In a week dominated by the war in Ukraine, focus on polls has dwindled.
33-34% of respondents stated that their voting intentions for the next election are Conservative. Meanwhile, Labour is hovering at around 38 – a notably small lead for a party opposing a Prime Minister whose approval ratings are far underwater.
Encouragingly for the Tories, the number of 2019 Conservative voters stating they’d vote the same way at the next election is at its highest since early November – before ‘Partygate’. Likely a result of a shift in the British political narrative from Downing Street drinks to Donetsk. We are seeing a party putting what some MPs have dismissed as ‘trivial nonsense’ aside, in favour of a united front.
Labour has been put in a difficult position – to continue to criticise the Government for its pandemic conduct, or align with it, and show unity against the Russian-incited Ukrainian crisis. This conundrum has seen Sir Keir Starmer’s support ebb since January. A month ago, Labour was leading by roughly 9%, with numbers in the low 40s. Today, it leads by about 5%, and has dipped to 38%. Which begs the question, where has that support gone?
It is safe to assume that the Conservatives growing support is not a result of defecting are not Labour voters, but what may have impacted Labour support is Starmer’s bold statement that ‘we’ve exited the EU and we’re not going back. There is no case for rejoining’, last week. According to Techne, Starmer’s comments were divisive, with 45% agreeing, and 33% disagreeing. Crucially, 64% of Labour’s base disagreed, with 73% of remain voters feeling the same about his statement.
The Green Party, having enjoyed a successful 2021, continues to rumble on, with 6-7%. This would be the best election performance for the party ever, and is also important in explaining why Labour isn’t leading with a larger margin. Support for the Liberal Democrats is also growing; wavering Lib Dems have been encouraged home by victories in Chesham & Amersham and North Shropshire. The task for Sir Ed Davey now is to move beyond these voters, and convince those who have not previously voted Lib Dem to do so.
It is likely that Conservative support will grow further in the coming week. As we saw with the Salisbury poisoning, the UK unites against the common enemy – Russia. By early March, we could expect Labour’s lead to fall to 3% – a prime example of Boris Johnson’s magic ability to shake off scandal.
Watching this will be Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who may have been jolted by a YouGov poll, showing his popularity to be underwater for the first time in his tenure as Chancellor. His numbers have dipped considerably, from 52% during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, to 30% now – making him likely to attempt to kickstart ‘Brand Rishi’ soon.
On the figures this week, and recognising that we are wildly premature (!), we’re forecasting a hung parliament: