Corbyn needs to progress in these 4 areas to become PM

A new ICM/Guardian poll highlights the areas where Theresa May leads the Labour leader.

The latest Guardian/ICM poll, released 16th January, puts the two main parties neck-and-neck, with Labour on 41% and the Conservatives on 40%. It also places the Liberal Democrats on 7%, UKIP on 4% and the Greens on 3%.

In terms of headline voting intentions, very little has changed since June’s snap election.

The poll also asked respondents who – out of Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn – they thought could best handle different issues.

On the NHS, Jeremy Corbyn leads by 18 points. He also leads May on improving public services (13 points), making Britain a fairer country (12 points), protecting the interests of pensioners (12 points), protecting the environment (4 points) and education (3 points). All but one of these issues are traditional Labour issues, with protecting the interests of pensioners being the only exception.

This is interesting in itself as it shows how Labour’s commitment to the triple lock in the election and May’s dementia tax are still affecting ratings today.

Compared to before the election, Corbyn has made significant progress in these areas, however, there are four key issues in which he lags May.

On managing the economy, May leads Corbyn by 12 points. She also leads him on controlling immigration (15 points), on negotiating a good Brexit deal (16 points) and protecting people from threats at home and abroad (17 points).

To become PM, Corbyn will probably need to make progress on these four issues, either by getting ahead of May or closing the gap.

When it comes to protecting people home and abroad, the Conservatives’ link with defence and the armed forces probably ensures that this will not change any time soon, but Corbyn can probably make headway on the other three issues.

Highlighting that the Conservatives have not brought net migration down to the “tens of thousands” will weaken the Tories lead on this issue. The economy will always be a tricky one for the party, as the notion that Labour wreck the economy and the Tories go on to fix it is ingrained into many people’s minds, but highlighting that Labour's policies are fully costed in comparison to the Conservatives should allow them to make some progress on the issue.

Lastly, on Brexit, much will depend on how negotiations go, but if the Conservatives accept a bad deal, it could be game over, even if Labour’s plans are not necessarily better.