EXCLUSIVE: Is a Rishi revival on the horizon? Tories could now avoid ‘bloodbath’ in next week’s local elections, top pollster predicts
- A ‘Rishi bounce’ could help the Conservatives in next week’s local elections
- Pollsters say the vote on May 4 will mostly be influenced by national issues
The Conservatives could avoid ‘a bloodbath’ at next week’s local elections because of a ‘Rishi bounce’, pollsters claimed today.
They said the vote on May 4 would mostly be influenced by national issues and the Prime Minister’s policy approach was starting to cut through with voters.
An uncomfortable night for the Tories is still predicted – and they look set to lose hundreds of seats overall.
But they could make gains in some areas, with the damage potentially being limited to losing fewer than 1,000. Some forecasters believe it could be under 500.
This would be a major turnaround because the Tories’ ratings following Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership would have meant the loss of up to 2,000 seats.
Pollsters say the local elections on May 4 will mostly be influenced by national issues and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s policy approach was starting to cut through with voters
Professor Sir John Curtice, the polling guru who correctly predicted that Theresa May would lose her majority in 2017, said: ‘I’m not expecting a Tory bloodbath. I do expect Labour to make gains’
There are growing doubts among voters about Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, whose inability to define a woman and perceived weakness over tackling Channel migrant boats have been raised as issues on the doorstep.
READ MORE: LABOUR’S ‘LOW BLOW’ ATTACK ADVERTS COULD BACKFIRE WITH VOTERS
Labour’s controversial attack ads have spectacularly backfired with voters, research suggests
The party is also expected to haemorrhage votes in the South East because of Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand the capital’s clean-air zone.
Hundreds of thousands more motorists driving across the Greater London border will be clobbered with a £12.50 daily charge.
Professor Sir John Curtice, the polling guru who correctly predicted that Theresa May would lose her majority in 2017, said: ‘I’m not expecting a Tory bloodbath. I do expect Labour to make gains.
‘But it may well be the case that both Labour and the Tories do better in terms of votes than they did four years ago. So we’re not talking about dramatic headline losses of councils.’
He said the biggest threat to the Tories could be the Liberal Democrats, who may steal votes from Tory supporters turned off by Boris Johnson and Miss Truss.
This could happen in Surrey, Hertfordshire, Warwickshire and Cheshire.
Sir John added: ‘This year’s elections are in shire districts. Something like 5,000 out of the 8,000 or so seats are in the district councils.
‘And in a lot of these places, the Labour party just does not register. We’re talking about real rural shire England, very small district councils, and if there is a challenger it’s the Liberal Democrats and not the Labour Party.
‘Another big question is: do we get tactical voting? Is the Conservative Party so unpopular that opposition voters are going to take whatever stick is available locally to beat them with?’
Predictions that the Tories would lose 1,000 seats appear to be ‘too high’, he said, amid a narrowing in the polls.
The party lost 1,330 seats the last time they were fought over in 2019 and when the Conservatives were around 26 per cent in the polls. This time the party is hovering around 30 per cent.
Polling expert and Tory peer Lord Robert Hayward said: ‘Tory campaigners and MPs are actually finding Rishi being mentioned positively by people on the doorstep, and that’s confirmed in the opinion polls and the few council by-elections that have been taking place in recent weeks.’
Polling shows some shrinkage in Labour’s predicted lead in next week’s local elections
Polling excpert and Tory peer Lord Robert Hayward said: ‘Ever since he’s been leader it’s been striking how many people give the answer ‘don’t know’ in opinion polls when it comes to Keir Starmer (pictured) and Labour policy’
He also agreed that the Liberal Democrats could prove to be the Tories’ biggest threat: ‘All the polling evidence shows that the people who were most turned off by Boris and then Liz Truss were those middle-class shire counties.
‘Some of those have come back [to the Tories], but the question is how much? It’s going to be difficult for the Tories fighting the two different battles.’
But he said Labour’s ratings lead was somewhat ‘superficial’, adding: ‘Not only is Labour already going down in the polls, but you can see that there isn’t a commitment to Labour under Keir Starmer.
‘Ever since he’s been leader it’s been striking how many people give the answer ‘don’t know’ in opinion polls when it comes to Keir Starmer and Labour policy.
‘But previously, where people were essentially agnostic towards Keir, now they’re actually using negative words about him, whether it’s women and if they have penises or flip-flopping, they are now moving toward more negative perceptions of Keir Starmer.
READ MORE: SUNAK PLANS TO BOOST ECONOMY WITH PUPILS STUDYING MATHS UNTIL AGE 18
‘The Tories will lose councils, they’ll lose a substantial number of seats, but I think the indications are that it’s going to be in the range which will be deemed to be acceptable for a governing party in the circumstances.
‘The losses are being ameliorated because of the Rishi bounce.’
The flurry of achievements by the PM since entering Downing Street just over six months ago include a new post-Brexit deal on trading arrangements for Northern Ireland, a fresh UK-France pact for tackling small boat Channel crossings and stabilising the economy.
Lord Hayward said he believed the Tories could limit the losses to 800 seats overall, down from the potential bloodbath of ‘up to 2,000’ following Ms Truss’s premiership. Doing so would be considered a ‘major success’, he said.
Other forecasters, such as Electoral Calculus, believe the Tories could lose as few as 258 seats, with Labour gaining just 408 and the Liberal Democrats losing 39.
Election experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher have predicted that the Tories could lose 1,000 seats and Labour gain 700. However, this forecast was made when the Conservatives were slightly lower in the polls.
Research by the non-profit organisation More in Common found that the cost of living crisis was the most important issue for voters.
This was followed by ‘supporting the NHS’, ‘climate change and the environment’, ‘asylum seekers crossing the Channel’ and ‘the war in Ukraine’.
A total of 230 local authorities in England are holding elections on May 4, with 8,057 seats being fought over.
The Conservatives are defending 3,365 seats, Labour 2,131, Lib Dem 1,223, Green 239, independents 817 and other parties 282.
Polls are also taking place to choose mayors in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough.
The seats being contested this year were last up for election in 2019, when the UK was still in the European Union, the prime minister was Theresa May and Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn.
Since then, the UK has had three further prime ministers – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Mr Sunak.
For the latter, next week’s contests will be his first big electoral test.
Source: Read Full Article