New polling has indicated that the Labour Party is leading the Tories on Westminster voting intention by five points as voters react to the government’s new coronavirus lockdown, which came into force on Thursday.
In research carried out between November 4th and 5th, YouGov found that 40% of those polled expressed support for the Labour Party while just 35% of them said they were planning on supporting the Conservatives.
This is the highest margin recorded in favour of Labour by the polling agency since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. The last time YouGov recorded a five-point lead to the opposition party was in mid-July 2018.
The new data found that among those surveyed and likely to vote, on top of the 40% backing Labour and the 35% supporting the Tories, a further 7% backed the Lib Dems and 5% expressed support for the SNP.
It also indicated that support for Labour among young people was holding up, with 48% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 50% of 25- to 49-year-olds expressing support for Labour, compared to 16% and 26% respectively for the Tories.
The new polling will likely prove to be a strong vindication of Labour leader Keir Starmer, who called for a short, sharp ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown weeks ago but saw the call rejected by Boris Johnson in favour of his tiered local Covid restrictions.
Since then, the government has been forced to implement its own nationwide lockdown for England, which will last a month compared to Labour’s proposed two or three weeks and comes weeks after SAGE first warned of rising infection rates.
Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister in Monday’s House of Commons Covid update of having “overpromised and under-delivered” at “every stage” of the crisis and highlighted “the human cost of the government’s inaction”.
The gap between Starmer and Johnson on the question of who would make a better Prime Minister widened in today’s YouGov analysis by several points in comparison to similar polling from last week.
36% of those surveyed this week said the Labour leader would make a better Prime Minister than Johnson, a ten-point lead on the Tory incumbent who was backed by just 26% of respondents. Last week, Starmer led by 34% to 29%.
The new polling comes in the week following the suspension of former Labour Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party in response to his much-criticised reaction to the EHRC report on antisemitism.
The EHRC concluded on Thursday that Labour is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act – relating to political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide adequate training to those handling them; and harassment.
Corbyn issued a statement in response to the EHRC report, which claimed the “the scale of the [antisemitism] problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”.
A Labour spokesperson subsequently announced that Corbyn had been suspended, and the Parliamentary Labour Party whip removed from the Labour MP, “in light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them”.
Several MPs and groups within the Labour Party, as well as trade union Unite leader Len McCluskey, have argued that the suspension is wrong, and called on the Labour leader to reverse the disciplinary action taken against Corbyn.
YouGov polling last week indicated that 58% of the public thought that the party was right to suspend Corbyn, compared to 13% who thought it was wrong. 29% of respondents opted for ‘don’t know’.
The new YouGov results follow the release of an Ipsos MORI poll last week, which also showed that Labour leads the Tories by five points, with 42% of people supporting Labour compared to 37% backing the Tories.
In research carried out between October 22nd and 28th, Ipsos MORI found that support for the opposition party rose by five points since last month while the popularity of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party fell by three.
It marked the first time that Labour has been ahead in an Ipsos MORI poll since Theresa May stepped down as Prime Minister and Johnson took over the top job, with the party seeing its best score since March 2018.