Labour victory chances ‘no more than ten per cent’

Labour has no more than a ten per cent chance of winning the next general election, pollster Ben Page warned activists last night.

The claim from the Ipsos Mori managing director came after a presentation in which he outlined the challenges facing the government because of voters’ “cognitive polyphasia”.

This condition, he explained at a fringe meeting in Manchester, involves voters holding apparently contradictory stances on related issues.

Ipsos Mori’s measure of economic optimism shows a real low at present, but personal expectations are little changed.

NHS satisfaction is at its highest level, but 56 per cent believe it is in crisis.

And while nearly three-quarters say we are heading for environmental disaster, 59 per cent say they are doing nothing about it. These choices prevent difficulties for the government, according to Mr Page.

He said: “The question is how to navigate them – it’s a huge challenge.”

Matthew Taylor, a former senior policy adviser in No 10 and now chair of the Royal Society of Arts, initially responded sarcastically to Mr Page’s comments.

“There’s no better time when we’re 20 points behind in the polls to conclude that the voters are stupid.”

He suggested the problem reflects “a much more profound social phenomenon”, that people overestimate their own sense of agency. “It’s a hardwired fault in the human psyche,” Mr Taylor explained. “This is a problem for progressives.”

He argued the problem goes to the heart of the differences between the Conservatives and Labour over “how you get people to change”. Labour, Mr Taylor said, want an enabling state which empowers people. The Tories say this can’t be expected unless the state pulls back.

“We have to be associated with the state rather than collective social action,” he mused.

This, Mr Page believes, is the problem. He said a fourth Labour victory would be “amazing”.

“Nothing’s impossible,” he explained, but added “you have become the government – you have become the state. The sense of gravity on that is very heavy.”