Barely a third of voters know that the Conservatives have promised an extra £8bn a year for the National Health Service by the end of the decade — with 39 per cent thinking it is a Labour policy.
The figures are in a poll by ComRes that shows the mismatch between parties’ election promises and public perceptions with just a week to go until the general election on May 7.
The Tory NHS promise was made by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in early April — when campaigning was already under way — and has failed to attract much notice from voters.
Labour has sought repeatedly to turn focus to the NHS, in the knowledge that the party polls well in this area — in contrast with the economy or immigration.
One senior Labour figure claimed Mr Hunt’s promise of extra money had come too late: “Our belief is that promises made during the final election campaign get the least traction.”
Likewise, the public seems to be unaware that David Cameron’s party has promised to take all workers on the minimum wage out of income tax: only 34 per cent believe this is Conservative policy, against 41 per cent for Labour.
The poll of 2,072 people between April 24 and 26 was commissioned by the Whitehouse Consultancy, a communications firm.
It found that some policies are attributed to the correct party: people realise that lifting the inheritance tax threshold for married couples to £1m is a Conservative policy; that they would withdraw housing benefit from 18 to 21 year-olds; and that Labour would freeze energy prices.
But Labour’s promise to ensure that migrants will not be able to claim benefits until they have lived in the UK for two years is wrongly linked to the Tories by 53 per cent to 24 per cent.
Likewise, only 25 per cent recognised Labour’s pledge to cut the budget deficit every year of the next Parliament — with 49 per cent thinking it was a Tory promise.
Meanwhile, a separate poll has suggested Ukip has more popular policies than the main parties on education and health, when voters are asked on a “blind” basis.
The poll by TNS, on behalf of a group called Vote for Policies, saw participants asked about party promises, without knowing which party had made them.
The most popular education policies were those of the Lib Dems (23 per cent) just ahead of Ukip (21 per cent), followed by Green (15 per cent), Labour and Conservatives (10 per cent respectively).
On health, Ukip came first with 28 per cent, against the Lib Dems on 16 per cent, Labour on 14 and the Tories on 11 per cent.
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