Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


The verdict on the Corbyn relaunch: Jeremy must try harder

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

“Message discipline and clarity is like good underwear. You don’t want to wave it around but you notice if it’s not there.”

The tweet by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith didn’t mention Jeremy Corbyn by name but her tweet was undoubtedly prompted last week’s “relaunch.”

Smith who was appointed the country’s first woman Home Secretary by Gordon Brown in 2007 was of course aware that supporters of the Labour leader scorn the New Labour virtue of message discipline.

I’m a true believer. Message discipline is a vital part of winning elections, something I’m rather keen on. So, I had Smith’s comment in mind when I replied to a charming member of Team Corbyn who asked during the Fabian conference on Saturday what I thought of the relaunch.

There were two things wrong with it, I suggested. Firstly, the key message that Labour was “not wedded” freedom of movement of EU citizens frayed round the edges under the pressure of media interviews.

The second sin was that he scooped himself – offering an alternative story about capping of high pay that detracted from the message on migration  One of my media training colleagues likes to quote an American trainer’s dictum: “if you want them to eat chicken, don’t lay out a buffet.”

Team Corbyn will have been pleased with the Guardian assessment of the Fabian speech,  judging it  to be “one of the most polished and well-crafted he has delivered as Labour leader, something being attributed to the influence of his new speechwriter, David Prescott, son of the former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott.” I welcomed the young Prezza’s here last month.

On the debit side, however, were comments from commentators sympathetic to Labour. John Harris on Today  said that delivering on a radical agenda needs deep thoughts and strategic thinking. He accused Corbyn of making it up as he goes along and shooting from the hip.

“A reasonable idea, an argument worth starting is destroyed, becomes literally incredible by the end of the day.” And  Will Hutton in the Observer  accused the Labour leader of “blundering, ill-prepared” into the high pay argument.

For me the lesson of the relaunch is that Corbyn needs to try harder. Labour does need to be talking about immigration but much more important is developing a coherent economic policy that convinces voters that Labour will make them better off. Resentment against excessive high pay and campaigning against austerity won’t cut through unless the top lines of Labour’s appeal are about promoting and sharing prosperity.

That is, of course, what Theresa May is promising and her massive approval rating leads over Corbyn have got many Labour members worried about what could happen if she call an early election. Alastair Meeks recent PB post suggesting
suggesting the Prime Ministers poll ratings “flatter to deceive” were therefore comforting and, to me, persuasive. “She’s safe enough while she’s faced with a useless opponent. If she finds herself up against someone more competent, she might find herself struggling far more quickly than most pundits currently could imagine, ” argued Meeks.

In the end, that is the case for a change of Labour leader. But In the meantime, all we can ask is that Jeremy Corbyn is the best leader he can be. The relaunch wasn’t perfect but as a signal that he now sees reaching out beyond his devoted following as the test of his leadership is undoubtedly a big plus.

Don Brind


Now you can bet on how many LAB MPs will quit as during 2017

Saturday, January 14th, 2017


Interesting new betting market up from William Hill on how many LAB MPs will quit the Commons this year. The bar has been set at six which seems reasonable given that we know about Copeland, Tristram Hunt and Andy Burnham’s promise to resign if he’s elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester.

There are lots of rumours circulating about other possibly escapees from the PLP and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw other developments in the next few days.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has not been a happy place since September 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader. Less than seven months ago Labour MPs by 80% to 20% voted against Mr Corbyn in a motion of confidence. Corbyn has hung on since then.

What is causing disquiet for many MPs is the prospect of the boundary review and the impact that is likely to have on their continued presence in the House of Commons after the next election. Both Copeland and Stoke Central were due to be seriously affected by the review and it was no surprise that the sitting MPs feared  for the selection process that was likely to happen if they’d have wanted to stay.

On top of that there must be many MPs whose sole reason for being in politics is that they aspire  to ministerial office and can now see no future for Labour under Mr Corbyn.

There are others who have felt deeply uncomfortable by some of the policy positions espoused by the current leader a particularly on international matters,  defence and BREXIT. Corbyn’s clumsy handling of the anti-Semitism issue hasn’t helped either.

So a further four MPs on top of the three that we already know about seems a reasonable total and the bet looks value.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s relaunch week ends with the LDs taking a LAB council seat in one of its heartlands on a 36% swing

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

And the yellows pick up a CON seat on a big swing

The 2017 council by-election season has opened with the Lib Dems taking seats from both CON and LAB on big swings. The results are above.

In Sunderland, where only 39% voted REMAIN on June 23rd, Farron’s party had the most surprising result. It appeared to be a LAB-UKIP contest and few anticipated a move on this scale. Last time the LD got just 4.5% in the seat and were in fourth place.

This could be a reaction to BREXIT or the lacklustre Corbyn leadership but there’s little doubt that Farron’s party is fired up at the moment with their confidence boosted enormously by the Richmond Park victory last month.

The result will, no doubt, provide further ammunition for Labour’s Corbyn sceptics.

What’s also noteworthy about Sunderland Sandhill is how poorly UKIP did in a part of the country where you’d expect it to do well.

The Three Rivers gain from CON was in what had been a longstanding LD seat and it would have only been a surprise if the LD had failed to take it. The margin of victory was significant.

Coming up soon we have the Copeland Westminster by-election. The LDs are the first party to have selected a candidate and she has already flagged her main campaign points BREXIT and the NHS.

Mike Smithson


The PB/Polling Matters Podcast: Labour’s re-brand & why 2017 won’t be all plain sailing for Mrs. May

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

On the first PB/Polling Matters podcast of 2017 Keiran discusses the future of the Labour Party with the General Secretary of the Fabian Society Andrew Harrop. They discuss Corbyn’s recent rebrand as a left-wing populist and Labour’s mounting problems including Scotland, Brexit and the daunting electoral math faced in Westminster ahead of the presumed General Election in 2020 (and what to do about it). Keiran also takes us through some recent polling and explains why he thinks 2017 will be a tough year for Theresa May, regardless of the Labour Party.

Follow Keiran on twitter at @keiranpedley

You can read the Fabians report referenced in today’s podcast here 


Corbyn and his party’s biggest challenge is making headway amongst his own age group – the oldies

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

With the youngsters LAB’s just fine: pity they’re less likely to vote

Watching the TV news it’s clear that Corbyn Mark 2 hasn’t quite had the impact that his team would have liked. There’s a terrible lack of consistency and no real clear plan about what the message was going to be.

A problem is that the audience for TV news bulletins tend to be the very people that Corbyn and LAB are most struggling with – the oldies. Today’s less than impactful events are just going to reinforce attitudes rather than change the narrative.

The ICM data above shows the huge age split in views of Labour with very good numbers coming from the young.

I’ve long regarded one quality as being the most important one in resonating with voters and that is the appearance of competence. Corbyn and team have yet to exude that.

Mike Smithson


Farron says Corbyn’s now “cheerleader in chief for the Conservative Brexit government”

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Corbyn’s LAB re-launch day – how its going so far

One of the features of the post-GE215 uprising within Labour that brought Corbyn victory in the leadership elections was the way that anyone who opposed their man was tagged by the Corbynistas as a “Tory”. In Labour circles this is the ultimate insult and it was used effectively to undermine the alternative contenders.

This form of abuse has continued as we see almost hourly on social media. All of this is why Tim Farron’s form attack on the Corbyn BREXIT position will infuriate the leader’s backers. This is an ultra senstitive sensitive point.

The challenge, of course is that the Corbyn’s approach means he can now be portrayed as backing the Tory mainstream on the political issue that will dominate 2017 and beyond – how the UK extracts itself from the EU.

The re-launch which follows less than supportive words for Corbyn from UNITE boss Len McCluskey has the look of a last ditch effort to turn the polling round and find way a way of looking credible. Ladbrokes announced these odds this morning.

Mike Smithson


Team Corbyn makes a generous New Year gift to Tim Farron given that 68% of current LAB voters think it is wrong to leave

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Mike Smithson


After 16 months of Corbyn Mark 1 get ready folk for this week’s launch of Corbyn Mark 2

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Save Jezza – trash the media

Above is part of a Newnight discussion that I was part of last week which, amongst other things, examined the position of Jeremy Corbyn and whether there was any chance of recovery. I was pretty blunt in the programme though the views expressed were ones which have repeatedly been made before. It was interesting in the programme that the JC-backer in the discussion responded to my points by attacking the media.

Labour’s voting intention polling and his personal leadership ratings are so wretched that when new ones come out with the same picture they are hardly a story anymore.

The LAB leader appears to have been written off in the eyes of the voters including many of those who voted for EdM’s Labour in May 2015.

Conor Pope, deputy editor of Progress, has a good description here of the new thinking and new plan:

“..Inspired by the rise of Donald Trump, Corbyn’s team have determined that the lesson to learn from the defeat of Ed Miliband is that there is nothing to be gained from trying to appeal to traditional media outlets. Rather than trying to avoid negative press, they hope to make a virtue of it, and take a hostile approach to journalists who will not peddle a soft line. What the Guardian can’t, the Canary can…

…..the new comms policy is to revel in bad news, and the strategy devised after 16 months of leadership is a 1980s cliche nabbed from the first series of The West Wing, it is not quite clear what they will all have to do. Binge-watching the second series of The West Wing, maybe.

Still, the need for a relaunch does at least acknowledge that Labour is in a dire position, and that Corbyn is at least partly responsible. Polling indicates he is repelling previous Labour voters, and less than half of current Labour supporters think he would make a better prime minister than Theresa May.

Within the world of Corbynism, however, there is a growing belief that it is not necessary to win back the voters Labour has lost, but build an entirely new coalition of support…”

It’s that last point that I find hard. Where are these new voters who will see JC in the same light as his enthusiastic backers going to come from? A real issue is the demographic make-up of Labour/Corbyn’s current support. There’s is a very strong bias against him amongst the oldies – the segment of the electorate that is growing all the time as life expectancy rises and which, of course, is much more likely to vote.

No doubt we will be returning to this.

Mike Smithson