It seems that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party can do nothing right. Because even after the Tories delivered a budget that will hit the poorest people the hardest and make us pay more tax, they’ve managed to increase their lead in not one but two opinion polls.
A budget for who?
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget was delivered on Wednesday 27 October. In short, it’s likely to make the poorest people worse off. Part of this is because of the previous £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit. Sunak’s budget made some changes to social security, but for some people, this won’t make up for the cut.
Meanwhile, according to the PA news agency, analysts have said the tax burden on the country (how much we pay) will reach a level not seen since Clement Attlee’s Labour government in the 1950s. So with higher taxes and less money in people’s pockets, you’d think it would have been an opinion poll bonanza for Labour. Wrong.
A Tory bounce
As PA reported, the Tories hold a five-point lead over Labour in a new opinion poll. Starmer’s Labour slumped by two points from 37% to 35%, according to a survey by Opinium for the Observer. Meanwhile the Conservatives went from 41% to 40%.
You’d think that Labour could have capitalised on the shortcomings in the budget, as well as the recent sewage dumping scandal, to present itself as an effective alternative to the current government. Yet both Boris Johnson and Starmer’s approval ratings remain similar to two weeks ago. 32% approve of the job the prime minister is doing (no change) and 48% disapprove, down two percentage points. Meanwhile, Starmer has a 27% approval of the job he’s doing, down three percentage points, while 36% disapprove, down two percentage points. Following the budget, Sunak’s numbers saw a little bounce back, with his approval rating rising to 41% from 39%.
But Opinium wasn’t the only polling company to report a Tory lead increase. As Britain Elects tweeted, YouGov showed similar – with the Tories increasing their lead over Labour by two percentage points:
Another poll found the majority (53%) of people “approved” of the budget:
Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, told PA:
Sunak has delivered another reasonably well received Budget and his approval ratings have seen a slight boost as a consequence. The other good news for the Chancellor is that, while 46% voters think the economy is still in a bad state, this is down from 64% back in March. However, a warning sign for the government is that people are more pessimistic about both the prospects for both UK economy and their personal finances over the next 12 months.
How on earth have the Tories managed to increase their lead following a budget that raises taxes and hits the poorest the hardest? That’s the question the Labour Party needs to be asking itself right now.
Featured image and additional reporting via PA