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What’s happening to the Labour vote?

Some welcome news for a change. Well, welcome-ish. The Tories have a lead in the polls that no superlative can accurately capture. Yet something interesting is happening to the Labour vote. It’s firming up. That’s right, the highest polling since before last year’s referendum shambles and in advance of what Saint Ed got two years back. Of course, we know that there’s only one poll that matters and there’s a bit of time to go yet, but it’s positive. Labour may be way behind, it’s still on course for defeat, but it’s not tanking. The vote isn’t disintegrating.

How to explain this rally in the polls? After all, Jeremy’s personal ratings are stuck in the doldrums, even if there’s been modest put perceptible shifts here too. Getting by in campaigning exile while enduring marking hell, I am going to hazard three guesses not at all informed by the doorstep.

The first is Labour’s schizoid campaign is working. Readers will recall how Labour is throwing down twin tracks. That travelled by the leader repeating his summer leadership campaigns, but on steroids. And the train packed with everyone else, of practically every sitting MP running their own local election campaign for local people. Don’t like Jezza? That’s fine, we’re not going to win anyway so keep your friendly neighbourhood Labour MP at Westminster. Second, this election has seen a tsunami of policy, and practically every day Labour has led the media’s talking points with eye catching policies. The bank holidays, the minimum wage, the tuition fee abolition, 10,000 extra coppers, the Robin Hood tax, the freezing of tax for people on incomes under £80k. People aren’t keen on the waiter, but polling has consistently shown substantial support for his policy menu. Meanwhile, the Tories studied refusal to say anything other than trite and tiresome soundbites amplifies the reach of these pledges. Enough to get people planning to vote Tory take another look at Labour? Maybe not, but given our hyper localism, it might be enough to encourage them to support their nice sitting MP.

Thirdly, there’s the recomposition of the Labour vote, which has accompanied the effective rebirth of the Labour Party. As we saw in the Stoke by-election, Jeremy was a bit of a polarising figure. He was a push factor for some voters, but a big pull for others. And that, at last, might be working its way through the considerations of millions of people. Remember, for the under 40s Labour leads the Tories. Unfortunately, the largely Tory older voter is more likely to turn out than their children and grandchildren, but the more younger people are mobilised – be it by Labour’s messaging, Jezza’s person, or the sheer horror of a decadent and damaging Tory party getting a thumping majority – the Tory margin of victory gets smaller. Perhaps the shift in the polls is reflecting the fact that younger voters are going to turn up in greater numbers than was the case in 2015. If they do and May is denied the landslide she craves, then politics is going to get very interesting.


  1. Tony says:


    If Labour has learned from its abysmal campaign in 2015 then it could get a better than expected result. There are some indications that this is the case.

    Potentially, Labour has many more people it can deploy in this campaign. If it can turn out a good percentage of these people for campaigning in the marginal seats then it could well have a better ground campaign. The ground campaign advantage was lost in 2015.

    However, it is important that people are able to provide answers particularly to those who have doubts about Jeremy Corbyn.

    The Conservatives rely on their attacks going unanswered and this must not happen this time.

  2. Shirley Knott says:

    There’s getting on for 2 million newly registered voters since the GE was called. The registration site shares breakdown by voter age but not by constituency. It would be very interesting to know where these voters are and their potential impact on their different constituencies – especially, of course, the marginals.

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