By Russell Bruce
The Times has a YouGov poll that is causing consternation in Tory ranks. There is an old saying parties don’t win elections they lose them. If this poll was to be replicated in real life then the next election is the Tories to lose. The election is 2 years away if the Tories can get their house in a semblance of order. They don’t have a choice given this poll. Truss’ days have to be numbered she just has not the ability or sense to get a handle on the mood in the country by insisting on doubling down on her policies. It is doubtful that she is capable of a rethink to preserve her premiership. Truss’ ‘maxi’ budget based on maxing out the UK credit card has no sense of being a flexible friend to the people of these islands.
We know Kwarteng is looking at cutting benefits and has refused to rule out maintaining Sunak’s promise to cover the rate of inflation in September. His numbers don’t add up so he is working on austerity with knobs on. He also refused the OBR’s offer to run their slide rule over his plans. He is toast anyway. The question is will Truss finally ditch him in a vain attempt to save her own skin. The YouGov poll is a moment in time but coming before the Conservative conference on Sunday is bound to exercise Tory MPs and the men in grey suits whose traditional role was to remove Conservative leaders when they call time.
It is likely there will be other polls before Sunday. Will they, at UK level, produce similar results to the YouGov poll? We await that with special interest. Even if the YouGov poll turns out to be a bit of an outlier it seems unlikely other polls will not identify at least similar trends but perhaps not such a large lead as YouGov.
The Tories under Truss are in for a hammering unless they start listening to the very real concerns of the electorate and mortgage lenders. The EU and the US both fear a domino effect impacting on international financial markets because the UK is no longer perceived as country whose bonds are safe to hold. It is not just UK pension funds that have been forced to dump UK debt it is an international reaction. There is no protection in being an island nation when it comes to serious financial issues Truss and Kwarteng do not understand.
A feature of the YouGov poll nationally was not just the switch from 2019 Tory voters to Labour but also Lib Dems moving to Labour to get the Tories out. The Lib Dems lost their conference and media coverage due to the mourning period for the late Queen.
The Scottish sample is very small at 147 and with all sub samples caution is order of the day. It did indicate that the SNP share of the vote was up on their last poll. The SNP have not had their conference yet which is due to start on 8th October. Truss might be a temporary caretaker PM by then, a role recently played by Boris Johnson. The Tories do get through leaders at some rate.
The sub sample breakdown for Scotland with those who would not vote, don’t know or refused excluded gives the SNP 44% Labour 38%, Conservatives 10%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 2%, Reform and others 1% each. Like the UK wide sample this suggests Tories and Lib Dems moving to Labour. Other than the Tories are in big trouble and Labour is showing considerable benefit in this poll the SNP are still the largest party. Scottish politics are different due to the 70% who want to rejoin the EU. There is no such interest in England. Again we stress, at best these figures represent a moment in time and considerable caution needs to be exercised due to the small sample size. The methodology does not lend itself to calculations of seat outcomes in Scotland.
Lets wait and see what other polls may show to get a better idea of current trends at UK level. The one thing that is clear is the Conservatives have to make big changes in the wake of this poll that would wipe out the Conservatives in England. Just what they would not have wanted ahead of their conference. It is none-the-less what they need to enable a rapid change from Truss’ and Kwarteng’s agenda in order to give them time to attempt to rebuild support.
We did not have any time for the Johnson government but Truss is 1000 times worse so there is perhaps a tiny modicum of nostalgia for a government that did not actually threaten to put peoples’ homes on the line.
As we suspected the YouGov poll is an outlier. There are three other polls with different leads for Labour: Survation shows a Labour lead of 21%, Delta 19% and Redfield and Wilton 17%. Meanwhile Truss has been forced to meet the OBR and Kwarteng’s revised budget will be given OBR’s assessment.
This article was updated 30th September to reflect the international consequences of the Truss government budget and the other three polls.