Jonathan Jones

Poll: Boris could save 50 Tory MPs

Poll: Boris could save 50 Tory MPs
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YouGov have once again tested how a Boris-led Tory party would compare to a Cameron-led one in the polls. When they last did so in October, they found that Boris was worth a seven-point bump: with Cameron as leader, the Tories were nine points behind Labour; Boris narrowed the gap to just two. The results this time — reported by Joe Murphy in the Evening Standard — are very similar: the Tories do six points better under Boris than under Cameron. That's enough to eliminate Labour's lead entirely. With Cameron, it's Labour 37, Tories 31. With Boris, it's 37 all.

As I said last time, switching to Boris probably would not be enough to give the Tories a majority. (In fact, on a uniform swing, 37-37 would put us just about in hung-parliament territory, with Labour only four seats short of a majority.) And it's worth repeating the two caveats to such hypothetical polling I mentioned before:

'Anthony Wells has pointed out that it essentially asks people to guess what a Boris-led Tory party would be like and whether they would support it. The Boris bump may also be a case of ‘the seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake’, which would disappear if he were actually leader.'

But those six points could be worth around 40-50 MPs. In his column this week, James Forsyth says:

'The Prime Minister polls ahead of his party and it is hard to see anyone on the Tory benches who would do better than him electorally. But this hasn’t stopped some Tory MPs from agitating for a leadership contest. ‘No change, no chance’ — that old rallying cry of the Tory disaffected — is on the lips of too many MPs for the Cameroons’ comfort.'

Well, Boris might not be on the Tory benches yet, but there are certainly those on them who see him as a better electoral prospect than Cameron. Polls such as this will only harden those suspicions.