Tories face Devon wipe-out as voters turn to Labour

In East Devon, a win is predicted for an Independent, based on the strong showing at the last General Election of Independent Claire Wright, but she has announced she is stepping back from politics.

Must be tempting though – Owl

Edward Oldfield www.devonlive.com 

The Tories would lose most of their Devon seats and be almost wiped out in the Westcountry if there was a General Election now. The latest survey on voting intentions shows Labour has the biggest lead over the Conservatives since the 1990s as electors respond to the Government’s handling of the economy and cost-of-living crisis.

The poll for YouGov and The Times gave Labour a 54% share of the vote, 33 points ahead of the Tories who dropped 7 points to 21%. The survey also suggests Keir Starmer’s Labour Party are taking votes from the Liberal Democrats, which would have a significant impact on the results in Devon where in many seats the Lib-Dems have been the main opposition.

Translating the poll results into the effect on Parliament shows Labour would have a majority of 346, leaving the Conservatives with just 61 MPs. Election Maps UK says it would mean the Conservatives losing every one of its six seats in Cornwall to Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

In Devon, the Conservatives would lose six seats mostly to Labour but hang on in North Devon, Totnes and Torbay. In East Devon, a win is predicted for an Independent, based on the strong showing at the last General Election of Independent Claire Wright, but she has announced she is stepping back from politics . Labour would see its two seats increase to eight, or nine if it took East Devon where they were in third place ahead of the Liberal Democrats in 2019.

The survey suggests that Tiverton and Honiton would go to Labour after the by-election win by Liberal Democrat Richard Foord over the Conservatives in June, following the resignation of Neil Parish. Labour were previously the runner-up to the Tories in 2019, but the Liberal Democrats swept to victory in what was seen as a protest vote against Boris Johnson and the Whitehall parties scandal.

The next General Election has to take place before the end of the current five-year term of the Parliament on December 17, 2024, so the Conservatives have two years to recover support. But the vote can be called earlier by the prime minister if MPs lose confidence in the Government. Meanwhile there are local council elections scheduled in May next year, which will be seen as a test of Liz Truss’s performance.

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Exeter, Steve Race, said people now viewed Labour as a “credible alternative government”. He said: “It’s clear that Liz Truss and her Tory government have lost control of the economy. The ‘mini-budget’ turned out to be a big and risky gamble with the economy that has not paid off, and threatens to hit households across Exeter and the South West. People are worried about their energy bills, they’re now worried about their pensions, and they’re worried about their future mortgage payments.”

Graphic showing voting intentions reported on September 28 and 29

Graphic showing voting intentions reported on September 28 and 29 (Image: YouGov)

YouGov said its poll carried out on Wednesday and Thursday this week showed Conservative support had dropped by 7 points, the Liberal Democrats were down 2 to a 7% share of the vote intention, Greens were down 1 to 6% and Reform UK were up 1 to 4%.

Commentators are blaming the slump in support for the Government on last week’s mini-budget, which saw £45billion of tax cuts for the richest funded by borrowing. That is said to have upset the international financial markets and led to a steep fall in the value of the pound, causing the Bank of England to step in to support the currency and increasing upward pressure on interest rates.

YouGov’s associate editor Patrick English commented: “The direct transfer of voters away from both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats is the key reason for Labour’s record lead today. The context is of course very important – we are in the middle of a very negative news cycle for the government as they deal with the economic fallout from Friday’s deeply unpopular mini-budget, at the same time as Labour are enjoying increased coverage and exposure – including of popular policies such as the establishment of a public energy company – from their conference.

“Add to this long-term public frustration with the government’s handling of the cost of living and decreasing faith in the Conservative Party to handle the economy, and it all makes for a toxic public opinion environment for the government.”

Graphic showing voter intentions

Graphic showing voter intentions (Image: ElectionMapsUK/Flourish)

Asked about the Conservatives’ poor polling in the wake of the mini-budget, Treasury minister Andrew Griffith told Times Radio on Thursday: “I would welcome the increased scrutiny as a result of that poll, to be honest. We have had obviously a busy week laying out the details of our growth plan, making sure our energy package is in place from this Saturday when bills would otherwise have kicked in.

“But, also, we heard from Labour this week more powers for striking workers, so those who aren’t going to get their post delivered tomorrow, who aren’t going to be able to take their train, can reflect on that. We also heard how they want to increase the energy insecurity of this country – remember energy is the big headwind we are all dealing with – as a result of their desire to have a nationalised energy company and also turn off every last drop of North Sea gas by 2030. Hopefully we will see more scrutiny of that as well.”

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