Our political columnist The Rebel here reports on how the UK polls still look good for the Tories but not so good for Labour.
Amid all the hoo-ha about the UK Government’s inept handling of the pandemic, with U-turns and policy changes, as well as the success of the opposition party’s newish leader in pulling them out of the rabbit hole of irrelevance they had disappeared into, one thing should be emphasised: The Conservatives are still neck-and-neck with Labour in the polls.
Some even put them ahead.
Last weekend Deltapoll in the Mail on Sunday had the Tories on 42 per cent, with Labour on 38 per cent, while an Opinium poll in the Observer put them on 39 per cent, and Labour on 42 per cent.
Yet even this has rattled Tory backbenchers.
One told me: “We have had a terrible summer. Rishi (Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer) is doing well, but not Boris. He needs to be more visible, because he is a great asset for us. We can’t go on like this”.
Rather more attention was given to the poll from Opinium as the Labour lead is the first we’ve seen since July 2019.
But we’ve also had a couple of polls showing the main parties equally popular recently.
One from Redfield & Wilton this week, showed them both at 40 per cent.
YouGov’s poll for the Times a few days ago also had the two biggest parties neck-and-neck at 40 per cent.
Looking across the various polls it is clear that the two main parties are heading towards roughly the same levels of support.
It helps Labour’s Keir Starmer to be seen as a winner, who has put his party back into the lead, so his supporters are concentrating on the Opinium poll.
However Boris Johnson’s backers are focusing on the Deltapoll.
But apart from Deltapoll other surveys have put the Tories ahead too.
Survation has them two points up on Labour and NCPolitics put them four points in the lead earlier in September.
It appears that the ‘rally round the flag’ factor – the tendency for people to support the Government at times of national crisis – has now dissipated, although it hasn’t gone altogether.
It is obvious that public opinion is increasingly critical of the UK Government’s handling of the pandemic, but this hasn’t translated into lasting good numbers for Labour.
In YouGov’s tracking poll, the proportion of people thinking the UK Government is handling Covid-19 well is down to 30 per cent (lower than any of the other countries tracked), so the question may reasonably be asked as to why the Conservatives aren’t doing better!
Part of the answer could be the underlying factor of Brexit (and some reported signs are that there COULD yet be a deal – Michael Gove the minister of ‘no-deal’ planning is said to be terrified by the prospect).
Bojo was elected primarily on a platform of delivering Brexit, and it is still seen as one of the most important issues facing the UK with the Conservatives having a solid lead in delivering it.
But there is also still a lack of confidence in the Labour party.
While Sir Keir is seen as a potential Prime Minister, people still appear to have very little idea what he stands for.
A YouGov poll contained questions asking what issues people cared about the most, and the factors people think Labour and Sir Keir himself embody.
The figures showed an overwhelming ‘Don’t know’.
Only 28 per cent of people believe that the Labour party looks ready for government in Westminster, and they have negative trust ratings on issues like the economy, Brexit or defence and security.
While Sir Keir’s leadership has had a good start, it is clear that the Labour party has a long way to go.
He must be frustrated by the polls – as must all the Labour supporters!
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