Yesterday’s YouGov poll shows the biggest Labour lead since YouGov started doing regular polls of party standings in 2002:
Even more interesting, to me at least, is the table (taken from the ConHome blog) that shows how Labour and the Tories are perceived by voters on a variety of issues:
Labour are unchanged or up in all categories, while the Tories are down in all but three (and merely unchanged in one of those).
As you’d expect, Labour beat the Tories on all the ‘compassion-related’ measures, and knock the Tories into a cocked hat on the NHS, so Hunt’s ‘Big Lie’ that he and his party are protecting the NHS is perceived for what it is by an encouraging number of people.
The Tories still beat Labour on ‘steering’ the economy – but only by a single percentage point, down from 3 points.
Michael Gove’s big ‘con’ on education seems to be clearly understood (as well it should, as apparently he’s transferred over 500 schools worth an average of £10 million each to private hands, according to information I was given at a Westminster meeting last night!), with Labour scoring far higher than the Conservatives.
But a key item is the third one in the table. Labour, having gained a point while the Tories lost 2, now beat them for public confidence in helping businesses grow and recover. The lead is only narrow, but it’s highly significant. If the realisation is filtering through even to the usually dyed-blue business community that the Tories’ deliberate and stubborn mismanagement of the economy is going to be bad for everyone in the long run, then it’s a crucial and encouraging piece of news.
A couple of others that are interesting and encouraging to me:
On the question of ‘Do you think the Labour Party is united or divided at the present time?’ (which you can see, along with other figures, here), 47% of those with a current intention of voting LibDem say ‘divided’.
But of those who voted LibDem in 2010, that figure drops by 17 points to just 30. That suggests to me a massive shift of 2010 LibDem voters away from any thought of voting for them again, with only a hard-core pf support remaining. That hardcore support would answer ‘divided’ in any event out of loyalty to their party and out of a psychological need to think that Labour is in as much trouble as the LibDems are.
On the question ‘Do you approve or disapprove of the government’s record to date?‘, a massive 62% disapprove. This includes 68% of 2010 LibDem voters and even 52% of those who still intend to vote for them.
48% of voters think the government’s spending cuts are bad for the economy – compared to 35% who think it’s good. But a massive 61% answered that the cuts are being done unfairly.
The Tories’ lying attempt to present themselves as the party of fairness is clearly seen through by most of the public. As it well should.
On the negative side, 59% of respondents believe that the cuts are ‘necessary’. This highlights an area where Labour urgently needs to start putting forward a different narrative – if 59% think they’re necessary, but 48% think they’re bad for the economy, there is a lot of confusion among voters.
They will be looking for someone ready to paint a clearer picture for them, one based around a ‘growth and healing’ proposition, not a ‘slash but a bit less unfairly’ one. This is an area where Labour can gain a lot by being bolder.
Similarly, 38% think Labour to blame for the current spending cuts, versus 28% the coalition – even though the 2010 deficit was caused by a huge, global financial crisis (which the coalition is more than ready to use as an excuse for its own poor performance), and even though the economy was recovering before the 2010 election.
Labour needs to work hard to correct this perception – and to be much bolder in refuting the government’s constant, shameless and unfounded ‘inherited mess’ mantra.
There are a lot more data, so I may well write more on them presently, but these are some of the items that jumped out at me most strongly. It seems clear that Labour is doing well to date – but the figures also highlight the areas where they’re not and, in my opinion, give a clear indication that Labour needs to be a lot bolder in refuting the government’s accusations, and a lot more emphatic in how they do so.
Reasons to be cheerful – and resolute.