Begin by looking at the Politico poll of polls graph above, which we like to use on ConservativeHome from time and time, and which today we present in its two year-version.
The Conservative Party begins two summers ago on the 40 per cent or so that represents its floor, following the EU referendum of 2016 and Theresa May’s election as the Tory leader. Even the disaster of the 2017 general election does nothing to push support below this total.
The slide in the Tory rating from it begins on March 2 last year, shortly before Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is defeated for a second time, and as the prospect of a Brexit extension begins to loom.
Down, down, down it falls through the Withdrawal Agreement’s third defeat and a second Brexit extension, reaching a low of 20 per cent on May 30, after the European elections on May 24, which saw the Conservatives reduced to nine per cent of the vote, coming fifth behind the Green Party, and returning only four MEPs.
Now look at that blue line rise up, up, up as the Tory leadership contest gathers pace, Boris Johnson wins it, and survives defeats in the Supreme Court, resignations, and more defeats in Commons before winning last year’s election.
It begins to drop, with Coronavirus fatigue, economic hardship, Keir Starmer’s election and Government errors doubtless the main reasons, hitting 43 per cent on June 2. Since then, it has held steady, rising on June 9 to 44 per cent. YouGov on Friday found it at 46 per cent.
Last time round, we wrote that the Black Lives Matter fracas may have played well for Labour’s core constituency in the belt of seats that runs south from Enfield to the Thames, but badly in England’s provinces and the Red Wall.
We stick to that view. Johnson may also have been helped by the impact of Government error over the virus petering out; by Rishi Sunak’s activity; and by policies likely to go down well outside that Labour London base, such as the amalgamation of the Foreign Office and Dfid (insofar as they have cut through).
We expect Labour to take the poll lead at some point within the next year. And next year’s local elections look to be very messy, assuming they happen.
But it’s worth chewing over the Prime Minister’s achievement in first putting the Conservative pro-Brexit electoral coalition together again, and then presenting it to voters last December as a new force – after no fewer than three elections since 2010 in which the Tories had led the government, winning one of them outright. It endures still.