More trouble for Labour: Ashcroft

More trouble for Labour: Ashcroft

Yesterday, Lord Ashcroft released a bumper poll of voters’ opinions towards Britain’s top politicians and parties, as well as towards Brexit and what they think Brexit should look like.  Released in a 45-page report full of great data, Ashcroft also includes feedback from a number of focus groups.  If you can find the time, we definitely suggest you take a look at the report in full, because it really is superb.  If you haven’t the time, though, don’t worry: here, we give you our 7 top take-aways.  In this post, we’ll focus exclusively on Theresa May and the Conservatives, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, and the most important issues voters think Britain faces.  Later on, we’ll publish our analysis of the ‘Brexit’ half of Lord Ashcroft’s report.  As ever – enjoy!

1.       The Tories are seen as capable; Labour is seen as nice.  This isn’t really anything new, though.  For a long time now, the Conservatives have been seen as the party of technocratic competence, though perhaps one with a cold heart.  Indeed, as Theresa May once noted, the Tories have long suffered from the perception of being the ‘Nasty Party’.  Labour, on the other hand, has traditionally been seen as a more compassionate, though less competent, party.  Lord Ashcroft’s polling bears out this received wisdom:  Labour chalks up leads of 10 points and 12 points among the ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity for all’ categories, respectively.  The Conservatives’ biggest leads on Labour are in more operational attributes.  For example, the party has a large 29-point lead when people were asked which party they thought would be more ‘willing to take tough decisions for the long term’.  The Tories also have a 19-point lead in the ‘competent and capable’ category.  Of the 11 attributes featured in the poll, the Tories beat Labour in 5, and Labour beat the Tories in 7.

Attribute

Conservative

Labour

On the side of people like me

28%

32%

Wants to help ordinary people get on in life

27%

44%

Willing to take tough decisions for the long term

50%

21%

Shares my values

29%

30%

Competent and capable

41%

22%

Will do what they say

27%

20%

Clear about what they stand for

34%

23%

Represents the whole country, not just some types of people

24%

27%

Its heart is in the right place

23%

33%

Stands for fairness

23%

33%

Stands for opportunity for all

25%

37%

None of these

37%

41%

2.       Theresa May’s lead over Jeremy Corbyn is vast.  Earlier in the week, we published the latest in our May vs Corbyn series, which caused quite a stir on Twitter.  In it, we pointed to the massive lead Theresa May has in the country against her opposite number Jeremy Corbyn.  Lord Ashcroft’s poll tells us largely the same thing.  Among the totality of voters polled, 67% said they think May makes the best Prime Minister, with only 25% saying Jeremy Corbyn would be the best at the job.  Thus, Theresa May outstrips the Labour leader by 42 points.  That lead increased among people who voted to Leave, 76% of whom think she makes the best Prime Minister.  As usual, the Conservative leader’s lead increases as voters get older: 53% of 18-24 year-olds think May makes the best Prime Minister (compared with 40% for Corbyn), while in the 65+ age group, 82% prefer Theresa May.  Perhaps the most surprising data point, however, is the fact that the Labour leader has only a 7-point lead among 2015 Labour voters.  Of those who voted for Labour at the last general election, only 49% think Jeremy Corbyn would make the best Prime Minister, compared with 42% for Theresa May.  The tables are below:

Category

Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn

Result

Total

67%

25%

May: +42

Male

67%

25%

May: +42

Female

67%

25%

May: +42

Voted Leave

76%

17%

May: +59

Voted Remain

58%

34%

May: +24

18-24

53%

40%

May: +13

25-34

57%

34%

May: +23

35-44

62%

27%

May: +35

45-54

67%

24%

May: +43

55-64

72%

21%

May: +51

65+

82%

11%

May: +71

CON 2015

94%

4%

May: +90

LAB 2015

42%

49%

Corbyn: +7

LIB DEM 2015

62%

16%

May: +46

UKIP 2015

77%

10%

May: +67

3.       May & Hammond are seen as a much better team than Corbyn & McDonnell.  Painting a similar picture to the contest between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, when the Prime Minister and Chancellor are matched up with the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Chancellor, the first pair wins with a comfortable lead.  Overall, 72% of voters think May and Hammond make the best team to manage the economy, while only 28% think Corbyn and McDonnell do.  This gives the incumbents a very large 44-point lead.  Indeed, even among Labour 2015 voters, 46% trust May and Hammond most, with 54% trusting Corbyn and McDonnell most.

Category

May & Hammond

Corbyn & McDonnell

Result

Total

72%

28%

M&H: +44

Male

72%

28%

M&H: +44

Female

72%

28%

M&H: +44

Voted Leave

81%

19%

M&H: +62

Voted Remain

63%

37%

M&H: +26

CON 2015

96%

4%

M&H: +92

LAB 2015

46%

54%

C&McD: +8

LIB DEM 2015

76%

24%

M&H: +52

UKIP 2015

87%

13%

M&H: +74

4.       Of the most important issues voters think face Britain, Brexit is number one.  It seems very likely now that Theresa May’s agenda for government will be dominated by the negotiation of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union: 64% of voters – including 59% of Remain supporters in the referendum – think that Brexit is the most important issue facing Britain.  The next-most important issue is the economy and jobs, followed by the NHS and immigration. 

5.       Of those 10 top issues, the Tories are seen as better on 6.  The Conservatives beat Labour in the issues of Brexit; ‘the economy and jobs’; immigration (though it ought to be noted that UKIP beats both parties, polling at 36% on immigration); ‘cutting the deficit and debt’; ‘reforming welfare to cut benefit dependency’; and ‘dealing with crime’.  Labour, meanwhile, beat the Tories only on two issues: ‘improving the NHS’ (with a strong 13-point lead) and ‘protecting the environment’ (with a very small 1-point lead).

6.       Jeremy Corbyn is seen as being ‘out of his depth’, ‘weak’ and ‘out of touch’.  Voters were given a long list of attributes, and asked to assign certain attributes to each politician included in the poll.  This exercise did not bode well for Mr. Corbyn.  33% said he is out of his depth; 27% said he is weak; 23% said he is principled; and 22% said he is out of touch.

7.       Theresa May is seen as being ‘determined’, ‘competent’, and ‘up to the job’.  When asked which words and phrases they associated with the Prime Minister, respondents were overwhelmingly positive.  54% said she is determined; 34% said she is competent; 23% said she is up to the job; with 16% saying she is ruthless.  It must, however, be noted that Theresa May is still experiencing a honeymoon with the electorate.  As Parliament gets back into action and Brexit negotiations start taking place, expect to see a tarnishing of the newly-minted Prime Minister’s sheen.

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