There is a disconnect between the horrorshow commentary in the Conservative press about the Government, last week’s fracas about international law, the jumpy mood of Tory MPs…and the polls.
Though the latest YouGov finds the two main parties level, and Keir Starmer’s party will surely overtake the Conservatives in at least one survey soon, the fact remains that the latter are still hitting 40 per cent or so.
Nonetheless, we suspect that an even more testing period now lies ahead for Boris Johnson.
The slide to present poll levels from 50 per cent took place from April to June – as the Government moved off its simple “Save the NHS” Covid message to one that was more complex.
Since then, its ratings have been remarkably stable, but although polls continue to show strong support for lockdowns, confidence in the Government’s handling of the virus has fallen.
Today’s papers combine committed anti-lockdown opinion, more bad news about testing, and reports of a push by Graham Brady for greater Parliamentary scrutiny of new measures.
Admittedly, the power of the press isn’t what it was – especially among older voters fearful of the virus.
But the Government had public support for its handling of the virus in March, and we have got used since then to a two-steps-forward-one-step-back relaxation of restrictions. That’s changing fast.
If Conservative MPs are really so jumpy in September, with Labour still behind in the polls, what state of mind will they be in by December, if the test and trace system isn’t working well – as lockdowns tighten?