Tory research uncovers a politically ‘orphaned’ Catholic middle class?

Liam Clarke had an analysis piece in the BelTel yesterday (I still want to say last night) in which he cited some party polling by Lucid Talk for the Conservatives. [Nationalists, you may want to look away from the screen for a while, since this is what the Tories consider their best battleground territory].

It’s worth noting that this is both more and less than your average poll. Only the Tories could afford to put in the field a survey of 12,000 voters in key battleground areas.

The results are non trivial (not least for the Tories themselves).

First, those who would consider voting Conservative or Labour is high, especially amongst those self identifying as Catholic or Protestant:

The poll showed that 76% of voters in the area covered would consider voting Conservative or Labour if they had the chance. Opinion was fairly evenly spread between Protestants (78%) and Catholics (79%), but those outside the two main faith groups were less enthusiastic (68%).

Not sure what to make of that other than in these areas that’s a demographic that already identifies strongly with the Alliance Party, which has strong ties to the Lib Dems.

The kicker though is somewhat devastating to those who might take this as an indication people are ready for the big UK parties are set to clean up here any time soon. Just 7% want them to organise here.

And that’s despite the fact that only 15% of the local electorate think the party they voted for last time out have performed well.

The figures on education are interesting. Bearing in mind the caveat I lodged at the beginning, we can’t extrapolate these as representative of wider nationalist sentiment.

However, they indicate a strong pro selection view amongst a Catholic middle class that currently has no representation within party politics on this issue:

Of those expressing an opinion nearly three-quarters (73%) wanted selection “at key stages” in the education system with 43% saying that it should take place at age 11 and the rest at age 14.

For Catholics, the figures were 42% and 27%. Despite opposition to selection by the Catholic Church, the SDLP and Sinn Fein, only 26% of Catholics favoured a comprehensive education system, slightly higher than the proportion of Protestants — 19%.

That seven per cent should be read advisedly. Like those who, according to a previous Lucid Talk poll, want a united Ireland now, it probably reflects a sense of what’s currently likely rather than the limits of realistic ambition.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty