Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


The party whose leader has the worst LOTO ratings on record refuses to accept an anti-Brexit petition

Monday, February 11th, 2019

The Corbyn/Milne ambivalence with be remembered

A hour or so ago the anti-Brexit People’s Vote campaign sought to hand in a petition about the leadership’s stance at the LAB party HQ. What happened and filmed by the media might not, with the passage of time, look smart.

Simply to refuse it doesn’t look good especially on a day when it has been revealed that Corbyn’s letter to TMay on the party’s approach forgot. to threaten a referendum.

    This is a super sensitive issue and optics don’t look good.

All this follows a weekend when the biggest polling news was the collapse in Corbyn’s personal Ipsos-MORI ratings which, historically have been a better guide to general election outcomes than the voting intention polls.

Labour’s massive problem is that the leadership is out of step with the vast majority of those who vote for the party.

Mike Smithson


A Labour Twitter thread with a sting in the tail from Michael Crick

Friday, February 8th, 2019


In terms of influence on major policy developments Corbyn today is surely the most powerful opposition leader in decades

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

It’s possible the UK could end up with a Labour Brexit

To me the biggest development of the day was the response by Donald Tusk to the Labour proposal for Brexit. The details envisage a softer brexit then Theresa May’s plan but because of the numbers in the Commons there’s a good chance that this is what could actually be agreed.

If so that will be remarkable and something and it’s almost without precedent. Labour could claim that this was their plan and seek to get the political kudos from it.

Because this appears to be a viable alternative then surely it is going to make the hardliners of Moggsy’s ERG more reluctant to go on opposing Theresa May. They are not going to get their hard brexit and the deal that the Prime Minister has on the table could be seen as the best that’s available in the circumstances.

The question for Labour, which has had to deal with huge demands within the party for a second referendum, is whether what’s in their proposal will be enough to satisfy the party’s largely remainer voters, party members and MPs.

My sense is that it is becoming more likely that the UK will leave on March 29th making the odds of 27% on Betfair good value.

Mike Smithson


“Being seen to back Brexit worse for LAB than invading Iraq”

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Tonight ITV News is carrying a report that a private poll that has been seen by Momentum suggests that LAB seen to be backing Brexit would be worse for the party than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It is reported that it was commissioned by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) trade union. An analysis based on the polling has been shown to Momentum and the conclusions are worrying for red team. The ITV News report notes:

“A briefing paper based on the polling has been shared with leading members of the shadow cabinet, including John McDonnell, to increase pressure on Labour’s leader Corbyn to come out in favour of a referendum.

The most powerful conclusion of the research is: “There can be no disguising the sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Labour if it fails to oppose Brexit and there is every indication that it will be far more damaging to the party’s electoral fortunes than the Iraq war.

“Labour would especially lose the support of people below the age of 35, which could make this issue comparable to to impact the tuition fees and involvement in coalition had on Lib Dem support.”

The polling itself was carried out by YouGov.

That the party should be coming under pressure from the trade union movement is no real surprise and this could have been expected earlier.

It is hard to see the circumstances, though, where Corbyn changes his mind.

Mike Smithson


Labour’s Next Leader: Dawn Butler at 100/1?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

We need to learn the lessons of Corbyn’s wins

Identifying Labour’s future leaders used to be a relatively easy job, certainly when compared against the Tories. Gaitskell, Wilson, Callaghan, Smith and Brown were all clearly identifiable as strong contenders five years or more before they took on the job. Blair, at that same distance, could have been seen (rightly, as it turned out), as a future potential leader but not the next one. Kinnock and Ed Miliband were a little harder to pick but both were up and coming cabinet or shadow cabinet members at times when a generational jump was to be expected. Even Foot was a heavyweight, if one whose time, after Callaghan’s win in 1976, looked to have passed.

And then Jeremy Corbyn happened and the magic circle was forever broken. No longer was the shortlist restricted to a small number of cabinet or shadow cabinet members. No longer did popularity with and support among MPs matter. All that counted, once nominated, was the ability to appeal in the heat of the moment to Labour’s members and sign-up supporters.

Since then, the influence of MPs in the process has waned even further: the threshold for nominations has dropped from 15% to 10%, while new requirements for nominations from local associations and affiliated bodies have been introduced. Those changes favour both the left, who have a natural advantage among members, and also those with name recognition. Ironically, Corbyn himself might have found it difficult to be nominated in 2015 under the current rules as unions might have been unwilling to back what was seen, at the start of his campaign, as the traditional purely gesture candidacy of the Labour left.

However, Corbyn did stand and did win. Twice. Labour’s membership has clearly shifted far from where it was when it elected Miliband, never mind from where it was when it elected Blair (the future three-times election-winner took 58% of the Labour members’ votes in 1994). It’s possible that Labour’s membership is currently undergoing another seismic change with reports of a sizeable drop due to Corbyn’s equivocation and inertness on Brexit but Labour is being uncharacteristically coy in publishing numbers.

Not that any current drop in membership really matters. Even if members are leaving over the attitudes of a 1970s Eurosceptic, the next leader is almost certain to be of a new generation and the ‘registered supporter’ concept means that it’s a doddle for those people to take part in the next election, whether renewed member of not.

Which brings us to the question of who that might be. The only five potential candidates listed in the betting at less than 25/1 are Emily Thornberry (6/1), Keir Starmer and Angela Raynor (10/1), and John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey (16/1). However, I have my doubts about each.

Thornberry doesn’t seem that close to Corbyn and considering the prominence of Brexit, Venezuela and Russia as mainstream issues (not to mention other favoured Labour topics like the Middle East), the Shadow Foreign Secretary has made remarkably little impact, either in the media or in parliament. She has the appearance of a compromise candidate, which might have been an advantage in previous electoral systems but not this one.

Starmer is, by a country mile, the most administratively capable individual on Labour’s front bench and the only one I’d trust to run a department of state. What he’s not is a leader. He reverts too readily to being a capable barrister acting on instructions. I have little sense of what he stands for or what motivates him, if anything. In a leadership election, that would be fatal.

John McDonnell, by contrast, has no problem in saying what he stands for. His problem is a different one. If the vacancy, post-Corbyn, were caused by political factors (e.g. a lost election), what value would there be in electing McDonnell as successor, even if he does understand the mechanics of politics better than Corbyn? Even if Labour were to win and McDonnell become Chancellor, with Corbyn standing down in the same parliament and experience counting for more than it would in opposition, McDonnell would by then almost certainly be into his seventies.

As for Raynor and Long-Bailey, while I wouldn’t write their chances off, nor are they setting the political world on fire.

Which is not unlike how it was in 2015 and, as such, means we ought to keep more than an eye on other options. One that strikes me as extremely good value is Dawn Butler, who is widely available at 100/1 (the same as Richard Burgon, who should also be shorter, and Jon Lansman and Gisela Stuart, who shouldn’t).

    Why Butler? Primarily because she seems very close to Corbyn. To indulge in a little Kremlinology, she sits next to him at PMQs, despite her junior status within the shadow cabinet. That seating position is entirely Corbyn’s decision and shouldn’t be ignored as a triviality.

If Corbyn does endorse a successor when he retires – and I think a lifelong campaigner is likely to do so – and if the Party retains an attachment to the politics and the person of Corbyn by that point, such an endorsement will make a big difference. At the very minimum, it’s almost certain to ensure they gain the nominations necessary to reach the ballot paper. Butler could well get it.

Butler also has a key strength of her own: she clearly believes in what she’s saying. Never mind that what she says (and how she says it) might not be best designed to appeal to Worcester Woman; the next Labour leadership election isn’t about them. It’s about capturing the mood of the members and supporters by appealing directly to what motivates them. That takes a tremendous confidence, if not a little shamelessness – Butler can tick both boxes.

One other factor will play to her favour. In a Party where identity characteristics matter, Labour’s record of having only ever elected men as leader – and white men at that – is not a cause for celebration. The race card will be particularly relevant if the Tories have already replaced May and done so with a non-white candidate of their own, as is very possible.

None of this is to say that she will succeed Corbyn. It is, however, to say that her odds should be far shorter than the 100/1 currently on offer.

David Herdson


New YouGov leader ratings finds both TMay and Corbyn struggling with their voters from GE2017

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Getting on for half of GE2017 LAB voters view Corbyn unfavourably

Only minutes after I published the previous thread bemoaning the fact that we see very few leader ratings surveys in British polls up popped YouGov with its latest favorability numbers.

The main figures for Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are in the screenshot above. To my mind the most important cross-break is the party split from the 2017 General Election. What do those who voted for you last time now think? This, surely, is a good indicator of possible actions in a future votes.

Theresa May appears to be making heavy weather with 2017 Tory voters with a third of them saying now that they have an unfavorable view of the leader and the Prime Minister.

Her position, however, is not as bad as Jeremy Corbyn with those who voted for the party in 2017. Here just 47% say they have a favorable view of the leader with 44% saying they don’t.

Clearly things can change significantly between now and the general election as we saw in 2017 but, I’d suggest, that his numbers at the moment should be a cause for some concern. The 44% is a significant figure given that the first objective for LAB at the next election will be to retain those who voted for it at the last one.

Theresa May has, of course, told her party that she will not be leader at the next general election so in some ways this means that her figures are a bit less relevant. They are useful, though, for comparison.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s approval ratings fall from from a net minus 3% to a net minus 32% in just one year

Thursday, January 31st, 2019


By comparison TMay’ drop from a net minus 13% to minus 20%

One of the features of conventional British political analysis is that almost all the focus is on voting intention for an election that might not take place for another few years with hardly any attention being given to leader approval ratings.

This is so different from the US where leader ratings dominate the political polling narrative. I was quite impressed ahead of last November’s American mid-term elections how projections for seats in the House of Representatives were being drawn from the declining approval ratings of President Trump. They were right. Nobody ever tries that in the UK

We are not helped in UK because we get so very few regular leader ratings. The regular Ipsos MORI poll always includes satisfaction numbers in a form that has been asked since the 1970s. But that comes out barely once a month.

The one UK pollster that does regular leader approval ratings is Opinium which is generally putting out two surveys a month. The table above, prepared by David Cowling, shows what has happened during the past year during which, of course, Brexit has totally dominated British politics.

Looking at the table so there can only be one conclusion that the leader whose ratings have suffered the most is Jeremy Corbyn. From having relatively healthy numbers at the end of January last year that’s now got worse and worse as his net figures in recent months have regularly been behind Theresa May. Vince Cable ratings are very much affected by the number of don’t knows.

    My conclusion is that there was an immediate General Election then it would not be as easier ride for Mr Corbyn to Number 10 than many seem to think.

All the changes of government have been predated by the opposition leader having substantially better ratings than the incumbent Prime Minister.

Mike Smithson


Ahead of this afternoon’s May-Corbyn meeting the two leaders get warmed up with a spiky PMQs exchange

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

If we were to predict the outcome of this afternoon’s historic meeting face-to-face meeting between TMay and Mr Corbyn based on what happened at today’s PMQs it is hard to see this taking things very much forward.

But Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn have a joint interest for the country not to leave the EU on March 29th with No Deal. She cannot be certain of her CON votes and the complicated relationship with the DUP. This, on the face it, should put Corbyn in a stronger position.

The problem is, of course, is that the PM always has the divisions in her own party to think about and it is perhaps hard to see her going forward with whatever the Labour leader offers.

As has been commented on many times once you strip away the wording and rhetoric from LAB’s proposed deal and what Theresa May has there is very little difference in functional effectiveness. The UK would be still in the Customs Union in one form or another.

    The pressure on Corbyn is that he doesn’t want to see Labour’s fingerprints on a no deal brexit. If that happens he has to be able to totally blame the Tories for all the consequences. So far his ambiguity has actually not been an issue. Now that is changing.

No doubt later on this evening we will get reports from both sides of how they saw it going.

The BBC’s political editor, Laura kuenssberg, noted before PMQs started that both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May have reputations for not talking very much in meetings. Maybe it’s all going to be silence?

Mike Smithson