One, two, three – and now Truss tops our Cabinet League Table for the fourth time

4 Apr

The table now seems to be in set pattern established soon after Britian’s vaccination success became apparent.

The same Ministers remain at its top and the same too at its bottom.  Consider the case of Kwasi Kwarteng, up a place this month at fourth: his score, 64.7, is exactly the same as it was then.

There are a mix of small score and table movements up and down, but none of them worth expending many words about – though we pause for the Ministers at the very top and bottom of the table.

At the top, there is Liz Truss, on her fourth table-topping month – and a record high of 89 per cent.

That’s a reflection, in a minor key, of her decisive handling of the Equalities brief and, in a major one, of the rapid succession of trade deals: most of them rollovers, true – but accomplished more speedily than some anticipated.

At the bottom, there is Gavin Williamson – on minus 27 per cent.

That’s a dreadful rating, but less so than the -43 per cent he scored last month, or this – 36 per cent and -48 per cent during the previous ones.

Our reading is that his early and emphatic support for free speech during the Batley Mohammed cartoons row, which we haven’t heard the last of, accounts for his improvement.

Our survey. Almost nine in ten Party members expect the Conservatives to lead a government after the next election.

3 Apr

Here are the figures for the last twelve months for:

  • The percentage expecting a Conservative majority government.
  • The percentage expecting a Tory-led coalition.
  • The percentage expecting a Conservative led minority.

And then the overall figure for those expecting a Tory led-government of some kind.

  • March 2021: 79, 3, 7 – 89 per cent.
  • February 2021: 77, 3, 7 – 87 per cent.
  • January 2021: 70, 4, 9 – 83 per cent.

  • December 2020: 68, 4, 7 – 79 per cent.
  • November 2020: 54, 10, 12 – 76 per cent.
  • October 2020: 58, 4, 10 – 72 per cent.
  • September 2020: 55, 4, 10 – 69 per cent.
  • August 2020: 67, 4, 9 – 80 per cent.
  • July 2020: 74, 5, 4 – 83 per cent.
  • May 2020: 77, 3 5 – 85 per cent.
  • April 2020: 87, 1, 3 – 91 per cent.
  • March 2020: 93, 2, 2 – 97 per cent.

So the proportion expecting a Conservative-led Government has never fallen below two in three respondents.

Unsurprisingly, the trends mirror Boris Johnson’s own ratings for dealing with Covid: a super-high tick of approval at the start; a fall-off as there seemed to be no escape from a cycle of lockdowns and loosenings; an upsurge after the arrival and distribution of vaccines.

Pride comes before a fall, and all that, but the above helps to explain why it’s grim out there for Keir Starmer.

An Easter present for Johnson. His rating for handling Covid is up again – and at its highest since a year ago. Our survey.

2 Apr

Here are the Prime Minister’s scores since March 2020.

  • February 2021: 74 per cent.
  • January 2021: 65 per cent.
  • December 2020: 45 per cent.
  • November 2020: 37 per cent.
  • October 2020: 42 per cent.
  • September 2020: 30 per cent.
  • August 2020: 49 per cent.
  • July 2020: 61 per cent.
  • June 2020: 64 per cent.
  • May 2020: 72 per cent.
  • April 2020: 84 per cent,
  • March 2020: 92 per cent.

Rishi Sunak’s 81 per cent marks a one per cent rise since last month, one so small as to be meaningless.

ConHome’s survey. Johnson’s rating for handling Covid reaches its highest since last spring.

7 Mar

The Prime Minister’s ratings for dealing with the pandemic started very high, fell as lockdown continued and deaths rose, fell further when the rule of six and a tirering system were introduced, bumped along during the second lockdown and new tiering…and have risen during this third lockdown as the vaccine programme has kicked in.

His 74 per cent rating this month is his highest since last April – and his third highest score overall.  As readers will have seen on Friday, it has not been accompanied by a similar rise in our Cabinet League Table, where he’s up one point since last month and seventh, as he was then.

For the record, his scores for each month since and including last March have been: 92 per cent, 84 per cent, 72 per cent, 64 per cent, 61 per cent, 49 per cent, 30 per cent, 42 per cent, 37 per cent, 45 per cent and 65 per cent.

And here are Rishi Sunak’s scores: 91 per cent, 91 per cent, 87 per cent, 88 per cent, 82 per cent, 84 per cent, 85 per cent, 83 per cent, 77 per cent, 80 per cent, 84 per cent…and 80 per cent this month post-Budget.  That’s his second lowest score tied with December’s, but this is very much a matter of degree.

After all, 80 per cent is a very positive rating – and seven of his other 12 scores are in the low to mid-80s, so this finding can scarcely be argued to represent a dramatic post-Budget collapse.

Our survey. A majority of respondents back Sunak’s Budget. Under one in ten say it was bad.

6 Mar

Rishi Sunak’s ranking in our latest Cabinet League Table – still second; lowest score as Chancellor since Covid; overwhelmingly positive raing – sets the scene for our survey’s post-Budget question.

Add together those respondents who thought that the Chancellor’s plans were either good or very good, and you have 58 per cent – a majority.

Under one in ten believe that Sunak delivered bad Budget: a very different response from that of some of the newspapers that they will read.

You can of course argue that 42 per cent of the replies did not give his plans a thumbs-up, but that is to include the 34 per cent who saw them as a mix of good and bad.  The planned tax rises will doubtless count for some of the bad.

As an exercise, try dividing that 34 per cent by two, and adding half of it to the 58 per cent.  You get 75 per cent – and, as it happens, the Chancellor’s net positive rating in that Cabinet League Table was 74 per cent.

That’s as fair a summing-up of the whole as we can manage.  Finally, a balancing “very bad” category was lost between the conception and publication, for which we apologise.

It’s worth adding that its absence has made next to no difference.  If you think the Budget was very bad, you’ll either tick “bad” as a substitute, or refuse to complete the question.  Only one respondent out of 898 passed on the question, for whatever reason.

Our monthly survey will be postponed until after Wednesday’s Budget

28 Feb

Ordinarily, our February monthly survey would go out today, or would have been issued a few days previously.  Occasionally, the survey has gone out a day late; perhaps even more rarely, a few days later.

But this month will mark the first time we’ve deliberately held a survey back.  We will issue it on Thursday, the day after the coming Budget, for the simple reason that undertaking it after the event is more sensible than doing it before.

After all, we can’t ask a question about what members of the ConservativeHome panel think of the Budget before it’s taken place.

Rishi Sunak is evidently concerned about the future trajectory of debt and deficit, and the advance briefing suggests that his first instrument of flattening it will be tax rises rather than spending cuts, though the reality of Wednesday may well be less painful than the prospect.

Downing Street and the Treasury’s plan may be to steer Tory MPs and the public towards the view that “it wasn’t as bad as all that” – as some tax rises are announced but postponed until later in the Parliament, in order to bring them in as the economy grows (at least, such will surely be the plan).

The Chancellor’s first Cabinet League table rating in that post put him at 65 per cent, last February.  He then shot up to 95 per cent, among our the Table’s highest-ever scores, as the pandemic broke cover in March.

Since then, he has come in at 93 per cent, 92 per cent, 92 per cent, 85 per cent, 83 per cent, 82 per cent, 82 per cent, 75 per cent, 80 per cent and 82 per cent.

That’s a picture of a gradual decline from a stupendously high level, though retaining an outstanding score, until the vaccine bounce of the last survey, and the Brexit trade deal one of the poll before, pushed his score back up.  He topped the table from March until November, when Liz Truss took over.

So we will see on Friday how his Budget and has gone down, and how his own score has fared, as the opiate of furlough and other lockdown and restriction subsidies is withdrawn – and we move towards more conventional times.

Our Cabinet League Table. Truss is still top, Johnson is up again – and Kwarteng comes straight in at fourth.

4 Feb
  • Our final Cabinet League Table of last year saw a Brexit deal bounce.  The ratings of every member of the Cabinet was up.  So there’s not much room this month for a vaccine bounce.
  • Nonetheless, nearly every Minister’s rating has risen, though not by enough to matter much if at all.  For example, Liz Truss, who tops the table for a third month running, sees her score rise by a single point – margin of  error country.
  • Priti Patel drifts down from sixth to ninth (from 58 per cent to 51 per cent), and Grant Shapps falls into the bottom third (from 43 per cent to 36 per cent).  That looks like a border control and airport quarantine effect.
  • Boris Johnson and Michael Gove continue to work their way back upwards.  The Prime Minister was ninth on 47 per cent.  Now he is seventh on 55 per cent.  Gove was seventh on 47 per cent and is now fifth on 61  per cent.  And Kwasi Kwarteng comes straight in at number four on 61 per cent.  Watch that man!

The campaign to oppose the 0.7 per cent aid cut will gain very little support from Party members

10 Jan

Here is a ConservativeHome members’ panel result that is unsurprising (so much so as perhaps to explain why it missed out on publication last month), but which it is nonetheless important to record.

The Government is in no place simply to suspend the target.  It was enshrined in law during the Coalition years, and Ministers seem to accept that, while the legislation allows the target to be missed unintentionally (and for the Government then to explain what it will do in future to hit it), it doesn’t allow it to be missed intentionally.

That will mean a Bill, to be debated before Covid-19 has fully receded, and with an unknown number of Tory MPs opposed.  Harriet Baldwin gave a preview of the arguments they will deploy on this site recently.

We will be surprised if the number of dissenters hits over 40, at which point the Government risks losing part or all of the Bill, though sources within their camp are bullish.  What’s clear if our survey is correct is that they will have very little support indeed from Tory members.

Our survey: advent of the new strain and the vaccine sees a swing towards maintaining lockdown

29 Dec

Last month, Conservative members still reported significant unease about the Government’s approach to combating Covid-19.

Whilst there was a swing away from support for the ‘Swedish model’ as an alternative (in favour of a more effective test-and-trace system), there was still a majority for easing restrictions “faster and more widely”.

Opinion this month is much more evenly split. Support for a quicker exit from lockdown has fallen from 56 per cent to 37 per cent, whilst that for the opposing view – “more slowly and less widely” – rose from 11 per cent to 24 per cent. There was also a small increase in those who thought that Ministers have got it just right, from 31 per cent to 35 per cent.

It’s a similar story on the broader question of coronavirus strategy. Support for maintaining the restrictions “as at present” has risen from 18 per cent to 34 per cent, despite those measures getting significantly harsher with the advent of ‘Tier 4’. It therefore edges ahead of test-and-trace, the former favourite, which slips from 42 per cent to 33 per cent.

And the ‘voluntary social distancing’ option, which led as recently as October, falls from 38 per cent to just 29 per cent.

There are two obvious possible explanations for this shift in approach. The first is that members are much more worried about the new, more virulent strain of Covid-19 than they were about the original one. The second is that with the vaccination programme already underway, the case for knuckling down seems much stronger than it did when the prospect was potentially years of restrictions.

Johnson’s rating for dealing with Covid rises in our latest survey

28 Dec

Last month, those totals were 37 per cent, 52 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.  Now, only marginally more panel members think that the Prime Minister is dealing with Covid badly than well.

Furthermore, there has been a shift in their view over time against lockdowns and restrictions.  So what is going on?

You will find out more later this week when we publish more results from the survey – but in the meantime here is our take, for better or for worse.

We wrote recently that the arrival of vaccines, the emergence of a more contagious Coronavirus variant, and Sweden’s struggle with a “second wave” will have persuaded some Conservative MPs that there is now no alternative to the Government’s strategy.

Our guess is that a section of the panel is now thinking in that kind of way.

There doesn’t seem to be any other convincing explanation in a month during which restrictions have generally tightened.  That our survey went out in the wake of the UK and the EU securing a Brexit trade deal may also have had some marginal impact.

The figures for the Government as a whole are 48 per cent, 45 per cent and seven per cent.  80 per cent say that they support the measures that Rishi Sunak is taking.

That’s the first time that Ministers’ collective rating has been in the black since August, and that Johnson’s own is slightly lower will reflect greater doubts about his own focus.