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Eight months on from GE17 how LAB doing is performing in the polls compared with earlier main opposition parties at the same stage

February 9th, 2018

David Cowling, the leading election analyst and former head of BBC political research, has produced an excellent paper which asks the question of why Corbyn’s Labour is not doing better in the polls.

The response that is coming from the party to recent surveys is to refer back to the polling what happened on June 8th and the fact that party did better than most, though not all, of the surveys on the day itself.

The concluding part of the Cowling analysis looks at how other main opposition parties have been doing in the polls eight compared to the election outcome. He concludes:

“… one is left to wonder at the under-performance of Labour, post-2017, especially given the state of the Conservative party that they are facing. Mrs May still has higher ratings as the best candidate for Prime Minister than Mr Corbyn. The Labour leader has never once achieved a positive rating in the Ipsos MORI time series on satisfaction/dissatisfaction with party leaders, unlike every other Labour Opposition leader since the 1970s. The Conservatives are still better regarded than Labour in terms of managing the economy. And, despite the fact that a clear majority of voters believe the Conservatives are handling the Brexit negotiations badly, they are still preferred over Labour as the party most likely to secure the best outcome.

Labour can justifiably point to a number of issues where they are preferred to the Conservatives, including the NHS, Housing, Education and Unemployment; and they are seen as the party most on the side of ‘ordinary’ people. But why does this not translate into increased political support? It is not as if Labour is currently struggling against other strong contenders for Conservative votes: UKIP has totally collapsed and the Lib Dems have only reached double figures in one opinion poll (out of 68) since the 2017 election.

The Westminster graveyard is littered with the corpses of party leaders who claimed it would be “alright on election night”. As increasing numbers of people are observing, if Labour cannot put the Conservatives on the canvas when Mrs May is leading them, then what chance will they have against another Conservative leader? Labour has been lucky that everyone’s attention has been on Conservative woes. That luck will not last forever.”

Mike Smithson