The Conservatives won’t talk about their Remainer problem, but that won’t make it go away

Four thoughts on the latest Ashcroft polling.

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Michael Ashcroft has commissioned a new set of polling from the capital in advance of the local elections on 4 May. The headline news is what we already knew from Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute polling and indeed from Labour’s very good general election performance: Jeremy Corbyn is heading for a very good night in the capital, Sadiq Khan’s approval ratings remain formidably high, while the Conservatives have a large problem with voters who backed David Cameron in 2015 and Remain in 2016.

There are however a couple of interesting new sub-plots in this latest set of polling.

“Labour Leavers” could be a lucrative target for the Conservatives

There is a small but statistically significant difference in how people who voted Leave in 2016 and Labour in 2017 see the government and opposition than those who voted Remain in 2016 and Labour in 2017 do: that is to say that they are on the whole less positive about the Opposition, and more positive about the government.  18 per cent of  “Leave 2016, Labour 2017” voters say they have a positive view of how the government is doing, as opposed to just seven per cent of “Remain 2016, Labour 2017” voters. Labour-Leavers are also more likely to approve of Theresa May personally than Labour-Remainers.

However, they should be much worried about their own flank

An awful lot has been written about Labour’s problems with Leave voters but the Tory problem with Remain voters is larger and likely to grow more acute. Due to differential turnout, the electorate was majority Remain in 2015 and 2017 and is very likely to be so in 2022, too.

The Conservatives are doing as badly, if not worse, among their own Remain voters as Labour are with their Leave voters. Equally troubling for the government, the number of dissatisfied Tory-Leavers is  considerably higher – 27 per cent of this group disapprove of the government’s management of the country – than the number of Labour-Leavers who approve.

I’ve written before about how, rather than worrying about the state of the voting intention, the Conservatives should be focusing on the growing concern about the public services while Labour should be worried about the near-third of Labour 2017 voters who are at best agnostic about Jeremy Corbyn. That’s still true, but the Tories should also keep an eye on their own Leave voters.

Men hate saying “Don’t know”

The more striking finding is that according to the poll, 50 per cent of Londoners have heard of Momentum, the pro-Corbyn internal group. Considering that Philip Hammond, the literal Chancellor, was recently an answer on the television programme Pointless, we can be near-certain these people are exaggerating, as people always tend to do when asked if they are aware of or have heard of something. As ever with this type of question, there is a pronounced gender gap: 14 per cent of men claim to have heard “a great deal” about Momentum against just four per cent of women.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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