Conservatives hit by five-point poll slump as Labour takes first lead in 2021

Tories have ‘sacrificed’ reputation as low tax party, YouGov survey suggests

Adam Forrest
Friday 10 September 2021 10:15
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Boris Johnson 'accepts' controversial social care reforms break manifesto pledge

Labour has taken a surprise poll lead after support for the Conservatives slumped to its lowest level since the general election on the back of Boris Johnson’s tax rise.

Backing for the Tory Party fell five points to 33 per cent while Labour share increased by one point to 35 per cent, according to the latest YouGov survey.

It puts Sir Keir Starmer’s party ahead for the first time since January. It marks a remarkable turnaround for Labour over the summer, having been 18 points behind the Tories in a YouGov survey in May.

The findings suggest the government’s plans to invest in NHS and social care with a National Insurance hike has proved unpopular with voters.

YouGov’s Anthony Wells said: “We should be cautious of leaping to too many conclusions from a single poll, but it looks as if the government may have sacrificed their reputation for low taxes amongst Tory voters without actually getting much credit for helping the NHS.”

Six in ten voters said they did not think Mr Johnson or the Tories care about keeping taxes low compared with only two in ten who thought he and his party do care about low taxes, according to the YouGov poll for The Times.

The prime minister this week claimed that the Tories are now “the party of the NHS”, but the poll suggests voters do not share his view.

Less than one third of voters think Mr Johnson and the Tories care about improving the NHS, compared with more than half of voters who do not think they care about the health service.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden responded to the YouGov poll by saying he thinks the electorate could “reward” the government for its plan to hike National Insurance to pay for social care.

“In the end, the electorate reward governments who are willing to take difficult decisions in order to protect the long-term national interest, and that is what that decision is all about,” he told Sky News.

Sir Keir has received flak for failing to set out an alternative plan for social care reform. Labour mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham warned that the party has no time to waste in setting out its own proposal to fund the ailing sector.

“My advice to my party would be not to leave it too long before presenting one. Criticism of the Tory plan alone won’t cut through unless we say what we would do,” Mr Burnham wrote in the Evening Standard.

Sir Keir told Sky News on Thursday he was still looking at the various options for “a wealth tax in the broadest sense of the word”, but gave little detail as to how it would work.

While Labour gained only one point in the latest poll, the party has successfully cut down the Tory poll lead over the summer.

The latest results mark a resurgence since May, when YouGov gave the Tories an 18-point lead over the opposition and Sir Keir was accused of being “invisible” by one of his own MPs.

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