Truss and Kwarteng’s mini-budget fails to reverse Tory fortunes in election polls


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Andrew Marr says some Tory MPs are planning to oust Liz Truss

As polling shows the British public is sceptical about the benefits of new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax-slashing mini-budget, the Conservative Party remains yet to close the gulf to Labour. Although the Tories have gained ground since Liz Truss took over as Prime Minister three weeks ago, the public still perceives the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, to be better suited for the role, according to recent polling.

In the first political polling results released since Mr Kwarteng unveiled The Growth Plan 2022 to Parliament, Labour were found to have a 12 point lead over the Conservatives.

According to a Savanta ComRes poll for LabourList, 45 percent of respondents intended to vote Labour at the next general election, with the Conservatives trailing on 33 percent. 

On Friday, Mr Kwarteng announced the biggest programme of tax cuts in 50 years, including reducing the basic rate of income tax to 19 percent, abolishing the top tax rate for the highest earners and scrapping April’s 1.25 percent National Insurance hike.

Conducted in the days prior to the mini-budget, a YouGov/Times voting intention poll had the Conservatives on 32 percent, with Labour just eight points ahead on 40 percent.

Liz Truss and the Growth Plan 2022

The contents of The Growth Plan 2022 have failed to boost the Conservative Party’s popularity (Image: GETTY)

Kwasi Kwarteng delivers the budget

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng delivered the mini-budget in a speech to Parliament on Friday (Image: GETTY)

Far from having boosted the Conservative Party’s standing in the eyes of the general public, the Opposition appears to have benefitted from generally unfavourable opinions of the new Government’s fiscal plans.

In YouGov polling conducted on the day, to the question of how people thought the changes announced by the Chancellor would impact them, 19 percent responded that they would make them a little or much better off, 28 percent thought they would make them a little or much worse off, while 34 percent expected no difference.

In another YouGov poll, 63 percent of respondents said the mini-budget would benefit wealthier people more, relative to only three percent who thought it would benefit the poorer more.

The £45 billion package also raised alarm bells in international markets, sending the value of the pound plummeting to an all-time low against the dollar. A further YouGov poll saw 52 percent of respondents say they thought the measures would be not very effective or not effective at all at growing the British economy.

READ MORE: Bank of England turned into ‘firefighters’ over pound collapse

In the final YouGov poll before Ms Truss was announced as the UK’s next Prime Minister – conducted between August 31 and September 1 – when asked if a general election were held tomorrow, 28 percent of respondents said they would vote Conservative, while 43 percent said they would vote Labour.

After the Tories fell ever-further behind their political rivals during the months the caretaker Prime Minister awaited the conclusion of a bitter Conservative leadership election, Ms Truss inherited a 15 point deficit in the polls upon taking office on September 6.

On September 8, the new Prime Minister revealed her plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis – widely perceived as the most pressing issue on the agenda – announcing a freeze on energy bills at £2,500-a-year for two years. 

Polling conducted between September 11 and 12 saw the Conservatives claw back four percent to become the party of choice for 32 percent of voters, with Labour falling one percent to 42 percent.

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Liz Truss at the UN

Prime Minister Liz Truss gave a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York last week (Image: GETTY)

According to polling by Politico on September 18, 29 percent of respondents approved of Ms Truss while 27 percent disapproved – a two percent net positive.

In contrast, on the day he left Downing Street, 65 percent of respondents disapproved of Boris Johnson, while 35 percent approved – a net negative of 30 percent.

Although she is clearly, as expected, more popular than her resigning predecessor, Ms Truss appears to have lacked the fabled bounce in approval ratings typically enjoyed by the party of a new leader.

Using multiple polling sources, electionmapsuk found the Conservative Party gained just 0.3 percent in the polls over the course of Ms Truss’s first two weeks, compared to a 5.6 percent bounce under Mr Johnson and a 6.7 percent uptick under Theresa May.

Ms Truss’s troubles are clear when comparisons are made with her main political rival Sir Keir Starmer, who is currently seeking to project himself as the country’s next leader at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

In the latest Ipsos Political Monitor, conducted between September 7 and 15, 34 percent said they agreed the Labour leader had what it takes to be a good Prime Minister, while 40 percent disagreed. For Ms Truss, 27 percent agreed while 42 percent disagreed.

However, the same polling showed that since June the Conservatives had gained 10 percentage points in terms of respondents who trust them more than Labour to grow the economy, now at 42 percent to 26 percent respectively. 

The Tories also had a six point lead when it comes to managing inflation, 34 percent trusting them most to do so relative to 28 percent saying the same about Labour.

Conversely, Labour had a considerable lead in terms of trust when it came to improving the NHS (22 point lead), reducing regional inequalities (23 point lead) and reducing the cost of living (15 point lead).

Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos UK, said of the findings: “With the Conservatives ahead on growing the economy and managing inflation and Labour ahead on the cost of living, NHS and levelling-up, we can see the contours of a potential future general election campaign in these numbers. 

“Meanwhile, whilst there is no obvious sign of a significant polling bounce for Liz Truss in the numbers here, they are an improvement on her predecessor’s final numbers. 

“The new Prime Minister will hope that recent events mean that her political honeymoon is delayed rather than denied; as we head into what is likely to be a challenging winter.”


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