Storm clouds have gathered in this General Election campaign. Rarely can there have been a more tumultuous and stunning sequence of events during a week of General Election campaigning,
The delivery of a hugely populist Labour manifesto with giveaways for all compared to a policy-light document hitting core Tory voting pensioners in their pockets hardly seems like a fair contest. The fact that the Tories had to quickly U-turn on social care then heaped on the impression of unreliability rather than Presidential-style strength. It might not have done though actually; more people (42%) respect the fact she’s capable of changing her mind and correcting her mistakes than think she can’t deliver strong and stable government (30%).
But some polls have moved as a result. That said, maybe we should just pump the breaks a little on this Tory collapse narrative. Our poll in today’s Sun on Sunday gives the Tories exactly the same pretty monstrous 14-point lead they had in our poll at the start of last week. If right, that’s a Tory majority in the House of Commons of 126 seats (they currently sit on a majority of only 16 seats). So the Tories are not shipwrecked after the storm, they’ve just had a bad week, and the storm clouds always move on elsewhere.
Labour have recovered somewhat it’s true, and at 32% in this poll it implies a better performance from Jeremey Corbyn than Ed Miliband managed two years ago.
But nearly all the fundamentals still point to a strong Tory result. Who would run the economy better? Duh. Hammond and May over Corbyn and McDonnell twice over.
Who would make the best Prime Minister? Despite a bad look this week it’s still hands-down Theresa May, 48% saying so compared to Corbyn’s 27%.
What about trust? Well, what have the Romans ever done for us? On defence, the nuclear button, terrorism, the nation’s finances, avoiding a recession, immigration, Brexit negotiations and helping with household finances it’s Prime Minister May over Prime Minister Corbyn every time. He does get a look in on the pretty important future of pensioners, the NHS and schools though.
And for dessert, what words do the public associate with each leader? For May, top of the list are: strong, intelligent and convincing. For Corbyn, he’s seen to understand people, and intelligence is in there but only in conjunction with being out of touch, weak, dangerous and irresponsible. Probably not the kind of endorsement he’s looking for.
Polls will go up and down, but despite the apparent improvement in Labour’s position, they are still in second place by a country mile. This leaves the question of what happens next for Labour? With some mutterings about the need for a new Centre-Left party we tested the idea among recent Labour voters. Most of them will stick it out with Labour even with Captain Corbyn still at the helm, or some other handpicked member of the hard Left.
After Manchester, the resilience and magnificence of the British public has been on full display. Most won’t be cowed in the face of the terror threat. Six in ten don’t fear for their personal safety now any more than they did last week, although 37% (mostly younger members of society) might think twice. The reintroduction of the death penalty might help – a full 65% would approve of it in the case of terrorist acts and for the murder of children, while 58% think it should apply to the murder of on-duty police officers. This has hardly moved from when we last asked it, back in November 2005.
ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,044 adults aged 18+ online, on 24-26th May 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.