Decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity

A new poll suggests that Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is on track to win fewer than 100 seats in the next election, with Labour likely to score a landslide victory. These things feed a sense of uncontrolled Tory ferment, with Rishi Sunak a hapless observer rather than any effective participant. Based on different polls, the decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity means “the end” for Rishi Sunak as a resident of NO 10 Downing Street.

What does the survey show?

New MRP figures released recently from the YouGov project that, if the country were voting in a general election in 2024 April, Labour would win 403 seats nationwide. Crossing the 400-seat line is a significant milestone for Keir Starmer’s party in what is our second MRP projection this year. According to the model, their Conservative rivals would win just 155 seats, down from 169 in the January projection. This suggests that Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives’ electoral situation is getting worse rather than better as the election approaches. The decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity in the public eye is evident.

Starmer as a PM?

The latest results push Keir Starmer closer toward repeating a Blair-level result for Labour, a full 27 years since Labour’s longest-serving prime minister first took office. Blair won 418 out of the available 659 House of Commons seats in that election. By contrast, Rishi Sunak is now heading for a worse result than John Major’s 1997 total of 165 seats.

The Conservatives face a challenging period ahead. The electoral coalition that won them victory at the last election may prove detrimental in 2024. At the upcoming election, it seems unlikely that the 2019 coalition will share the same policy priorities or vote for the same party.

Without the Brexit glue, support for the Conservative Party is coming unstuck

In 2019, the Conservatives had 365 seats, Labour 203, the SNP 48, the Lib Dems 11 and Plaid four. The findings come after Labour sources said the party’s overall financial position remained strong despite declining membership subscriptions because donations were healthy. Unions were expected to give very substantial backing to the election effort.

Labour has suffered more than a 23,000 fall in membership over the past two months after controversies over its policy on Gaza and its U-turn on green investment, according to figures released to its National Executive Committee (NEC). The party’s general secretary, David Evans, revealed that membership, which had stood at 390,000 in January, had plummeted to 366,604 at the latest count, with more than 11,700 of these being in arrears. Labour membership reached a peak at the end of 2019 when it hit more than 532,000.

However, the decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity is evident, as indicated by the party’s membership numbers.

Most young Britons live outside of insular, socially liberal bubbles

 Polls consistently show that young people favour less immigration, not more, even if they also recognise the benefits that high-skilled immigration can bring. The latest figures from YouGov show that 43 per cent of 18-24s believe that immigration has been too high over the last ten years; just 9 per cent think it has been too low. Amongst those aged 25-49, that gulf is even more significant, with 55 per cent saying too high and 6 per cent saying too low.

The extent to which young people tend to vote more for leftwing parties and older people for conservatives is often overstated. For all the talk of Donald Trump’s toxicity to America’s diverse youth, almost 40 per cent of 20-something US voters backed him in 2020, and the same share plan to do so this November. More than thirty per cent of young adults voted for the right wing in the most recent elections in France, Germany and Spain. There is generally an age gradient, to be sure, but its steepness is often exaggerated.

 Generational gaps have become even wider

Recent Resolution Foundation analysis revealed that the long-running housing boom, aided by quantitative easing and rock-bottom interest rates, has indicated that the baby boomer generation now possesses more than fifty per cent of the UK’s wealth, against 8% for millennials. This is while just 10% of family units headed by a baby boomer were living in the private rented sector at the age of 30, for millennials of the same age, it was 40%.

This economic decoupling from Conservatism is matched with a growing misalignment of values, brought into sharp relief by Brexit. A survey carried out by Focaldata for the Financial Times shows that the cultural and economic beliefs held by young Britons and by Conservative voters are almost opposed. The share of 18-34s in Britain who say they “strongly dislike” the Tory party was stable at around 20 per cent before the EU referendum but has doubled in the years since.

How has Brexit changed the views?

In addition to the defeat of liberalising planning regulations and ensuring more housing is built, Willetts points to policies such as repeated cuts to working-age benefits, in contrast to the generous guardian of state pensions. Perhaps nowhere has that been more valid in recent years than Brexit. Two-thirds of millennials voted for staying in the EU, compared with just a third of boomers, but they have seen themselves hit just as hard, if not harder, by its economic impact—at a time when the Tories have been proudly flying the banner for withdrawal. Amid the housing crisis, post-Brexit drag, and hardline migration rhetoric, most 25-—to 40-year-olds think the party deserves to fail the upcoming election.

Along with its politicians, the decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity is evident.

Approximately half of respondents believe that politicians across all parties today are generally less honest (54%), more corrupt (48%), and less likely to work for the country’s best interests (53%) or improve matters for people (52%) compared to those in the past. Additionally, around a third perceive little change between today’s and former politicians across these metrics, while 5% or less feel that things have improved.

Those with a positive view of current British politics tend to perceive no difference between today’s politicians and those of the past (50-63% across each measure). Conversely, the majority of individuals with a negative perception of politics believe that today’s politicians are worse (59-65%). Consequently, the decline in the Conservative Party’s popularity extends beyond Tories, implicating all individuals involved in the current political landscape.

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