5 issues Labour needs to improve on to win the next election

Jeremy Corbyn Smile

The Conservatives are weak, and Labour has momentum, but Jeremy Corbyn’s party is a long way from power.

The latest YouGov/Times poll (4th – 5th December) puts Labour on 41%, just one point ahead of the Conservatives. Way behind the two big beasts, the poll places Liberal Democrat support on 7%, and puts UKIP and the Greens on 3% and 2% respectively.

Most polls since the election suggest that very little has changed, indicating that the views formed in the campaign have solidified. Considering that the two main party leaders remain in place, this is a likely contributory explanation.

The poll also reaffirms that Labour still has a mountain to climb. YouGov's latest findings put them in a statistical dead heat with an embattled Conservative Party, and highlights areas in which the Labour party is behind and therefore needs to make progress.

1. Leadership

Deallignment and the 24 hours news-cycle, as well as the presidentialisation of British politics, all make leadership a crucial determinant of voting behaviour. Corbyn’s fortunes may have reversed during the pre-election campaign, but recent polls suggest that he is still less popular than Theresa May when it comes to who voters think would make the best prime minister. The new YouGov poll suggests that 34% of the public think May would make the best PM – three points ahead of Labour leaders Jeremy Corbyn.

In a direct head-to-head, Corbyn falls short of beating May.

Theresa May PM May's plan to rip up human rights law

2. The Economy

Economic performance has long been linked to electoral success – just look at the 2010 election following the crash. With rising inflation and constantly missed deficit reduction targets, the Conservatives’ economic credentials have suffered serious blows in recent years, but Labour is struggling to benefit from this. On who voters think would best manage the economy in general, 32% said May’s party - ten whole points ahead of Labour who are placed on just 22%. To add insult to injury, just 63% of the party’s own voters picked Corbyn’s party.

John McDonnell

3. Brexit

On the big issue of our time, Labour has failed to show that it can deliver. Just 16% of poll respondents – down from 18% - picked Labour on this issue. They lag seven points behind the Tories (on 25%), suggesting that even as the Conservatives struggle to deliver a deal to balance its precarious electoral coalition, May’s party still leads Corbyn’s.

Emmanuel Macron European Council meeting, 22-23 June 2017

4. Law and order

This issue is natural Conservative Party territory, but if Labour want to form a government, they will need to at least make some progress in this area – particularly amongst their own voters. Just 21% of all respondents picked Labour for this issue, significantly behind the Conservatives on 32%.

Emily Thornberry

5. Asylum and immigration

Again, this is probably not natural territory for Labour, reiterated by the striking finding that 9% of Labour voters think UKIP would handle this issue best. Overall, 20% of respondents chose this option, just five points behind the Conservatives.

Nigel Farage Debate on Council meeting conclusions - with Brexit: MEPs agree on key conditions for approving UK withdrawal agreement - Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

The other issues

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. The party leads the Conservatives on the following issues:

  • The NHS (39% - 20%)
  • Education and Schools (35% - 23%)
  • Unemployment (30% - 27%)
  • Housing (34% - 20%)
  • The party is also one point behind the Conservatives on the issue of taxation (28% - 29%).

Analysis

The pre-election world was an entirely different one. Labour languished at less than 30% in the polls and Corbyn’s ratings were abysmal. The party has made considerable progress, but in order to win the next election – and secure a significant majority – they have a long way to go.

The full results of the YouGov/Times poll (4th – 5th December) can be accessed here.