The Labour Party still has the greatest support among teachers in England and Wales according to the first poll of teachers’ voting intentions in the run up to the General Election. But there are some indications that historical support for the party is dwindling and there is some scepticism among teachers as to which of the political parties would be best for education.
The poll of 1,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools was carried out by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by the Sutton Trust.
A significant number (15%) of teachers are still undecided which way to vote and a further one in ten say they will not go to the polls. One third (34%) could not say which party would be best for education and 1 in 12 (8%) said that all the parties “were as bad as each other”.
The poll (carried out between October 19th and December 3rd 2009) found that 25% of teachers would vote Labour if there was a General Election tomorrow as opposed to 18% who would vote Tory and 14% Liberal Democrat. One in six teachers (16%) in Wales would vote for the Welsh Nationalist Party. No support for the BNP was reported.
While 26% of teachers aged 35 or more would vote Labour compared with 16% who would vote Conservative, views amongst younger teachers are less polarised: 22% of those aged 34 and younger would vote Labour compared with 21% who would vote Conservative. It is not clear whether this can be attributed to the greater tendency of younger teachers to say they are undecided (18% vs 13%), or whether younger teachers are genuinely as inclined to be in tune with the Conservatives as with Labour.
Previous polls by The Times Educational Supplement showed support among teachers for Labour slumping from 43% in 2001 to 29% in 2005. So while not directly comparable, these latest results suggest a continuing downward trend, while Conservative support has doubled from 9% in 2005.