Post-omNICshambles, the Tories are still seen as the party of economic competence

John McDonnell says it will take two years to 'turn' public perception


Despite last week’s chaotic and embarrassing budget u-turn, 44 per cent of people believe that Theresa May and Philip Hammond are best-placed to manage the economy. Just 11 per cent who say the same of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

New ICM/Guardian polling data shows that, somehow, trust in the Tory top team has increased since before the budget, despite the backlash against Hammond’s increase to self-employment NICs, the high-profile briefing war between Number 10 and Number 11, and the government’s eventual disorderly retreat.

In an interview with the newspaper yesterday, McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the budget chaos had ‘shattered’ perceptions of Tory economic competence, ‘particularly Philip Hammond’s.’ But the immediate evidence suggests otherwise.

Overall, the voting intention figures give the Conservatives a 19-point lead. The breakdown is as follows:

CON: 45 per cent (+1)

LAB: 26 per cent (-2)

UKIP: 10 per cent (+10)

LDEM: 9 per cent (+1)

GRN: 4 per cent (-1)

Rumours that May is planning a May snap election have resurfaced today, an alarming prospect given Labour’s current polling numbers. Number 10 insists that claims are unfounded and that no election is planned before 2020.

But the same interview, McDonnell has tacitly acknowledged that the party is unprepared for the general election. Recognising that perceptions of Labour’s economic competence hadn’t improved since the 2008 crash, he said the numbers would ‘turn’, but not for up to two years.

‘I think it will turn, he said. ‘But it’s obviously hard work, of course it is. Over the next 18 months, 24 months, I think it will turn and we will be ready for the general election at that stage.’

See: After 60 days, just how unpopular is Donald Trump?

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