Labour's Poll Lead Slumps After Party's Week From Hell

Keir Starmer has come under fire over his response to comments by the party's Rochdale by-election candidate.
Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer
Eddie Keogh via Getty Images

Labour’s opinion poll lead over the Tories has slumped after the party suffered one of its worst weeks since Keir Starmer became leader.

The survey by Savanta put Labour 12 points ahead of the Conservatives - a drop of seven points in a fortnight.

It showed Labour on 41%, five points down on two weeks ago and the lowest level of support for the party with the pollster in nearly 18 months.

Support for the Tories increased by two points to 29%, with the Lib Dems on 11%, Reform on 8% and the Greens on 3%.

The findings come after days of negative headlines for Labour over Starmer’s decision to dump the party’s pledge to spend £28 billion a year on green energy projects and the row over comments made by the party’s candidate in the Rochdale by-election.

It emerged at the weekend that Azhar Ali had told a meeting that Israel deliberately allowed 1,400 people to be killed on its own soil on October 7 in order to provide a pretext for invading Gaza.

After his remarks were reported by the Mail on Sunday, Labour initially stood by Ali after he made a full apology.

But the party finally withdrew its support for him Monday night after separate remarks he made at the same event about Jewish people in the media came to light.

It means that although Ali will still officially be Labour’s candidate in the by-election on February 29, the party will not be campaigning for him and he will need to sit as an independent MP if he wins.

In a further blow for Labour, the party last night suspended Graham Jones, its general election candidate in Hyndburn, over comments he also made at the same meeting.

A recording emerged of him referring to “fucking Israel” and suggesting that British people who volunteer to fight with the Israeli Defence Forces should be “locked up”.

Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta said: “This significant drop in Labour’s lead may well be in response to a torrid couple of weeks for Keir Starmer’s party, and part of a wider trend.

“It may also be something else entirely, and I’d caution people not to read too much into one poll - yet.

“But this poll still serves as useful a reminder as any that Labour’s lead - while consistently high for many months - is not infallible. Voters have not quite made up their mind about Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, and doubts could well be creeping back in.

“One thing is for certain, if this drop in the polls is a consequence of their recent troubles, it does not bode well for a short campaign. A Conservative machine in full swing and the inevitable increased scrutiny from the media may well be very uncomfortable for the Labour Party.”

Despite the recent controversies, Labour is still expected to pull off two significant by-election victories in the previously-safe Tory seats of Kingswood and Wellingborough on Thursday.


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