Some polls are now putting Labour 33 points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls – which is nothing short of staggering. But not surprising and comes alongside this morning’s news that even the prime minister’s own MPs don’t think she can be trusted with handling the economy.
Backbenchers turn on the PM
Up to 50 MPs were ready to vote down the budget if Liz Truss had kept her promise to cut the 45p tax cut, with one rebel telling Politico Playbook “unless 45p is axed there will be a sword of Damocles raised over Tory MPs by their constituents and their opponents”.
It’s not going well for the Tories. Pictures emerged last night of an empty hall at their annual conference, and whilst the fringes may be busier, they can’t be happy places. At an event hosted by the Demos think tank, respected pollster Sir John Curtice explained just what the polls were saying. According to Curtice it was “possible but not inevitable” that the budget chaos of the last week will “seared on voters’ memories” so hard the Tories cannot recover.
Remember Labour went into the 1997 general election a mere 13 points clear and the party still cleaned up on the night. On the current polling if there was a general election tomorrow some predict that the Tories would win only THREE seats across the whole of the UK and two of those would be in Scotland.
Yesterday, @ElectionMapsUk projected that 13 out of 22 cabinet members would lose their seats if an election were to be held today, and six of these would lose their seats by a margin of over 10%.
Polling projections for Yorkshire
Electoral Calculus have done a deeper dive on the current polling. For Yorkshire and Humber it suggests that the Tories would lose 19 seats to Labour (on a vote share of 53% for Labour in the region).
That means that the whole of South and West Yorkshire would turn red. In the east of the region, Scunthorpe and Grimsby would become Labour gains, as would Beverley and Holderness and Scarborough and Whitby. For North Yorkshire, both seats in York would be Labour, Selby would turn red again as would Harrogate and Knaresborough, Beverley and Holderness and Scarborough and Whitby.
The key battlegrounds in the next general election are the red wall seats, unsurprisingly. If Labour can take seats like Elmet back, they would take back power, whereas the Tories need to keep nearly all their 2019 gains to stay in power. At the moment they will be lucky to hold onto Skipton and Ripon.
But before we all get dizzy about the prospects of the next Labour government, let’s remember there are boundary changes to contend with next year and as we all know, a week (day, hour) is a long time in politics. The pound has already recovered somewhat this morning and the markets will be less jittery this week for example.
Can the Conservatives recover?
Professor Richard Rose writing for Electoral Calculus says: “The Electoral Calculus prediction is that Labour’s 15 point lead gives it a 86 percent probability of an absolute majority at the next election with the Conservatives taking only 168 seats”.
It also seems the damage may well be done in the voter’s mind. Remember the fate of John Major’s government after it devalued the pound – the bottom line is that once government policy starts negatively affecting the economy, the writing is on the wall.
As Rose notes:
“The current prospects for the Labour Party show that Sir Keir Starmer does not need the personality of Tony Blair or the clarity on policy of Margaret Thatcher to become the next British prime minister. All he needs is for the adage to hold: Opposition parties don’t win elections governments lose them”.
All this is of course speculative. It assumes that there will be little bounce for the Tories and it makes the assumption that other parties’ vote share will stay constant. The polls are a reflection of the volatility of the politics. But even so, it is still hard to see what Prime Minister Truss has at her disposal to turn this round.
And of course, it’s not just voters who will be deserting the Conservative Party, its donors are also considering their positions. The Times this morning reported of the defection of millionaire Gareth Quarry to the Labour Party, giving them £100,000 saying there will be more. It’s likely others will be following his lead.
At the Conservative Party conference fringe event last night, Curtice said Truss needed to start on the front foot. Today’s reversal seems to be not just wrong footed, it could well take the legs from under the prime minister and her chancellor completely.