Labour falls to new poll low 18 points behind the Tories

Labour MP accuses Keir Starmer of being ‘invisible’ and says nobody knows what party stands for

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Saturday 22 May 2021 20:05 BST
<p>The new poll, conducted by YouGov, had Starmer’s party on 28 per cent</p>

The new poll, conducted by YouGov, had Starmer’s party on 28 per cent

Labour hit a new poll low this weekend as the Tories opened up an 18-point lead over Keir Starmer's party.

The opposition leader was publicly accused by one of his MPs of lacking substance and being “invisible” as Labour continued to reel from a series of disappointing elections.

Amid growing discontent in the parliamentary Labour Party, Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck in the northeast, said he questioned “who on earth is running the Labour Party at this moment in time”.

"You've got to question: is it Keir? Is it the people in his offices at LOTO? Is it Mandelson? Is it Blair?" he said in an interview with The Owen Jones Show – referring to New Labour-era figures being brought in to advise the leader.

Sir Keir shook up his top team in the wake of the Hartlepool by-election defeat this month, promoting figures associated with Labour's moderate wing.

But the new front bench team has so far failed to break the narrative that the party does not have distinctive policies or have fixed principles.

Mr Lavery said activists at a recent by-election in Hartlepool were “were frightened to knock on doors because they weren't sure what we actually stood for anymore”, an approach he said would “never, ever” lead to power.

“A lot of people feel really let down and as what's happened in the last few weeks, for example, people are saying what on earth do we stand for, what does Keir stand for?” the MP continued, advising a shift back to the left as promised during the leadership election last year.

"Where is he? He's invisible, where is the Labour Party, who are the Labour Party, who's making the decisions, what are the policies anymore?"

The new poll, conducted by YouGov and released on Saturday, had Labour on just 28 per cent – down four points on Jeremy Corbyn's disastrous 2019 general election result, and down 12 points on his 2017 result.

The poll also puts Sir Keir's party below the 29 per cent Labour managed to win when it was booted out of office at the close of the New Labour era in 2010, and the 30 per cent won when Ed Miliband was leader.

The survey has the biggest Tory lead and lowest Labour score since April last year when Sir Keir took over as Labour leader and appeared to be an electoral asset to his party.

The Conservatives are polling at 46 per cent, their best rating this year and the highest since May last year, when they scored as high as 55 per cent in some surveys.

Labour pulled broadly level with the Tories in the second half of 2019, but the effect had faded by the middle of January as the UK stewed in its third lockdown.

The party's numbers and Sir Keir own personal ratings have steadily slid this year, with the leader now scoring worse than his predecessor Mr Corbyn at the same point in their respective leaderships.

The YouGov poll had the Tories on 46 per cent, up one on the last poll a week and a half ago, Labour on 28 per cent down two, the Liberal Democrats on eight per cent up one, the Greens steady on eight per cent, and the SNP steady on five per cent. Reform UK, previously known as the Brexit Party, is polling at two per cent.

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