried out by IpsosMori and the Sutton Trust, showed that teachers intended to vote for Labour in the coming election.

Then, the Lib Dems were third choice among teachers, winning just 14 per cent of votes, and only one in ten thought the Lib Dems would be the best party for education.

In this week's poll, the party received the biggest backing from secondary classroom teachers, with 35 per cent stating that they intended to vote Lib Dem.

Conor Ryan, political blogger and former education adviser to Tony Blair, said the results mirrored the current mood, but added that the progress achieved in education under Labour should not be ignored.

"I think the voting patterns broadly reflect other polls - and it is particularly bad for the Tories, who have been trying to woo teachers," Mr Ryan said.

"However, it is a shame more teachers don't recognise the big improvements in staffing, resources and school infrastructure that have been delivered by the Labour government over the last 13 years."

Commenting on the poll, the Lib Dems said their proposals to inject more cash into the system - approximately pound;2.5 billion - was an attractive offer to teachers, as is their promise to place more trust in the profession.

The party's education spokesman, David Laws, said: "Liberal Democrat plans to invest extra money in schools so they can cut class sizes and offer extra support to children who are struggling will make a real difference and help teachers to make sure every child gets a fair start in life.

"We are committed to giving teachers more freedom to work creatively so they can get the best from all children - releasing them from the stranglehold of meddling politicians."

Neither Conservative or Labour were available for comment.

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