In the final series of The Crown, there is a scene where John Major, as Tory Prime Minister, meets Prince Charles about a damaging poll on the Queen. Mr. Major warns the prince, who, according to the script, wants his mother to abdicate, that being “guided by the polls is dangerous”.
The former prime minister called the entire portrayal “malicious fiction”, but it’s worth saying the fictionalized version of himself was certainly wrong about the polls. Major of course had bad poll after bad poll until Tony Blair led Labor to hand him and the Tories the most crushing defeat in their history in 1997.
But now the polls tell us, consistently, that the Conservative Party faces something even worse than that.
Essentially what the survey of 1,624 UK voters tells us is that in the three key areas where the Tories were elected in 2019, the belief is that they failed. It’s about as damning as an indictment.
Add to that the Techne UK weekly poll which shows that after the budget, Labor has gained a three point lead from 19 points to 22 with 50% of the vote against 28 for the Conservatives.
The previous week Techne’s survey showed that even before the budget voters thought Sir Keir Starmer would be a better prime minister than Rishi Sunak by 40% to 36%.
The results are mirrored in other polls too and when Redfield and Wilton released results giving Labor a 24 point lead, Boris Johnson ally Nadine Dorries posted a very telling Tweet.
She said: ‘On the day Tory MPs and ministers submitted their letters and removed our most successful prime minister in a generation, we were 4 or 5 points behind.
It’s a sense of desperation shared by many Tory MPs, perhaps particularly those now convinced the party is in the throes of “a socialist takeover”.
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One noted Liz Truss who actually only lasted 48 days in office, noting that the impact of market swings after the mini-budget has already worn off. “They try to blame Liz for the economic problems, but really none of this is her fault. It’s all about Rishi Sunak’s legacy as chancellor, the pandemic lockdown and the refusal to downsize the state.
Others are considering submitting a letter just weeks after the new leader’s Premiership start, but most are too exhausted. What seems to be the main problem is that none of them seem to know how to rebuild trust in key policy areas.
The revelation that Mr Sunak’s government is considering semi-Swiss-style EU membership will do little to spur confidence in its ability to maximize the benefits of Brexit.
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Meanwhile, despite rhetoric, agreements with the French and deteriorating weather conditions, hundreds of illegal migrants continue to cross the English Channel in small boats every day.
And the tax hikes and spending cuts announced by Mr Hunt on Thursday are hardly a package to win an election.
Tellingly, every age, social, education and income category has a net disapproval rating on the economy.
Even retirees whose triple lock guarantee was protected were 49% disapproving to 40% approving.
Many people voted for Brexit to finally regain control of Britain’s borders, but now two-thirds (67%) of 2016 Leave voters have no faith in the government’s latest move with the French.
Moreover, four in 10 voters (39%) think they have failed to maximize the benefits of Brexit.
Many of those voters will be people who first voted Conservative in the former Labor heartland where the Conservatives won Red Wall seats in historic turnarounds.
If the latest Techne poll is true, Electoral Calculus calculates that Labor would have a majority of 272 and the Tories would have 99 seats far worse than Major’s humiliating defeat.
Even if this is an exaggeration, it is difficult to see how the Conservatives can change things when the public has lost faith in them to solve the fundamental problems they promised.