The Conservatives' 19 point lead over Labour

The Conservatives' 19 point lead over Labour

Theresa May has just come out of a terrible week: the threat of Scottish independence looming, a huge £70,000 fine for her party's conduct during the 2015 campaign, a dramatic budget U-turn in just seven days and rumours thereafter that all is not well in the 10-11 Downing Street relationship.

And then we zoom out: the Prime Minister has enjoyed considerable popularity in her eight-month-odd tenure.  Her net approval ratings are still comfortably above zero - a great achievement for a Prime Minister - and her party has hardly dipped below 40 percent in the opinion polls in the last few months.  Surely, then, this week was going to bring some political normality to the Prime Minister?  It was inevitable that she could no longer bask in 16-point leads over the Labour party, right?  Even standing against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party, surely the Conservatives' lead would go down a little - low teens, perhaps? Maybe even below ten points?

Nope: ICM's latest poll for the Guardian has been released today and it is an absolute train-wreck for Labour.

We've gone through the cross-tabs so you don't have to, and here are the top 7 things we think you should know:

1. The Conservatives are now 19 points ahead of Labour.  No, that's not a typo.  The Tories, on 45%, have moved up one point while Labour has fallen two percentage points and is now at 26%.  Martin Boon, Director of ICM, notes that Labour is now at 1983 levels in ICM's polls.  Take a look at our interactive poll of polls below.  Since Theresa May came to office in July, the Conservatives have hovered around the 40-45 percent mark, while Labour have been on a remarkably steady slide toward electoral oblivion since April.  At the time of writing, the Conservatives stand at 43.25% in our model, 16.75 points ahead of Labour.

2. The Conservatives are ahead of Labour among voters of all ages.  That's right; even among young voters.  And check out the lead they have among voters aged 75 and older: 72% of these voters intend to vote Tory, with only 10% saying they'd vote Labour.  This gets worse when you consider the differential turnout of older voters: while 79% of these 75+ voters intend to vote at the next election, only 42% of younger voters say the same.  72% of all voters aged over 64 say they are certain to vote at the next election, and they give the Tories a 48 point lead over Labour.

3. The Tories are ahead of Labour even in their traditional strongholds, like Wales and the North.  In the graphic below, we show the support for both major parties in each region of the country - the exception being Scotland, where we've included the SNP as it is the largest party.  These results are just astonishing.  For the Tories to be ahead in the South is not surprising, but to have a 30 point lead in the Midlands? That's devastating for Labour.  Even the Conservatives' small lead in the North should be deeply worrying for Labour - the North is traditionally seen as the working class base of the party.

4. Labour is losing some of its Remainers to the Lib Dems, but are losing just as many of its Leavers to the Conservatives.  Since the Labour leadership whipped the party's MPs to pass the Brexit Bill through the House without any amendments, there's been outcry from critics of the Labour leader that he sacrificed Labour's Remainers in order to appeal to some of the nation's Leave voters.  Corbyn's position was an unenviable one: should he try to keep his party voters, who disproportionately voted Remain, onside, or should he appeal to both the 48% and 52%?  Well, it turns out that despite backing the government's 'hard Brexit' stance, his party is losing 10% of its 2015 voters to the Conservatives, while 11% of the party's voters at the last election now back the firmly-Remain Liberal Democrats.

5. The Conservatives are ahead of Labour among both Remainers and Leavers.  This ICM poll puts the Tories at 39% among Remainers, ahead of Labour which sits at 32% - this seven point deficit for Labour is clearly better than its overall deficit, but is nevertheless remarkably poor considering the Conservatives have moved very clearly away from the political position of Remain voters in order to court their UKIP-y flank.  It makes sense, then, that the Tories' lead among Leavers is even greater: a massive 53% of those who voted to leave the European Union in 2016 now back the Conservatives, while only 18% - 18% - intend to vote Labour.

6. Labour is now seen as more dishonest than the Conservatives.  Though Theresa May described her party's image as the 'nasty party', it seems that voters don't exactly think Labour are beyond reproach, either.  In fact, although the Tories have a 'net honesty' rating of -7 (19% identifying the party as honest with 26% disagreeing), Labour has a rating of -11.

7. Theresa May and Philip Hammond are much more trusted on the economy than Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.  The issue of economic competence is absolutely crucial for any party, and could well help explain Labour's loss in the 2015 election.  According to these ICM numbers, then, Labour is in real trouble.  When asked which duo they'd prefer in 10 and 11 Downing Street, 44% plumped for the Prime Minister and Chancellor, while only 31% went for the Labour leader and the Shadow Chancellor.  What's even worse, considering the Chancellor's Budget U-turn, is that May and Hammond have moved up one point while their Labour opposition have fallen one point since the Budget.

Tldr; this poll is an absolute disaster for the Labour party.  If the Tories can suffer the worst week they've had in months and come out of it with a historic lead over the opposition, the question must be asked: can Labour really come back from this?

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