UK

Rise of Reform could be ‘utter disaster’ for Tories, warns polling expert

Professor Sir John Curtice also said Labour could be on course to secure a record swing.

Professor Sir John Curtice said Reform’s support has grown since Nigel Farage returned as its leader
Professor Sir John Curtice said Reform’s support has grown since Nigel Farage returned as its leader (James Manning/PA)

The General Election could see a record swing to Labour while the rise in support for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK may prove to be an “utter disaster” for the Tories, polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice has said.

He commented on the potential influence of Mr Farage’s party in the wake of a poll which put Reform ahead of the Conservatives.

A YouGov survey for the Times newspaper had support for Reform at 19%, just ahead of the Tories on 18%.

Sir John, a professor at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said an average of recent polls shows backing for Reform is now at about 15% or 16%, which he declared is an “utter disaster for the Conservatives”.

(PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

Speaking at an online event organised by the Fraser of Allander economic think tank at Strathclyde, he also said of the potential victory for Labour: “We at the moment are looking at swings of 15%, 16% from Conservative to Labour.

“We’ve never had a swing of that size before. We could be having the biggest swing in the post-war era from one party to another.”

Sir John said the rise of Reform is “the most important development” in the election campaign so far, noting the party’s support increased by about three or four points after Mr Farage returned as leader.

He said: “This is a real, real problem for the Conservatives because virtually all the people who are switching to Reform are 2019 Conservative voters.

Polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice descirbed the rise in support for Reform as a ‘real problem’ for the Tories.
Polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice descirbed the rise in support for Reform as a ‘real problem’ for the Tories. (Strathclyde University/PA)

“We also know from what happened in the local elections down south at the beginning of last month that if Reform were not on the ballot paper they wouldn’t be voting Labour instead.

“Any chance the Conservatives ever had when they fired the starting gun on May 22 that they might be able to narrow Labour’s lead was predicated on them being able to win back those Reform voters.

“Their failure already to squeeze the Reform vote before Farage entered was itself bad news, and then Farage has boosted it further and made things even worse.

“Basically rather than the Conservatives recovering during this campaign… you can see they are now four points lower than they were.”

Labour are also ‘losing ground’ in the election campaig,but Prof Sir John Curtice said Sir Keir Starmer’s party was maintaining its lead over the Tories.
Labour are also ‘losing ground’ in the election campaig,but Prof Sir John Curtice said Sir Keir Starmer’s party was maintaining its lead over the Tories. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He went on to say that Labour is “also losing ground”, but the lead Sir Keir Starmer’s party has over the Tories remains around 20 to 21 points “because both parties are losing grounds”.

With this being the first General Election to be contested by five parties across the UK, with Reform, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens running national campaigns, Sir John said the Lib Dems could be “beginning to get back some of that vote they had previously lost to Labour”.

He said: “The Conservatives and Labour are trying to knock chunks out of each other and in so doing they are probably helping the small parties out a wee bit.

“The Liberal Democrats have started to rise in the polls. It is possible that the Liberal Democrats are finally reclaiming some of their lost votes to Labour.”