How did Labour climb 26 points to match Tories in opinion polls?
Johnson’s policy confusion and a change of opposition leader has had a dramatic impact
Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has seen the Tory party lose a 26 point opinion poll lead over Labour in six months. Photograph: Getty
Labour is now level-pegging with the Conservatives, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer, which shows the Tories have lost a massive 26-point lead in the five months since March.
The survey - which puts the two main parties on 40 per cent of the vote (the Conservatives are down two points and Labour up one point on a fortnight ago) - will cause further alarm in Tory ranks as internal unrest over the performance of Boris Johnson’s government grows.
At the same time it will be a boost for Labour, as MPs prepare to return to Westminster on Tuesday.
It is the first time since Mr Johnson became Tory leader that Labour has been level, and caps a remarkable surge since Keir Starmer took control of the main opposition party in April.
At the end of March, in the final days of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and when the country was rallying behind Johnson after he imposed the full lockdown on March 23rd, the Tories were 26 points ahead of Labour.
An Opinium poll at the end of the month put them on 54 per cent of the vote, and Labour on 28 per cent.
In the same poll at the end of March a large majority of people (65 per cent) approved of the way the government had handled the Coronavirus crisis, while 23 per cent disapproved.
Five months on, after the UK became one of the worst performing nations and ministers executed a string of policy U-turns, the proportion approving has more than halved to 31 per cent, and that disapproving has more than doubled to 47 per cent.
As schools prepare to reopen in England from Tuesday, a clear majority of people believe it will, however, be safe for young people to go back to the classrooms. Of those questioned, 63 per cent think it will be safe for primary schools to reopen while 30 per cent think it will not be.
For secondary schools, 60 per cent think it will be safe while 33 per cent have doubts.
More people (40 per cent) blame Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, for the recent exams fiasco than lay blame at the door of the regulator Ofqual (29 per cent) or teachers (10 per cent).
Commenting on Labour’s recovery, Adam Drummond of Opinium said: “This is the first time Labour have drawn level since July 2019 when both main parties were in freefall and losing votes to the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats.
“Since Boris Johnson became prime minister the Tories typically had a double-digit lead, peaking in March/April this year when they were seen to be handling the pandemic and lockdown fairly well while Labour changed leader. In the five months since that peak, the lead has gradually declined from 26 per cent to 0 per cent now.”