Tory Rural Base Goes Cold, Labour Closing Gap in Rural Strongholds

It seems the Tories must now accept that even the PM’s internationally recognised performance during the Ukraine crisis is not enough to restore the party’s post-Partygate poll plunge. Any improvement – at one point drawing level with Labour – over the past month has once again been erased by the economic outlook, Rishi’s Spring Statement flop and the renewed Partygate headlines amid the first fines being issued. Labour’s increasingly consistent national lead at the moment makes the local elections look dire for CCHQ. Recent polling for the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) reveals that the Conservatives and Labour are now almost neck and neck in the Tories’ traditional rural heartlands. The polling has them just about leading…

This is partly because the Tories’ usual base, as well as recent swing voters, have given up on the party for the time being. The number one issue in the countryside is affordable housing (69%), followed by better digital connections (35%) – faster broadband and better mobile signals. The majority of those polled said the likelihood of young people obtaining local employment had decreased in the last 5 years and a whopping 79% thought lack of affordable housing was driving young people out of the countryside. So much for country folk being opposed to housing development… 

Jonathan Roberts at the Country Land and Business Association tells Guido: 

“This isn’t about asking for more money – if anything it’s about government getting out of the way a little.  We have so many disused old farm buildings that could easily be converted into modern work space to support local businesses – but getting planning permission can take years.  Many villages could do with five or ten new houses to support the local economy and give local families an affordable home, but applications for small developments are usually dismissed out of hand. Your rural staycation holiday is charged at a VAT rate of 20%, almost twice what many holiday destinations abroad charge. The list is almost endless.

“Government should show a little ambition and stop treating the countryside as a museum.  The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average. Closing that gap adds £43 billion to the economy, creating jobs and opportunity in parts of the country that are too often left behind.”

If the Tories lose the rural vote they will lose the country. To summarise: the Tories are in deep trouble and have just two years – potentially less – to turn this around…

Data [PDF]: CLA_Survation_Polling_April_2022.

mdi-timer 5 April 2022 @ 13:06 5 Apr 2022 @ 13:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Mystery of Fake Polls Creating Fake News in Sunday Times

This weekend’s papers were full of briefing and counter-briefing by friends and foes of Boris. MPs, whatever they may claim, are keen students of polling, particularly if they hold a marginal seat. This sensitive topic was the subject of a Sunday Times article, the reporters having clearly been briefed that Rishi Sunak supposedly has the best chance of reaching voters in the “Red Wall” seats that flipped to the Tories in 2019, and also outstrips his closest rivals in the South Eastern “Blue Wall” Tory heartlands. This seems counter-intuitive, and the spin became even more incredible when the story went on to claim that an unpublished private poll from “Focal Data” for the Hanover Communications public affairs firm had found that Sunak would beat Starmer, whereas Boris would cause an historic record-breaking swing to Labour and put the opposition party in government. The article claimed that:

“The poll echoes a Survation survey for the Labour Party, shared with MPs last week, which found that only by keeping Johnson in place could Starmer win the next election. If the Tories swapped Johnson for Sunak or Liz Truss, Starmer would lose.”

Only one problem with that claim: Survation say there is no such poll. The CEO of Survation Damian Lyons-Lowe tells Guido:

Survation have not conducted “hypothetical leader” private polling for the Labour Party as reported in The Sunday Times… We also don’t view simple “leader name switching voting intention” to be of much predictive value.

The mystery of these unpublished polls gets murkier. The CEO of Focaldata, Justin Ibbett, also denied having conducted such a poll, and points out “if we were briefing it we’d ensure they got our name right, Focaldata is one word.”  Who benefits from briefing the Sunday paper most closely read by Tory MPs with fake polls that falsely inflate the electoral prospects of Rishi Sunak?

UPDATE: Justin Ibbett, CEO of Focaldata, who tweeted on Sunday that he had not conducted a poll regarding a “hypothetical leader” now says his firm did:

Survation have re-confirmed that they have not conducted any such poll. We have changed the headline accordingly. Guido has asked for a copy of the Focaldata’s polling data tables which, under British Polling Council rules, have to be supplied within 2 working days of a poll being leaked or published. 

mdi-timer 7 February 2022 @ 15:41 7 Feb 2022 @ 15:41 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Survation Has Labour Catching Tories

Survation have another poll detecting a bounce for Starmer. It is not their first so not likely to be an error, Redfield & Wilton have the Tories on 40% and Labour on 36% too, YouGov had the Tories dropping 6 points to 38% with Labour on 34% last. Silly season or the start of something else? Downing Street has had a run of mis-steps of late…

mdi-timer 26 July 2021 @ 16:58 26 Jul 2021 @ 16:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Public Prefer Boris to Starmer in Tackling Pandemic

Yet more bad news for Sir Keir, as polling from Redfield and Wilton reveals that 43% of the country thinks Boris Johnson is the better leader for tackling the coronavirus pandemic, compared to Starmer’s 28%. Another disastrous showing for Captain Hindsight, who last week admitted Labour had “a long way to go” before the 2024 election…

The trouble doesn’t stop there: the same research also showed that most Britons think Johnson is a stronger leader, is more capable of building a strong economy, has the better foreign policy strategy, and is more likely to bring British people together. It wasn’t all uneasy reading for Sir Keir, though, as the public does acknowledge that the Labour leader appears to be in better physical shape. Every cloud…

UPDATEThe latest polling from Survation doesn’t look good either…

mdi-timer 12 February 2021 @ 15:56 12 Feb 2021 @ 15:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Survation Has Tories Ahead for Christmas mdi-timer 23 December 2020 @ 18:07 23 Dec 2020 @ 18:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments Starmer Still Trails Boris as Public’s Preferred PM, Tories Still Preferred Party

For those of you waiting for the latest Survation, Tories will be pleased in the circumstances to add another 3 points to their lead, giving them an 8 point margin over Labour. Boris will be pleased to see he has 7 point margin over Starmer in the “Who Would Make the Best Prime Minister” stakes, less pleased that his public approval rating is neutral whereas Starmer’s is a healthy plus 9. The public is warming to Starmer slightly, still not keen on his party though. Starmer’s left-wing enemies are still demanding to know when the 20-point lead Tony Blair forecast will appear…

mdi-timer 4 August 2020 @ 17:52 4 Aug 2020 @ 17:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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