British Lib Dems battered over tuition fees row: poll

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The British government's decision to raise university fees has sapped support for junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, who had previously opposed such a hike, two polls suggested Sunday.

Two new polls have now laid bare the political cost to the Lib Dems, who vowed before May's election to oppose any further hike in fees but backed down when they joined up with Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives.

Some 46 percent of voters who voted for the Lib Dems in May said they would be unlikely to support them in the next election because of their U-turn on fees, according to an Ipsos MORI poll for the News of The World.

The telephone poll of 809 adults was conducted on December 9-10 -- after the government narrowly won a parliamentary vote on Thursday on its plans to triple the maximum amount universities can charge in England.

And a Sunday Telegraph survey of 2,000 Lib Dem voters in parliamentary seats held by the party found that just 54 percent would back it in the next election, due in 2015.

This survey was conducted a fortnight ago: before the parliamentary vote, but when it was already clear that the Lib Dem leadership had changed its policy on student fees.

The policy sparked student riots and in the latest and most violent demonstrations on Thursday, a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla was attacked by a mob in central London.

Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's personal ratings have also taken a battering -- the Ipsos MORI poll showed that 61 percent of those questioned thought he could not be trusted.

© 2010 AFP

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