Last voting intention of 2016 sees Labour at lowest level since June 2009

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
January 03, 2017, 3:10 PM GMT+0

Labour voting intention ends 2016 on 24%, the lowest since Gordon Brown was Prime Minister

YouGov’s last voting intention survey of 2016, conducted on 18-19 December and reported by The Times yesterday, saw the Conservatives on 39% (from 42% in the previous survey on 4-5 Dec) and Labour on 24% (from 25%).

Labour’s tally is the now at its lowest since June 2009. This was the last Labour government’s most unpopular period, with YouGov recording the lowest Labour voting intention of the 2005-2010 Parliament that month (21% on 2-3 June 2009).

The December survey also found the Liberal Democrats on 12% (from 11% in the previous survey), UKIP on 14% (from 12% previously) and votes for other parties at 11% (from 10%).

Looking back over the course of 2016, we can see that Conservative voting intention has remained relatively steady for the latter half of the year, whilst the Labour vote has declined since the end of September.

Despite the Conservative party’s official stance on the EU referendum being to back Remain, it is clear that the Leave victory has not hurt the party in the polls. The Conservatives gained 10 points between the last YouGov poll before the referendum on 30th April and the first poll in the aftermath on 18th July, just after Theresa May had become Prime Minister.

Labour and UKIP, by contrast, saw their vote share decline over the same period – Labour from 33% to 29% (only just outside the margin of error), and UKIP’s from 20% to 12%. Unfortunately, the two and a half month polling gap means we are not able to say for sure what the cause might be: UKIP’s vote share could have declined, for instance, because Eurosceptic voters no longer see the party as necessary now that Britain is leaving the EU, or they could have been put off by Nigel Farage’s rhetoric during the campaign.

Still TM for PM

Theresa May continues to be the favoured choice for Prime Minister by a wide margin, although the 44% backing her represents a five point decrease on the previous survey two weeks before, and is the lowest since YouGov started tracking this question in since she became PM.

Jeremy Corbyn does not specifically benefit, however, with the proportion of people thinking he would remain the best Prime Minister remaining static at 16% - instead, the number of people who say they don’t know has increased to 41%.

Nearly half (46%) of Brits say that Theresa May is doing a good job as Prime Minister, compared to 30% who think she is doing a bad job. As many as 82% of 2015 Conservative voters feel May is doing well as PM, compared to just 8% who don’t.

By contrast, 61% of people think Jeremy Corbyn is doing a bad job as leader of the Labour party, compared to 18% who think he is doing well. This is down from 28% when the same question was asked in December 2015. Corbyn is performing poorly with 2015 Labour voters – just 31% think he is doing well as Labour leader, whilst more than half (53%) think he is doing badly.

No Bregrets

Finally, with the referendum year now over, there still doesn’t appear to sign of Bregret over the referendum result. Sentiment on the outcome sees the two sides on level pegging, with 44% believing the UK was right to vote to Leave the UK, and 44% saying it was wrong to do so. The proportion of Leave voters who think the UK was wrong to vote to leave (5%) is matched by the 5% of Remain voters who think the UK was right to vote to leave.

Photo: PA

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