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Earlier in the week, ICM released what they described as a potentially ‘rogue’ poll which put Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck for the first time since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
While the mainstream media commentariat were sniggering at the idea of Corbyn’s Labour actually drawing level, they were gazumped last night when YouGov’s first post budget poll showed Labour taking a slim lead over the Conservatives, acting as a huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. YouGov’s Anthony Wells said of the latest poll “People were understandably wary of reading too much into one poll (the ICM poll), but we now have two polls both showing Labour and the Conservatives neck-and-neck, suggesting something is genuinely afoot.”
Is it not obvious what is afoot? Whilst these two recent polls are the first time Labour have made any significant gains since Corbyn’s victory, the approval of government cuts has recently reached its lowest level for years and confidence in the Conservative’s ability to improve Britain’s economic outlook is only at 14%. This is a damning indictment of George Osborne, who is forcing through a cold-blooded budget which is not fit for purpose. 38% of the public think his latest budget was unfair, whilst 49% say the government is managing the economy badly.
This is not surprising in the slightest. A quick look at George Osborne’s track record indicates that it is one of failure and missed targets. Yanis Varoufakis was correct when he claimed Osborne is using austerity as a cover for class war. Half a million people with disabilities will lose over £1 billion in PIP payments whilst corporation tax will be cut to 17%. His beloved long term economic plan only consists of one thing: taking money away from the poorest in society whilst giving tax breaks to the wealthy at a cost of ballooning inequality.
But the public running out of patience with their villainous brand of economics is not the Conservatives’ only problem. Their enforcement of a dangerous contract on the junior doctors has left public support for their latest strike action at a staggering 65%, with 57% blaming Jeremy Hunt and the government for the dispute continuing this long. It is clear that the public resoundingly trust junior doctors whilst the government insist on playing political football with our NHS. However, the most amusing Conservative failure this year is that their spiteful internal battles over the EU referendum have left the public concluding they are more divided than Labour, which certainly takes some doing.
Whilst two polls can certainly indicate the beginning of a trend, we should be under no illusions. The battle of ideas has only just begun. This is why with the Conservatives in disarray and the likes of Dan Jarvis plotting to disrupt Corbyn’s tenure, now is the time to go on the offensive and not only solidify his position as leader until 2020 but exploit the shift in public mood and gain further ground on this callous government.
If these poll numbers stay similar or even improve, the onus is on both sides of the Labour Party to unite and kick the Tories while they are down. Corbyn needs to set out his stall for a fairer, more equal Britain whilst creating a narrative that Osborne and the government have failed the people of Britain with a budget that only caters for the wealthy. Labour’s latest slogan ‘Standing Up Not Standing By’ came into fruition today, with Corbyn claiming Osborne had “declared war” on disabled people and committing to force a vote in parliament on disability benefit cuts.
The portrayal of the Conservative Party lacking any moral compass as the ‘nasty party’ is a powerful message that can sway undecided voters, but only if the Parliamentary Labour Party finally unite around their leader and go on the offensive against this government.