The Labour party conference in Liverpool has started with a big boost from opinion polls putting them on course to win a 56-seat majority in the next general election.
The latest poll by Savanta ComRes sees the Conservatives trailing Labour by 12 points, with the parties on 45% and 33% (the Liberal Democrats are on 10%). The major MRP (multilevel regression and post stratification) poll predicts Sir Keir Starmer’s party will win 353 seats at the next election, while the vanquished Conservatives will take just 211 – down from 357.
Trust in the government to tackle the cost of living crisis has evaporated, with the poll showing that in nearly 80% of current Tory seats, voters trust Labour more.
Starmer’s party will be jubilant with the poll but it will strike dread and fear into Liz Truss’s Tories, especially among her 150 MPs who face losing their seats.
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s £45 billion tax giveaway for the rich – funded by borrowing – has not gone down well with the electorate. Conservative MPs are as concerned about Kwarteng’s mini-budget as the economists and markets that reacted immediately and saw the pound fall to its lowest level against the dollar for 37 years on Friday.
However, the chancellor is undeterred by the near unanimous criticism from fiscal experts and Kwarteng insisted there is “more to come” in terms of tax cuts.
That will be music to Labour members’ ears with the latest voting intentions predicting they would take Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat – one of 154 constituencies that would turn red.
Mandelson says ‘Labour is now safe to vote for’
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Peter Mandelson – one of the main architects of “new” Labour – believes Britons now think it is “safe” to vote for Labour again.
In a clear dig at former leader Jeremy Corbyn, the now Lord Mandelson praised Starmer and called on him to move the party even further to the centre ground in order to “decisively” win the next general election.
“People are saying it’s time, it’s safe to give Labour their turn to take the country forward,” Mandelson told the Chopper’s Politics Podcast.
“People need to be reminded from here to polling day that the Labour Party is a different Labour Party under Keir Starmer and that it is now safe to vote for.”
Mandelson – a former MP for Hartlepool and the grandson of deputy prime minister Herbert Morrison, who was sacked by Blair over sleaze allegations and had to resign when readmitted to Cabinet over another scandal – said the lesson from new Labour was “discipline, discipline, discipline”.
He added: “We were a very tight ship and things ran properly. We knew how to run a railway in the lead up to it and during as we entered power.
“We were always remembering where the British people are rather than where some in our party would like them to be.”
Left depleted and marginalised at conference
A clear sign Labour has already shifted to the centre came with Sunday’s (September 25) release of the conference priorities ballot through which members select the topics for debate.
The Guardian reports that the vote shows “for the first time, the Labour membership at its conference is now dominated by Starmer supporters” after all but one topic proposed by Momentum – the leftwing campaign group and Corbyn allies – failed to make the ballot.
Momentum’s only success on the priorities ballot was seeing health and social care selected – with backing from the pro-Starmer Labour to Win group. They saw all of their topics win selection.
Some 200,000 members have left the Labour party since Starmer took over and a former Corbyn-adviser James Schneider says there exists “a real pain and hatred of the left” in the party.
Schneider has written a book about Labour’s left and added: “The right spent five years out of power in the party and they didn’t develop one idea for what they want to do in the country. But they did develop a very impressive programme of how to make sure Corbyn never happens again.”
Starmer suspended Corbyn from the party in October 2020.