More than a third of voters believe that the coalition is less ethical than the last Labour government, according to a new poll.
It finds that 35% believe the current government was either a lot or a little less ethical than the last administration. Another 34% said there was no difference between the two governments and one in four felt the coalition was more ethical.
The results will be a blow to the coalition, which has placed an emphasis on its break from the methods and attitudes of Gordon Brown's regime.
It has also regularly employed the language of morality when discussing the tax arrangement of multinationals and individuals. The prime minister was drawn into a row when he described the tax arrangements of comedian Jimmy Carr as 'morally wrong'.
Yet the poll suggests that a series of scandals, from the resignations of former chief secretary to the Treasury David Laws over expenses, former defence secretary Liam Fox over his links with an adviser, and the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell over "plebgate", has tarnished the government's image.
The resignation of Chris Huhne, the former energy secretary, from his parliamentary seat – and his potential imprisonment over speeding charges – is unlikely to improve the government's reputation.
The Opinium/Observer poll shows that the voting did follow party lines, although almost one in five (18%) Liberal Democrats believed the coalition was less ethical than the last Labour government.
The poll also shows that Labour now has a 10 point lead over the Conservatives. Labour would get the vote of 39% of those polled, the Tories 29%, Ukip 14% and the Lib Dems 8%.
There was further bad news for the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, as his party faces a byelection in Eastleigh, Hampshire, following Huhne's resignation: nearly two thirds (63%) disapprove of him personally.
Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,953 GB adults from 5-7 February. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
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