Conservatives pull ahead of Labour: a blip or a turning tide?

A new YouGov poll puts Theresa May’s party four points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn's.

The latest YouGov/Times poll puts the Conservatives on 43% of the vote, four points ahead of Labour’s 39%. The poll also places the Liberal Democrats on 8%, the Greens on 3%, UKIP on 3% and the others on 4%.

This is only the second YouGov poll since last June’s election to put the Conservatives ahead, and it is the first to put them ahead of Labour by more than one percentage point. The previous poll put the pair each on 42% while all other YouGov polls have given Labour a lead.

Is this a blip or a sign of change to come?

The honest answer is that at this stage we do not know. Polls can be accurate, and while recent events show that they can be subject to major change during an election campaign, in a non-election season the important thing is to watch for the trends. After June’s election, there was a big boost for Labour, with one YouGov poll putting them 8 percentage points ahead, but since then that has died down, stabilising with statistical dead heats between the two main parties.

The latest poll can be spun as progress for the Tories, but with Brexit only going to get messier and both parties still with the same leader, this is a likely outlier. However, the poll does put Theresa May eight points clear of Jeremy Corbyn.

However, as the country enters campaign season in April ahead of May’s local elections, then will be the time to watch the polls. Before last June’s election, the Conservatives were confounding expectations by being in government and making significant progress in council votes and by-elections. This time, the rules have reverted to the “normal” state of affairs and Labour looks set to make some major gains.

If that is the case, expect Labour to get a polling bump, one which the party could capitalise on as the government enter the final stages of the Brexit negotiations.

The next year or so provides a golden opportunity for Labour.

The full results of the poll can be viewed here.