Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll of 3,000 eligible voters in Great Britain finds the Conservative Party leading the Labour Party by 2%. This poll is the first Conservative lead in three weeks and follows two consecutive polls where the two major parties had been tied for voting intention. The full numbers (with changes from 30 September-1 October in parentheses) are as follows:

Conservative 41% (+2)

Labour 39% (–)

Liberal Democrat 8% (–)

Scottish National Party 4% (-1)

Green 4% (-1)

Plaid Cymru 0% (–)

Other 3% (–)

In the version of our results that does not exclude those who say they do not know who they will vote for, the proportion of those who answered “don’t know” has decreased by 3% since last week and now stands at 12%. When looking at figures here, the Conservatives still hold a 2% lead over Labour.

Labour continues to retain the support of the overwhelming majority of their 2019 voters (87%). Only 6% of 2019 Labour voters say they do not know who they would vote for in the event of a General Election. By contrast, 78% of those who supported the Conservatives last year say they would vote for Conservative again, while 12% of 2019 Conservative voters don’t know who they would vote for in the event of a General Election (a marginal decrease of 2% since last week). Among 2019 Liberal Democrat voters, 31% now say they would vote for Labour instead, a rise of 4% since our previous poll. Only 4% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last election say they would switch to voting Conservative.

Although the party of Government holds a slight lead in overall voting intention, a strong plurality (49%) of respondents are closer to the view that the Government is incompetent, while less than a quarter (24%) would consider the current Government to be competent. The Government’s Net Competency Rating has improved by a very slight 1% since last week, and it now stands at -25%.

The Government’s negative Net Competency Rating is likely linked to public scepticism surrounding several of the Government’s central coronavirus policies. A key measure implemented in an attempt to control the virus has been a 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants. A majority (54%) of respondents do not think that the Government has provided sufficient scientific justification for the 10pm curfew, including a strong plurality (47%) of those who voted for the party of Government at the last election.

Another essential component of the Government’s strategy to combat coronavirus is the Track and Trace system. The Prime Minister claimed the system would be “world beating,” yet it has encountered a range of problems since its launch. Within the last week, nearly 16,000 people with coronavirus did not have their contacts traced due to an Excel spreadsheet error. Furthermore, some users of the recently launched app have received notifications reading “Possible Covid-19 exposure,” without being provided with information about whether they should self-isolate. An overwhelming majority (62%) of the British public do not believe that Track and Trace is effective. Only a fifth (20%) consider the app to be effective. There is little partisan differentiation on this issue – a clear majority of 2019 Conservative voters (55%) believe that Track and Trace is ineffective.

Moreover, while a majority (57%) believe the rules are clear on how to get tested and what to do next if you get a positive test result, a substantial minority (43%) say they would not know what to do. This finding provides evidence that the Government’s communications strategy has been ineffective. No. 10 will hope that the initiation of regular televised press briefings will enable them to convey key messaging to the public going forward.

A plurality (44%) continue to disapprove of Boris Johnson’s job performance since becoming Prime Minister. Meanwhile, 37% approve of the Prime Minister’s performance, giving him a net approval rating of -7%, which is 4% higher than last week. Nevertheless, this week is the fourth consecutive week that Boris Johnson’s net approval rating has been below zero.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating has decreased by three points to +13% this week. Six months after he became Labour Leader, 36% approve of Starmer’s performance so far, while 23% disapprove. Over a third (34%) neither approve nor disapprove of the performance of the opposition leader, including 35% of 2019 Conservative voters and 28% of 2019 Labour voters.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak continues to enjoy remarkably high approval ratings. At this stage, 50% approve of the Chancellor’s job performance while 18% disapprove, leaving him with an overall approval rating of +32% (4% lower than last week).

For the first time in three weeks, Boris Johnson is ahead of Rishi Sunak when voters are asked which individual would be the best Prime Minister for the United Kingdom. At this stage, 35% would prefer the Prime Minister, while 33% would favour the Chancellor taking over. The proportion who ‘don’t know’ has risen by 3 points to 32%.

Meanwhile, both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak hold a 7% lead over Labour Leader Keir Starmer when the public are asked who they think would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom, at this moment.

One possible explanation for the Conservatives’ continued strong performance in voting intention polls, despite the Government’s Net Competency Rating being -25%, is that the public might simply not think that another political leader would have clearly performed better. Indeed, when we presented respondents with a list of active or recently active political figures and asked which of these figures would have handled the coronavirus pandemic better, none of them managed to attract the support of more than 20% of respondents. Indeed, a further 20% said none of them would have handled the pandemic better than Boris Johnson. Former Prime Ministers such as David Cameron and Tony Blair only amassed the support of 13% and 16%, respectively. However, it is worth noting that 66% of respondents did select at least one person.

Overall, the Conservatives have pulled back ahead of Labour in voting intention polling for the next General Election. Nevertheless, the Government continues to be viewed as incompetent, and a majority continues to disapprove of the Prime Minister’s job performance. The public is also critical of several aspects of the Government’s coronavirus strategy. Even so, while Boris Johnson’s approval rating remains well below zero, respondents still think that he or Rishi Sunak would be a better Prime Ministerial option for the UK at the present moment than Keir Starmer.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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