Inside Westminster

Labour is ahead in just one poll, but it could still change things

Keir Starmer’s first lead in an opinion poll for eight months will shift the assumption that he cannot win, writes John Rentoul

Saturday 11 September 2021 07:32
<p>Keir Starmer can afford a slight smile </p>

Keir Starmer can afford a slight smile

Boris Johnson is mortal after all. The wonder-working, Teflon-coated vote winner might actually be paying a price for thumbing his nose at true blue Conservatives who think Margaret Thatcher’s party is that of low taxes and personal responsibility.

It’s just one poll but today’s YouGov survey putting the Tories behind Labour for the first time since January will shift the mood, even if it is followed by a string of small Tory leads. It is pointless to speculate, of course, but you cannot test a hypothesis unless you have a handful of them, so let us speculate.

It may be that the tax rise for the NHS and social care has offended part of the core Tory base. The rise in support for the Reform Party to 5 per cent (it is usually 2-3 per cent) may be a measure of that. You have to be quite well informed about politics to know who the Reform Party are – it’s the latest Farage-less guise of the Brexit Party – and that it opposes tax rises. It was also conspicuously anti-lockdown, so it may also be that it is picking up support from Tory voters who are as horrified as Nadhim Zahawi says he is by the idea of vaccine passports.

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