June’s snap election changed everything. And more.
According to UK Polling Report, the first poll of 2017 (by YouGov for the Times, 4th January) put the Tories on 39%, well ahead of Labour who were placed on just 24%. In February and March, the Conservatives regularly polled in the 40s while Labour struggled along in the mid-20s.
When Theresa May called the snap election on the 18th April, one subsequent poll on the 20th by ComRes/Sunday Mirror put the Tories on 50%, dwarfing Labour’s low score of 25%.
The Tories looked set to strengthen their majority and give Theresa May the mandate she desired to secure a good Brexit deal.
One week later, the Independent reported that an Ipsos MORI poll indicated that May was more popular than Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair. That prospect seems laughable now.
The country then entered campaign mode, and Labour support slowly climbed with a strong manifesto and leadership from Jeremy Corbyn in opposition to the Conservatives’ U-turns and May’s lack of appearance at TV debates.
Even then, the final polls ahead of the election put the gap between the two main parties anywhere between one and thirteen percentage points.
In the end, Labour won over 40% of the vote just behind the Conservatives while UKIP collapsed and the Liberal Democrats stagnated.
In the two years since the last election, there has been a major shift in public opinion, with most polls since the vote putting Labour ahead of the Tories.
The question is, will opinion continue to shift in Labour’s direction in 2018 or will this return to two-party politics be the briefest of blips.