Boris Johnson warned of huge own goal as PM overlooking voters he needs

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Pollster James Johnson said that ordinary working-class voters “now risk falling under the Tory radar”, explaining that many voters felt frustrated by the recent increase to minimum wage. He described the policy as having “bombed” with swing voters.

Since 2019, working-class voters have formed a central part of Conservative support, after Boris Johnson won a majority of 80 after winning a number of former Labour-held seats in the North and the Midlands – both of which boast large working-class communities.

Speaking about this shift in the voting pattern, Mr Johnson said: “In 2019, many of these voters felt something had changed. Now they are questioning that once more.

If the Tories put these people back at the top of their priority list they can keep their hold on British politics. If not, it will slip out of their fingers unnoticed.”

The pollster also cited recent polling done by J.L. Partners and Politico, which found that only 15 percent of those people felt the budget would help them, with 54 percent saying it would not.

And while nearly 40 percent said the budget would help people on higher incomes than themselves, 20 percent said it was “best for people on wages lower than them.”

This, he described, is “the worst outcome for the Conservatives”, as these middle-income voters “feel they’re missing out while an underserving poorer group and an undeserving richer group do well.”

At the latest budget, Rishi Sunak announced the National Living Wage would increase to £9.50 from 1 April 2022, an increase of 6.6 percent.

Mr Johnson, who previously worked as a pollster under Theresa May’s government said that, when speaking to a focus group of swing voters about the minimum wage hike, “people began to express frustration that the minimum wage hike would not help them”.

Writing on the Politico website, he added:”It might boost the pay of those in “more junior” roles in their organisation, but not them personally.

“These were people earning slightly above where the minimum wage will now increase to.”

“A policy announced to plaudits in Westminster had, when explored beyond surface-level, bombed with the quiet swing voters of provincial England. It’s a view I’ve heard again since the budget.

“It’s not eroding the governing Conservative Party’s poll lead yet, but it speaks to a major risk in Sunak’s package and the general approach of Boris Johnson’s government.”

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“The minimum wage uplift, plus more generosity in the Universal Credit welfare benefit for those in work, may well be the right things to do.

“But the voters the Conservatives need to keep on board increasingly feel overlooked.”

He also cited research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which found that, although the poorest six income groups in the U.K. stand to benefit, middle-earners are set to lose out from the budget.

Mr Johnson also said these issues were compounded by a looming cost of living crisis.

This comes after a £20 cut to Universal Credit, which took effect from October, and food and energy bills which are set to rise another several hundred pounds a year in an acute squeeze on incomes.

However, the former Downing Street pollster also said that – while the Prime Minister may be opening himself up to an own goal – Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer is not well placed to capitalise on it.

He said: “The problem is that Labour’s current leader, Keir Starmer, is not a convincing embodiment of working-class indignation. Written off by many swing voters as weak and inauthentic, he’s failing to expose this Conservative weakness.

“Starmer’s unpopularity, and Labour’s economic credibility problem, mean that the Tories remain buoyant in the polls.”

A recent opinion poll carried out by Redfield and Wilton Strategies just before the budget showed Boris Johnson maintaining a three point lead over Sir Keir.

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