The Conservatives are one point off reaching the highest lead they have ever experienced since records began in 1992, a Guardian/ICM poll shows. The support for the Tories is 44 per cent – the best result since they were in opposition. The Labour Party’s support, on the other hand, remains 28 per cent. The experts polled 2009 people and took in account people’s social class and age.
The Conservatives supersede the Labour party within every social group. The results reveal strong lead for Theresa May’s party even among working class. Only among people aged 18-24 the Labour Party’s popularity remains higher.
- Conservatives (+2) – 44%
- Labour (no change) – 28%
- Ukip (+1) – 12%
- Lib Dems (-2) – 7%
- Greens (+1) – 4%
Conservative lead: 16 points (+ 2)
Source: Guardian/ICM, 29 Nov 2016
The professor of Political economy at King’s College London, Shaun Hargreaves Heap, draws parallels between the results with the way Labour administration has run economy in the past. “Labour Party is not very well-trusted in the opinion polls to handle the economy since 2008 financial crisis and are generally considered to be the risky party. On the other hand, Conservatives have been regarded as the safe pair of hands with the economy,” says Heap.
According to the study, the overall poll rating of the other parties, such as Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Green Party shows their performance remains poor on a national level – none of them has received more than 12%. The same poll also shows that 53 per cent of British people said their confidence in the way politicians run the economy is very or fairly strong.
The Guardian also published another recent research, conducted by the Opinium/Observer poll experts. It is only with regard to the economy and shows that more than twice as many people trust Theresa May and Philip Hammond in terms economy than Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. It also shows that the PM remains popular among the voters – 43 per cent support May.
From a historical perspective, reflecting on the increasing popularity of the Tories on economy, Heap believes it is correct to mention that the two times when British economy had fixed exchange rates and there were high profile devaluations occurred while the Labour Party was in office – during Attlee’s government and Wilson’s administration.
Heap, however, believes that these are not the only events that public should take into account:
“I do not think that the reputation is often bound up with the real facts, but we see that the events that stick out of an unfortunate kind occurred primarily during Labour administration. However, there is no good evidence to suggest that the economy is behaving on any dimension markedly worse under Labour or Conservative government, especially if we look at output growth, unemployment, inflation or the state of public finances.”
Heap adds that the debt-to-GDP ratio, or also the ratio of a country’s public debt to its gross domestic product, when Labour government left office in 2010 was actually smaller in comparison to the time they inherited office in 1997.
“Maybe the Labour Party’s reputation has been affected by some of the high profile events that got stuck in people’s minds and coloured public’s general impression of economic competence. It is true that the landmark events when economy was in crisis tended to happen on the Labour government’s patch more often than during the Conservative administration. The fact that 2008 financial crisis occurred at the end of the Labour government with Gordon Brown formed some expectations, but those moments are not necessarily the whole picture,” says Heap.
He believes that the Labour Party should try to take a more leading role in British politics if they want to become people’s top political choice.
Heap remains sceptical about the post-Brexit environment. He expects rising unemployment and economy slowing down, “largely because of the considerable uncertainty that’s been generated by the Brexit vote“.
He believes that the positioning of the parties is not definitive until Brexit takes place. He also considers that if politicians want the general public to be involved in the process of empowering again the economy, people should have a say in a new general election or in a new referendum.