This could well be turning into the 'NHS Election'.
Today’s front page of the UK’s most-read newspaper – the Metro – focuses not on the infuriating debate between Johnson and Corbyn on Tuesday night, but the NHS. In doing so, it seems to fit the public mood.
The Tories are doing all they can to keep the focus on ‘getting Brexit done’. Like Theresa May in 2017, this election was called as the Brexit Election: a chance for the Tories to pillory Labour for their EU ambiguity.
The problem is: it didn’t really work for them then – Labour largely avoided Brexit, hammered home its NHS message, and surged. The same could be happening this time. When voters are told by parties what they should think about, quite often voters will respond by saying: Nah. After nearly a decade of cuts, it’s public services which are climbing up the agenda.
Labour have certainly been hammering the NHS angle this time, with big, bold spending pledges, and warnings about the future of the health service. Last night’s ITV debate saw Johnson confronted over what Labour call the PM’s ‘secret plan to sell out our NHS to US corporations’.
New research from Ipsos MORI shows that a stream of damaging NHS stories (‘winter crisis’, under-staffing and warnings from top bods) and Labour’s top lines seem to be having an impact.
When prompted with a list of issues that might be important to them in deciding how to vote in the upcoming election, the top two issues for adults in Great Britain are now the NHS (60%), with Brexit second (56%). Ipsos say: “The proportion of GB adults choosing the NHS has increased 6 points since last week.”
Perhaps linked with this, favourability towards Jeremy Corbyn has improved slightly since last week. with 29% of GB adults now saying they have a favourable opinion. It’s still a low base, but it’s a promising trajectory for Labour – a party that has (traditionally) been most trusted on looking after public services. Now of course, it’s just one
Combined with polling suggesting the environment is more important to voters than the economy this election, left-wing parties will be feeling a tad more optimistic today.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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