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Rishi Sunak is celebrating a sharp fall in inflation to 6.8%, bolstering his pledge to halve the rate by the end of the year.
It is one of five defining targets on which the prime minister has urged voters to judge him come the next election. None are guaranteed to be met.
Labour continues to outperform the Conservatives in the polls, but it is by no means a sealed deal.
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The latest polls and odds
The latest voting intention survey from Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday, published at the weekend, put Labour 17 points ahead of the Tories. Of 1,504 voters, 29% would back the current government, while 46% would vote for Keir Starmer’s opposition party. The Liberal Democrats trail behind on 12%
Politico’s poll of polls shows the vote share has remained fairly consistent since the start of 2023.
The number of British voters who think Labour will win with a large majority has fallen from 24% in October 2022, when Liz Truss resigned as PM, to 10% on 31 July, according to YouGov. About a quarter of voters think the party will win with a small majority, while 30% think there will be a hung parliament.
The latest modelling from The New Statesman’s Britain Predicts system predicts a Labour majority of 180 seats, which would see the Tories losing 212 constituencies, the SNP losing 18 and the Lib Dems picking up 17.
The bookmakers favour Labour too. William Hill is offering 1/7 on Labour securing the most seats, while a Conservative majority is priced at 9/2.
The Tories suffered an “election bloodbath” in May, said The Guardian, and were unable to pause for breath before three by-elections in July. The government held on to just one seat out of three, with the Lib Dems winning Somerton and Frome and Labour taking Selby and Ainsty.
Labour’s victory in Selby and Ainsty was “off the scale big”, said the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason, but their loss in Boris Johnson’s old constituency of Uxbridge was disappointing for the party’s leadership.
The “takeaway” was that the Conservatives are “still in very substantial electoral trouble”, veteran pollster Sir John Curtice told Times Radio. However, the loss in Uxbridge for Labour also “raised some questions about the strategy Starmer is pursuing”.
While he is a “politician of grossly unsung excellence”, his chances of securing a win in the next general election are “almost to the same degree, overrated”, said Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. The reason is due to “historical inference” which only sees Labour win when the country is “feeling robust”, he added. As the UK continues to grapple with a cost-of-living crisis, this is currently far from the case.
The August headlines have been occupied by small boats. As the Conservatives “risk total wipeout”, the party must “at least give its natural voters a reason not to stay at home come polling day”, said the London Evening Standard’s Jack Kessler. The “media blitz” is designed to appeal to core Tory voters, 43% of whom say immigration is the most important issue facing the country.
The economy is also key. Sunak is preparing a “reset” in autumn “as he seeks to shift the Tories into election mode with a more positive vision for the future”, said The Times. He is facing mounting calls to lower taxes, but if inflation fails to halve “reducing Labour’s lead in the polls will be even more challenging”.
Both party leaders have the NHS on their agenda. Sunak has promised to cut waiting lists, while Starmer wants to “fix” the healthcare system.
“The hope in Downing Street,” said Rob Powell at Sky News, “is that by the time of the next election, progress on the economy, healthcare and migration will give ministers a firmer footing to launch attacks from.”
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