OPINION - The Standard View: Worse than Major, Johnson and Truss, the Tories under Sunak hit a record low in the polls

Worse than John Major amid sleaze, Boris Johnson following partygate and Liz Truss in the immediate aftermath of the calamitous “mini-Budget”. The Conservatives under Rishi Sunak have fallen to a record low of 20 per cent, according to an exclusive Ipsos poll. This is their weakest result since 1978, when this regular tracker began, placing the Tories a remarkable 27 points behind Labour.

These figures represent a seven-point drop in Conservative support since January. What has happened in the last month? Official figures confirmed that the UK economy had slipped into recession at the end of 2023, the party lost two more by-elections in Wellingborough and Kingswood while former deputy chairman Lee Anderson went off on his “Islamists” rant against Sadiq Khan.

It is not all good news for Sir Keir Starmer. His personal ratings have fallen, with 55 per cent dissatisfied with his performance as Labour leader, leaving him on a net score of -26. But politics is a comparative exercise and Sir Keir doesn’t need to be liked, only for his party to be more popular than the Government. At this rate, even with the Budget to come, it is difficult to see how it could be less popular.

A victory for justice

It is a victory for the Evening Standard, which once again demonstrates the ability of journalism to shine a light on the darker recesses of the state. Sick pensioners and vulnerable people could soon be saved from criminal conviction by magistrates who sit in controversial Single Justice Procedure (SJP).

In a major intervention, courts minister Mike Freer has said that magistrates do have the powers to act if they believe a prosecution may not be in the public interest. What may at first glance appear to be a straightforward statement has the power to prevent the sort of miscarriages of justice that this newspaper has investigated over a matter of years, led by our Courts Correspondent Tristan Kirk.

Only last week, a 56-year-old woman from Beckenham was convicted under the SJP of not paying for her TV licence at a time when she had been admitted to hospital. The minister’s comments ought to mark the start of a change in practices for the better.

Queen of Croydon

Raye has made Brits history. The south London-born star, already a record-breaker for the number of nominations in one year, swept Saturday night’s ceremony with six gongs.

Album of the year for My 21st Century Blues, artist of the year, best new artist, best R&B act and song of the year for Escapism featuring 070 Shake. On musical talent alone, Croydon may have what it takes to secure independence.