Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


Hard to see how insulting key groups of voters helps LAB’s cause – but hey, the Gammon insulters don’t seem to care

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Mike Smithson


‘Peak Corbyn’ is a myth providing false reassurance to his opponents

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Last week’s local elections were underwhelming for Labour, writes Keiran Pedley but that does not mean Labour is heading for defeat.

As the dust settles on the 2018 local elections, it is clear that Labour did not hit the heights that they hoped to hit. A very strong showing in London offset somewhat by a frustrating lack of progress for the party in the rest of the country. The projected national vote share produced by the BBC suggested a tie, with a share of 35% each for Labour and the Conservatives (Rallings and Thrasher on the other hand gave the Tories a one point lead). A full recap of the results can be found on last weekend’s Polling Matters podcast at the end of this post.

Several leading elections analysts have shown why this result does not bode well for Labour’s hopes of winning the next General Election when it comes (see Matt Singh here and Steve Fisher here). The basic premise being that opposition parties producing the sort of performances that Labour produced last week do not go on to form governments.

History provides an ominous warning for Corbyn’s Labour party then. So how worried should they be?

Well, on the face of it, ‘very worried’ and there are signs that people within Labour are too. An internal Labour Party report, leaked to The Times today read “Overall these results are slightly worse than 2014 and nowhere near the level that oppositions have recorded before winning general elections.” The report goes on to say that, “Labour will need to improve significantly in the non-metropolitan marginals to have any realistic chance of a majority in a future election”. Public polling provides little solace for Labour either. A YouGov poll published on Thursday has the Tories 5 points ahead with May leading Corbyn on who would make the best PM by 14 points.

So all in all, not a lot of good news around for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. These numbers have prompted some commentators to ask the question of whether we have reached ‘Peak Corbyn’? The idea presumably being that 2017 represented something of a high watermark for the Labour Party under his leadership that is now receding. In short, denying the Tories a majority in 2017 is as far as it goes for Corbyn. He will never be PM.

This may yet to turn out to be true but I think people are getting ahead of themselves by asking this question now. We have a long way to go. I wonder whether a lot of journalists and politicians that never thought Corbyn could win, or cannot reconcile themselves with the prospect, are lulling themselves into a false sense of security based on only a partial analysis of the current political situation. Put simply, the numbers look bad for Labour now but there are reasons to believe they might change in the future.

The problem with the ‘peak Corbyn’ analysis is it places far too much weight on past precedent and nowhere near enough on the political context of the time. The Tories may cheer last week’s local election results and their lead in the polls but the future may not be so rosy. There are still some fundamental facts of political life that they have to contend with. Firstly, they are a minority government negotiating Brexit – the biggest issue of our generation – with no consensus on what they want to achieve and no idea if the E.U. will give it to them.

Secondly, the next General Election will likely be fought by someone other than Theresa May and it is not remotely clear how a Tory leadership contest plays out or if the eventual winner will be any more effective at holding the party together or more popular in the country than May. Finally, politics in Scotland continues to look volatile and it is not certain that Ruth Davidson can sustain her heroics north of the border that kept the Tories in power in 2017 – though of course she might. The point is that the Tories face several major political hurdles this parliament, all in the context that the smallest of swings against them next time will leave them unable to form a government.

None of this necessarily means that Labour will win next time either. Indeed, a Labour majority government looks as far away as ever and the current numbers should be a cause for concern in the party. Nevertheless, we saw how volatile public opinion can be less than a year ago when Corbyn’s Labour dragged a hung parliament out of the jaws of a landslide defeat. The political conditions of our time are unpredictable. For the Tories to get through Brexit negotiations and a leadership change in one piece will be some achievement. If they do not manage it, then public opinion could look very different in a couple of years to how it looks now. Therefore, the idea that we have reached ‘Peak Corbyn’ feels very premature with a fair amount of wishful thinking thrown in for good measure.

Keiran Pedley

Listen to the PB / Polling Matters local elections recap below.


How Corbyn’s LAB compares with predecessors on local election performance

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

The above chart was published earlier by the Lib Dem blogger Mark Pack who has compared the LAB party shares in all local elections while in opposition going back to Jim Callaghan’s time.

It doesn’t make comfortable reading for those JC supporters who seem to think that their man can do no wrong. For all their noise on social media the chart is pretty clear – Corbyn is even below Miliband on this metric.

I publish this here because of the extraordinary effort and extraordinary claims that some of the leader’s most enthusiastic supporters seem to be making to prove JC’s electability.

Mike Smithson


LAB supporters are deluding themselves if they think an anti-CON rainbow coalition would automatically back Corbyn for PM

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Corbyn’s poor leader ratings highlight the weakness

Ever since general election seat projections like the one from Sky above have appeared LAB supporters and Corbyn enthusiasts have been saying that last Thursday the party won LE2018 and if it had been had a general election then Corbyn would be the one being called to the Palace.

This is based on the unfounded and somewhat arrogant assumption by LAB that all the SNP, LD, PC and GRN MPs would simply line up behind Corbyn to form a workable government to stop the Tories.

There are two things wrong with this: there’s a lack of understanding of what drives other parties and LAB’s current leader has little appeal outside.

The LDs have had their own bitter experience of coalition and it is hard to see them backing LAB while Corbyn is equivocal on Brexit and there’s still the stench of antisemitism hanging over his party. How Labour responds to some upcoming Brexit votes in the commons could muddy the waters for years to come.

    Also leadership polling has consistently shows that LD voters are more hostile to Corbyn than to TMay. Thus the latest Opinium finds 18% of current LD voters saying they approve of Mrs May but only 9% say the same of Corbyn. Even at peak Corbynania last August LD voters were two to one against JC

There’s little love lost between the SNP and LAB and Nicola Sturgeon would surely want a huge concession from Corbyn on constitutional matters in exchange for its backing.

We’ve also got to ask whether Corbyn, given the difficulties he has demonstrated managing the coalition of interests that is the Labour party, has the skills to build and manage a group of other parties. I’d suggest he hasn’t and would find it difficult making the compromises to get and retain support from other parties.

Mike Smithson


Has Labour lost its momentum?

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Are we past Peak Corbyn or was LE2018 just a bump in the road?

You can tell a lot about how well a party has done by where a leader goes to celebrate their election victories. Theresa May (no doubt unwittingly) re-emphasised her caution-first nature by travelling all the way to Wandsworth: a council the Tories have held since 1978. She could have gone to Nuneaton, where the Tories stripped Labour of a sizable majority (unlike Wandsworth, where it was the Tories losing seats), or to Redditch, Barnet or Basildon – but she didn’t.

Vince Cable, meanwhile, visited the wealthy Remain bastion of Richmond-upon-Thames, where the Lib Dems stormed to a tremendous win; one which by itself accounted for around one-third of their entire national net gains.

But the party HQ which must have had most re-planning to do was surely Labour’s. After ramping up their chances of taking Wandsworth and Westminster, they failed to take either. He could have headed for the former Tory northern jewel of Trafford but instead he headed off to Plymouth. That wasn’t an unreasonable choice – it was Labour’s only direct gain from Con this week – but that fact alone indicates Labour’s failure to move forward significantly.

And moving forward is what oppositions should be doing if they hope to win power at the next GE. Granted, Labour came very close to winning power last year but not only did they not do so but in relative terms, they went backwards on Thursday.

If you match their score against 2014, when these seats were last fought, then the 35-35 level pegging in this year’s national equivalent vote was two points worse than the Lab 31 Con 29 shares last time round (Labour is rather fortunate that a heavily disproportionate number of seats contested this time were in London, where it’s doing better than average, meaning that despite going backwards in the NEV, it ended up with more gains than the Tories). Labour was also two points ahead (37-35) in 2011 and one point ahead in 2016 (31-30), both one year into the new parliament.

Fervent Corbyn supporters will claim (and are claiming) that these historic parallels count for little, in the light of the extraordinary gains made by Labour during the last general election campaign. There’s an obvious truth that no measure of current opinion can accurately predict future elections – because minds do change between the poll and the actual vote and, in the case of local elections, because people are frequently voting on a different basis compared with a general election. Even so, the last two oppositions that went on to win a general election were to be doing much better one year into the parliament. Cameron led the Tories to a 13-point win in 2006, while in 1993, John Smith’s Labour was eight points up.

All of which begs the question: has Corbyn’s bubble burst? Is Labour incapable of turning those hundreds of thousands of members into new, additional votes, despite what ought to be opportune circumstances for an opposition?

As yet, the evidence is inconclusive. We do know that they made a difference when it really mattered last time – but is that a new rule or an aberration? What we do know is that the next election will be fought under different circumstances, with different levels of media coverage, different expectations and probably with a different prime minister and Tory campaign team. That should be enough uncertainty to place substantial question marks on both sides of the equation – but more so on Labour’s

David Herdson


Polling analysis: Corbyn is a liability to Labour while TMay has returned to being an asset to the Tories

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

The YouGov favourability trackers are just about the only polling where we can compare leaders with their parties on the same basis. The same question is asked in exactly the same form to the same sample whether people have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of CON/LAB/TMay/Corbyn.

It is also a tracker which is asked in the same form at regular intervals which means there are enough data points to examine trends.

The movement in the leader and party ratings since the general election was called just over a year ago is shown in the chart above. As can be seen Theresa May was doing better than her party but went behind after the election. Only in the past few weeks is she doing better again

    The Corbyn and Labour party figures have been consistent over the time period. Labour Party has always been viewed more favourably than its leader a situation that remains.

In the chart the unfavourable figure is subtracted from the favourable figure to give a net number in each case for each data point.

All this rather undermines the notion that is often heard by his supporters that it was Mr Corbyn rather than the party that gave the red team a better than expected result last June.

Mike Smithson


Fewer than 3 in 5 of GE2017 LAB voters prefer Corbyn as “next PM”. Maybe the magic of last June is evaporating

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

YouGov VI: CON: 43% (+3) LAB: 38% (-2) LD: 8% (-1)

There is a new YouGov poll for the Times which has the Tories moving to a 5% lead compared with the level pegging that they had a week ago.

The fieldwork took place at the start of the week and before the Windrush issue really caught hold as a big media story.

A finding that should concern LAB is that of those who voted for the party on June 8th last year fewer than three in five (58%) say they prefer Mr Corbyn as PM.

This has been declining steadily since the general election when it was in the 80s but to drop below 60% is really quite striking. Generally most people respond to this in polling question in line with their party choice.

No doubt Corbyn’s enthusiastic backers will try to attack the pollster and the poll but there can be no doubting the trend. After the election 80%+ of GE2017 LAB voters chose Corbyn with YouGov.

My main caveat over the polling is that the fieldwork took place early in the week before the Windrush affair was dominating the media narrative. There’s no doubt that that was bad news for Mrs May but we haven’t seen any numbers to support it.

It is a Saturday and we could see some other polls in the Sunday papers.

Mike Smithson


LAB might now be back level pegging in voting polls but Corbyn’s leader ratings should be a cause for concern

Friday, April 20th, 2018

His handling of the antisemitism issue might be driving this

The above the data comes from Opinium the only pollster which does at least a monthly survey of leader approval ratings which means that we have sufficient data points to identify trend. The last numbers were from fieldwork last week before Tuesdays antisemitism debate in the Commons which got a lot of very negative coverage ad helped to deflect a little from Mrs. May’s Windrush problem.

What is striking is the very big difference we have with the leader numbers and the trend in voting polls which have very much been stable over the last few months.

The chart of surveys since the election last June shows an initial boost for Mr Corbyn who went into positive territory. Then there was something of a decline followed by these latest numbers which might be down to the ongoing row within the Labour Party on its treatment of antisemitism.

What we do know is that if we’d been following the leader ratings rather than the voter poll movements before the last election the result would have been less of a shock. Corbyn’s were improving and May’s declining in the run up to polling day. It was the same at the 2015 election when although the voting polls were relatively level Ed Miliband trailed badly on the leader ratings.

In fact in all recent elections when the voting polls got it wrong the leader ratings were better pointers.

Mike Smithson