Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

General Election 2019: Withington exit poll suggests trouble brewing for Labour

General Election 2019: Withington exit poll suggests trouble brewing for Labour

| By Kit Roberts

An exit poll conducted by MM in Manchester Withington suggests a reduction in Labour’s majority in the constituency in favour of the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

The poll, which surveyed just under 200 respondents, indicated a potential decrease in Labour’s share of the vote.

In our exit poll, Labour’s share has dropped by 7.3%, whilst the Conservatives have increased their share by 5.1%, and the Liberal Democrats by 2.7%.

Whilst the swing is nowhere near enough for the seat to change hands, it could be indicative of a wider swing against Labour in its traditional heartlands.

Of those questioned who confirmed their support for the party, a large proportion placed it down to Labour’s manifesto.

One voter told MM: "Their policies are far, far better than any other party."

Perhaps Labour’s message is not so unappealing as some would like to believe. Others drew positive attention to the party’s position on Brexit, saying that it is "their stance on a second referendum" which has secured their support, whilst some felt an obligation due to their line of work.

The NHS, police, and train drivers were all among people who declared their job as a factor in their loyalties. There was, of course, also the bogeyman of Mr. Johnson in the back of voters’ minds, with one young voter declaring: "Anything to get Boris out."

However, even in this Labour heartland, the strain of Corbyn’s leadership shows. One Conservative voter said of Corbyn that while they think Corbyn has a certain charm, “I don’t believe they could find the money.”

There was also concern among some Tories about a possible coalition between Labour and the SNP, a prospect one voter found troubling, telling MM: “We are better as a union.”

Some Conservative voters went even further, with one declaring flatly: “The opposition is too horrible to think about," and another expressing concern at Corbyn’s proposed tax increase for the top 5% of earners.

When asked why they were voting Conservative, they told MM: “It’s largely around taxes and the taxes Labour will impose. I would lose a lot of money.” Mr. Johnson’s broken record slogan also made its usual appearance.

Although it has become grating, it has clearly made an impression with voters. Although, according to this exit poll, the Tories are the party with the biggest increase in their vote share, they remain in third place behind the Liberal Democrats. 

Liberal Democrat voters often cited concern over Brexit as their main reason, hardly surprising given the overwhelming emphasis the party’s campaign has placed there.

One told MM: “I want another referendum”, while another said simply “Stop Brexit”.

This comes in a seat which was taken from the Lib Dems by Labour in 2015. Although our exit poll indicates some return of support, it does not make up for the reduction they suffered in 2017.

The Brexit Party, though present, appears to have failed to make any meaningful impression here, polling at under 1%.

Whilst these numbers do not necessarily reflect the full voting intent of Manchester Withington, they could imply a pushback in the Labour heartlands.

Corbyn’s policies do seem to have struck home with the public. Labour voters divulged more than others that they are voting Labour because they like the party’s policies, rather than dislike others.

Nonetheless, if the numbers turn out to be accurate, it could mean trouble for Labour.