Patrick O’Flynn Patrick O’Flynn

Can Cummings really hurt Teflon Boris?

Seldom have so many keyboard warriors and political activists professed so much dissatisfaction towards the government of the day. For some left-wing bloggers and tweeters, the number one cause of outrage of the moment is so-called ‘Tory sleaze’, a subject to be added to an already formidably long list of gripes towards Boris Johnson that includes Brexit, the claim that Britain is not very racist and his alleged unforgivable bungling of the Covid crisis.

On the right, there is now, if anything, an even wider array of issues igniting fury towards the Prime Minister. These range from the ongoing suspensions of normal civil liberties to an allegedly ‘ruinous’ green agenda; from his penchant for high public spending to the workings of the Northern Ireland protocol; from a failure to scrap the BBC licence fee to diluting pledges to stand up for forces veterans.

For both factions it all seems increasingly personal, involving unflattering caricatures of the PM as a buffoon, clown, right-wing monster, left-wing monster, or believer in no-one and nothing but himself.

But here’s the strangest thing: none of it is making any difference to the Prime Minister’s standing in the eyes of the general public. Even the latest allegations from Dominic Cummings are unlikely to have much of an impact on Boris’s popularity. It is as if Boris Johnson has donned a coat made of Teflon. In fact, the more that the most politically engaged people rage at him, the more popular he seems to get.

This is apparent not only in a Tory poll lead over Labour now averaging almost ten points, but in the PM’s personal ratings. His YouGov monthly tracker recording the balance between those who think he is doing well or doing badly has shifted from -25 in October to evens now. Redfield & Wilton’s latest poll gives him a +15 rating, compared to just +2 for Keir Starmer.

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