Predictions of Labour’s electoral prospects range from the very bad to the apocalyptic. A ComRes poll published the weekend before Theresa May called the Election gave the Conservatives a 21-point lead, eclipsed ten days later by another ComRes poll giving the Tories their highest vote share (50%) since January 1991.
Today’s poll for the Daily Mirror, while not a measure of voting intention, does reveal important insights into why Labour faces its worst election defeat since the 1930s.
Despite the Draft Manifesto’s eccentric arrival into the public domain, much of its contents meet with broad public approval:
- 71% support banning zero-hours contracts
- 74% support keeping the pension age 66 and no higher
- 65% support increasing income tax for those on salaries above £80,000
Not all of Labour’s policies are as appealing though. It is easy to forget from the comfort of the Westminster Bubble that immigration was if not the most significant then certainly a major factor behind the 2016 Brexit vote. Labour’s Draft Manifesto pledge to scrap the net migration cap stands out as the least popular of all the major measures tested, opposed by 49% to 32%. Even 28% of Labour’s own voters wanted to see the cap maintained.
Looking at Labour’s policies overall, almost half of voters (47%) say they are less likely to vote for the Party having read or heard about them, while only 34% say they are more likely to. Labour’s policies are also seen as less realistic or well thought through as the Conservatives’.
But all that pales into insignificance against the most intractable challenge for the Party, illustrated by the single finding that almost six in ten (56%) voters believe Jeremy Corbyn would be ‘a disaster as Prime Minister’ - including one in six Labour voters. And voter antipathy is indeed personal: where only 5% of voters said they liked the Conservative Party but not Theresa May, more than five times that proportion said they liked the Labour Party but not Jeremy Corbyn.
One of my personal favourites to ask voters is where they see themselves on a left wing / right wing scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is very left wing and 10 is very right wing. The responses are highly revealing of the electorate’s perspective on the Party leaders. Jeremy Corbyn is on the far left of perceptions, and is seen as more to the Left than Donald Trump is to the right:
|Corbyn||Lab Party||Green Party||SNP||Lib Dems||Farron||‘My own views’||UKIP||T May||Con Party||Farage||Trump|
In today’s ComRes/Mirror poll, only 57% of voters said they had definitely made up their minds how they will vote on June 8th. In the remaining 27 days of this campaign, the best that Labour can hope for is that their own vote holds up where it needs to, but it must also to raise its game: only 20% think they have run the best campaign so far, compared to more than double that (42%) who say the same of the Conservatives’.
Time is running out. Mr Corbyn may enjoy the purity of holding radical socialist views untrammelled by compromise, but he is likely to do so from the lonely wilderness of electoral disaster.