Labour Party gains ground ahead of UK general election

The Conservatives still hold a commanding lead with an expected share of between 44% and 46% of the vote

Labour Party gains ground ahead of UK general election

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the British Labour Party, launches the party's manifesto, 16-05-2017. Image: Isabel Infantes/EMPICS Entertainment

The latest opinion polls suggest the British Conservative Party has lost ground ahead of next month’s general election in the UK.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s party had looked set for a landslide victory with a majority of up to 150 seats forecast in the early stages of campaigning – however that lead appears to have significantly shortened in recent days.

One survey undertaken by YouGov for the Sunday Times suggests the gap has been halved to nine points – the first time it has been in single figures since campaigning began.

The Tories still hold a commanding lead with an expected share of between 44% and 46% of the vote – equating to majority of about 40 seats.

The apparent swing away from Mrs May’s party follows the publication of both of the main party’s election manifestos – with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn insisting his message is “getting through” to voters.

Four separate polls have put Labour on between 35% and 33% - up from the 26% forecast at the start of the campaign.

Dementia tax

On Thursday, Mrs May set out plans to transfer a greater share of the cost of caring for the elderly from tax payers to those who can afford to pay for their own care.

The policy will see people with more than £100,000 in assets paying for their own elderly care out of the value of their homes.

Mrs May also announced plans to restrict a currently universal winter fuel payment for older people.

Mr Corbyn has claimed the policies would set the young against the old in a "war between generations" while the social care package has been branded a “dementia tax” by other opponents.

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the proposals show the Conservative leadership to be "mean, calculating, and uncaring" and warned that Mrs May is taking voters for granted.

The party's leader Nigel Farron drew parallels with the poll tax controversy that forced former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from office in the early 1990s.

"If you or your loved one has or will get dementia, they are coming for you,” he said.

"First, it tells you a little bit about the character of those at the top of the Conservative Party - mean, calculating, and uncaring.

"It also tells you that the Conservatives think they have this in the [bag]. That a colossal Margaret Thatcher-style landslide is coming and that they can take you all for granted."

YouGov found that 40% of the British public are opposed to the policies while a separate poll by Survation found that 27% of voters are less likely to vote Conservative as a result of the package.

The Labour manifesto includes plans to renationalise the mail, water and rail services while increasing tax on the highest earners and clamping down on corporate excess.

The party has also pledged to invest more in the NHS, abolish tuition fee and bring an end to the public sector pay gap.

Peace process

This weekend, Mr Corbyn moved to defend his position on Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s after it emerged MI5 had opened a file on him amid concerns over potential links to the IRA.

Mr Corbyn has consistently voiced his support for a united Ireland and at the time he was campaigning for peace in the North and for the rights of all to be respected.

He met regularly with activists on both sides of the conflict.

Appearing on Sky News he said engaging with republicans was necessary to help bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

“Bombing is wrong and of course I condemn it,” he said. “I think what you have to say is all bombing has to be condemned and you have to bring about a peace process.”

Voters will take to the polls in Britain on the 8th of June.