Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


BMG finds just 2% of voters back Long-Bailey for LAB leader with 61% saying they haven’t heard of her’

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

And there’s little support for Corbyn’s claim to have “won the argument”

The main poll this weekend is by BMG for the Independent which looks at both the policy profile that would command support and views of possible replacements for two-time loser, Corbyn who led his party to its worst general election since 1935.

This, of course, is a general poll which is representative of the electorate as a whole and not Labour’s seleorate which will decide who the new person will be.

The party and union bosses choice for the party leadership, Rebecca Long-Bailey, comes out of this very badly with just 2% wanting her to get the job with 61% telling BMG that they’ve never heard of her.

The other potential runners don’t  come out well either with Starmer on just 9% with Phillips at 8% and Cooper 6%. Amongst LAB voters 16% went for Starmer Phillips 11% and Cooper 7%.

Being in opposition for nine and a half years makes it hard for LAB figures to be well known. Cooper was the best known at 60% followed by 55% for Thornberry, and 50% for Starmer.

On policy matters  the main thrust is that LAB should move to the centre ground with 46% saying Labour should ditch its general election line agenda on tax with 27% in favour.  Corbyn’s defence policy finds support from just 21%.

In the betting Long-Bailey is still favourite on Betfair with Starmer only just behind.

Mike Smithson


Labour’s last chance?

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

You can only play with fire for so long before being burned

Labour is rather fortunate. Rather than looking on at a mere disaster, its members and supporters could have been witness to the electorate having smote the ruin of a once-great party unto the dust.

Despite Boris Johnson having led the Tories to their highest vote share since 1979 – and their sixth successive increase in share, the last three in government – there was surely the potential to have polled even more strongly had the Tory leader had the confidence and ability to face media and public scrutiny. Margaret Thatcher would not have ducked an Andrew Neil interview, never mind hidden in a fridge. Perhaps for Boris, those manoeuvres were the right tactical choices but sceptical voters can’t have been impressed.

But the Tories can only ever be rivals to the Labour Party; existential threats must come from the left-of-centre. Outside of Scotland and Wales, that means primarily the Lib Dems. Over the course of the election campaign, the Lib Dems lost more than a third of their support, mostly to Labour. The last five polls before the vote for the early election all put the Lib Dems in the 18-20% range and Labour between 21-26%. Had that campaign-period swing not taken place then not only would Labour’s losses would have been far, far worse but the Lib Dems would themselves have made solid gains – and that swing was not guaranteed.

In the event, Labour ran a sufficiently dynamic campaign, while avoiding public infighting, to be able to claim the mantle of being best-placed to oppose the Tories and Brexit. They also ended up being the more moderate Remain option, despite the logical difficulties of their policy and Corbyn’s own position. The Lib Dems would have been better, in retrospect, to have maintained their Second Referendum policy, putting – and backing – Remain against Johnson’s deal. But without a stronger, more heavyweight leader, the Lib Dems would probably have suffered whatever their policies.

What the election did show was just how weak the bonds between voters and their party now are, outside a few ultra-safe areas, and how rapidly they’ve dissolved. This problem isn’t unique to Labour of course – the Tories’ EP election result shows a similar breakdown on the right – but it was they who suffered the worse this time. And the Tory Party in 2019 once again showed its willingness and ability to dump a failing leader; Labour demonstrated their inclination to protect theirs.

Where does this leave Labour going into the next parliament? Well, on the one hand, it has a field of opportunity. Johnson’s ratings took a hit during the campaign but he was given the votes both to complete a task and to keep Corbyn out. Both tasks are likely to be complete within a year at most. Unless Labour elects a similarly extreme and incapable leader (which given the membership and current Labour front bench has to be a possibility), he will not find votes so easy to come by in 2024 – if indeed he is still Tory leader by then.

Indeed, the Tories, having undermined their own voting coalition of generations in order to build a new one round the transient issue of Brexit will find their own base decidedly wobbly unless they can firm up Brexit into a wider values-based alliance.

However, oppositions will only be given so long to challenge a government, especially one that hits trouble. The 2017-19 parliament showed the strains within Labour but memories of the 2017 election must have stayed some hands that now wish they’d acted. If Labour does elect a new leader in the old one’s image, they will be playing with fire.

David Herdson


PB GE2019 Analysis: Corbyn’s Satisfaction Ratings at elections

Monday, December 9th, 2019

I’ve written before about Jeremy Corbyn’s personal ratings difficulties, and they did not improve in the following months.

In September and October of 2019, he racked up satisfaction ratings of -60, the lowest any Leader of the Opposition has rated since Ipsos-Mori started polling it in 1977 (snatching the record from Michael Foot). In October that came from satisfied a rating of 15%, the third lowest rating on record (narrowly losing out to William Hague in June of 1997 and Michael Foot in the summer of 1982).

In September he scored a dissatisfaction rating of 76%, which is comfortably the lowest on record since no other LotO has ever gone past 69%. Corbyn has had eight ratings in 2019, the first seven were the seven highest dissatisfaction ratings recorded (his best rating of 68% tied for 10th worst ever). In the latest results collected up to the 4th December he rated at -44 on 24% satisfied, 68% dissatisfied, which was a big improvement for him and the 19th worst rating ever recorded (only Foot and Corbyn have rated worse).

The caveat hanging over Corbyn’s ratings is that during the 2017 election he produced the greatest rise in personal ratings of any election campaign (rising alongside Labour’s poll ratings). His rating in March 2017 (the last one before the election was called) was -41. Shortly before election day he was at -11 (and peaked a month later at -1). Leaders of the Opposition normally show a gain in the four months leading up to an election, but Corbyn’s rise is on a different level to any other on record.

Corbyn’s gain of 30 points in net satisfaction is on a different level to any other gain in, the next highest was +16 in 2015 and 2005 (where unfortunately we don’t have a rating close to the election to see if the rise would have continued). Corbyn’s rise also happened entirely during the election campaign itself which takes it even further out in front.

Corbyn’s October rating of -60 was taken just before the election was called, so he’s starting from 19 points further back than he did in 2019 and had less campaigning time to work with. Here’s a fun table.

Which makes it appear that Corbyn isn’t having as good a campaign as last time, a week out from election day he is rating much lower and improved much less. But what that misses is that in 2017 Theresa May opted for a longer election campaign in 2017 than is taking place in 2019. If we centre the ratings around the date the election was called, we get a somewhat different picture.

Corbyn’s ratings are actually improving at about the same incredible rate as in 2017, but he’s starting from a much lower point and has nine fewer days to work with.

His ratings performance in both his election campaigns is hugely better than his (awful) ratings performances outside of them, but in 2019 he started in a much deeper hole with less time to climb out of it. It leaves him heading into this election with the worst ratings of any leader of the opposition in the last forty years.

Tomas Forsey

Tomas Forsey is a longstanding PBer who posts on PB as Corporeal and tweets as PBcorporeal


Jeremy Corbyn the modern day Harold Wilson or John Major?

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn came to the Labour leadership contest as an outsider and was elected as a revolution, a rejection of Blairite centrism and a return to socialism. It was a choice to try to find and rally latent support on the left as a path to victory rather than trying to occupy the centre-ground and the tactics of triangulation. It’s a decision that the Democratic party is wrestling with in their search for a nominee in an election that feels both a great opportunity and a huge risk.

If Corbyn has a sense of English irony he might reflect with some amusement that he has spent most of his time as leader trying to play the moderate dealmaker who will find a compromise between the two warring sides. Brexit overshadows all else as not only the most important issue but being mentioned twice as often as the next highest issue; the imminent general election seems set to go down in history as the Brexit election. 

This choice for a centrist path seems to have been born out of ideology before it was driven by strategy, Corbyn’s 40-year record on the EU and its forerunners has always wandered between hostile (mainly before he became leader) and lukewarm (as leader.) It’s a history that’s much in line with old Labour views, Labour supported remain in the 1975 referendum with a divided cabinet and the so-called ‘longest suicide note in history’ manifesto of 1983 (when Corbyn entered parliament) promised withdrawal from the EEC, to be completed well within the lifetime of the Labour government.

It took falling behind the Liberal Democrats at the European elections for him to move (or be moved to explicitly supporting a second referendum. It remains to be seen which major party benefits more (or is hurt less) by a Lib Dem revival, they are taking more votes from Labour but their previous general election success came through taking Conservative seats in South West England. Labour’s move to

Corbyn currently appears to be trying to model himself after Harold Wilson, who supported remain with more of a shrug than a shout, except with even less personal commitment. All of Labour is likely to be free to campaign whichever way they believe in a referendum, while Corbyn will wait for the party to make a decision that he can follow. It’s a position that rather unfortunately echoes Tony Blair’s shot at John Major (also beset by splits over Europe) for following his party rather than leading it.

Tomas Forsey

Tomas Forsey is a longstanding PBer who posts on PB as Corporeal and tweets as PBcorporeal


A new betting strategy worth pursuing?

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Don’t back Corbyn critics in seats they are expected to hold & back the Corbyn supporters in the seats they are narrowly expected to lose?

There’s a fascinating story in today’s Sunday Times

Momentum, the grassroots campaign group that backs Jeremy Corbyn, proposes on its online campaign map that canvassers travel to areas whose candidates are devoted followers of the Labour leader — even when the activists live in marginal constituencies where the party could win.

The campaign group says the map allows supporters to find “events in the marginal seat that needs [them] most” by entering their postcode or location.

However, an investigation by The Sunday Times has found repeated examples where this is not the case, raising the prospect that the tool is being used to prioritise supporting candidates who are sympathetic to Corbyn over winning seats at the general election.

In Scotland, Gerard Killen, — who resigned from Labour’s front bench in 2018 over Brexit and had a majority of just 265 — appears to have been abandoned as the residents of his constituency, Rutherglen and Hamilton West, were sent to aid the Corbyn-backing Hugh Gaffney’s seat, Coatbridge Chryston and Bellshill, where Labour has a majority of 1,586.

Other pro-Corbyn candidates also appeared to be being favoured on Momentum’s map last week. Supporters in 12 different constituencies were advised to canvass for Kate Linnegar in North Swindon, where the Conservatives had a 8,335 majority. Momentum is directing its supporters to help her despite the fact a YouGov constituency poll predicts the Tories will comfortably retain the seat.

Linnegar, who promotes Momentum on social media, has come under fire for sharing a Facebook post that said the anti-semitism crisis engulfing the party was a “smear campaign”.

Campaigners living in 11 constituencies were urged to canvass for Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt in South Thanet, where the Conservatives won by 6,387 votes in 2017.

Former MPs who have previously been deemed “hostile” to Corbyn appear to have support directed away from them.

These include Mary Creagh, who had a majority of 2,176 in Wakefield, and Emma Reynolds, who had a majority of 4,587 in Wolverhampton North East. The map does not direct supporters living anywhere in the UK to help either candidate.

The Sunday Times say this maybe down to incompetence than malice but still it will influence my betting outlook in the individual constituency markets. Corbynites who are at risk might be worth backing on the back of Labour’s resources being directed towards them and backing the party best placed to defeat Labour where the candidate is a Corbyn sceptic/critic (odds permitting of course.)

The longer term implications is that if this turns story turns out to be accurate then the Parliamentary Labour party will be more like Jeremy Corbyn than it has ever been which should impact on the next Labour leadership betting, a Corbynite succeeding Jeremy Corbyn, whenever he stands down, would seem inevitable.




LAB’s GE17 performance is misleading as a tactical voting guide because since then its reputation has been tainted by antisemitism

Friday, November 8th, 2019

There weren’t front pages like this before GE2017

So far the LAB GE19 campaign has been dominated by furious attacks like the one above from the Jewish Chronicle and nearly half a dozen candidates having to stand aside because they are on record as stated things that can be seen as anti semitic.

For the Labour party that is going into this election continues to be afflicted by impact of it and its leader’s actions on this form of racism. One thing’s for sure this isn’t going to go away before December 12th.

An area critical to the campaign where this looks set to impact is on tactical voting which Corbyn’s party is hoping to benefit from as it did last time as being the best option to impede Brexit. Then it ended with a GB vote share of 41%. The latest YouGov has that at 25% a whopping 16 points short of two and half years ago.

If you look over the polling in this parliament all was going well for Labour from June 2017 till February 2018. In that period it enjoyed leads in all or the majority of polls each month. Then came the Corbyn mural row which triggered off a raft of negative coverage on antisemitism which has continued.

This impacted on both the voting intention polls and the leader ratings for Corbyn which are now at a record low. Every single voting intention poll bar one since Johnson became PM has had CON leads

There’s a big fight currently going on between different sites on tactical voting – which party you should support in each constituency to give you best chance of defeating Johnson’s pro-Brexit Tories. One faction is keen to focus almost entirely on what happened at GE2017 when LAB was at its peak. The other factions focus on other more up to data which is less helpful to the red team.

The problem with the GE2017 baseline approach is that this wants to take you back two and a half years before the antisemitism issue emerged. The fact is that this has had a profound impact and it is harder to argue what happened in a particular seat on June 8th 2017 is relevant. Before the last general election the Jewish Chronicle wasn’t running front pages like the one above.

Mike Smithson


Labour’s fan club is far too confident: 10 reasons why 2019 may not be 2017-part-2

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

A recovery for Corbyn is no foregone conclusion; it may get worse for Labour

This is not a prediction as such. There are plenty of counter-arguments to the points I’m about to make, some of which will almost certainly turn out to be true. It would be equally possible to write an article with 10 reasons why the Tory lead may well slide again. All the same, to keep things simple, let’s keep the focus on this side of the equation (not least because that provides a consistent baseline against which we can later argue).

That said, before the election began, there was a lot of chatter among Labour supporters that everything would be all right come election night, just as it turned out to be in 2017. Of course, Labour did lose that election, finishing well behind the Tories in seats and votes and – crucially – failing to form the government (which is the only true measure of who ‘won’). But they did gain seats, put on a very impressive number of votes on 2015, and eliminate the Tory majority.

Can Labour do it again? It is of course possible – so many things are – but here are ten reasons why they might well not:

1. Labour is polling really poorly: worse than 2017

It’s true that there’s a lot of variation among pollsters at the moment but one thing they all agree on is that Labour’s doing badly. They’ve not polled top-side of 30% with anyone since before the European elections, YouGov had them at 21% this week and five firms reported them at 24% or below during October. Six weeks out from the 2017 election, Labour’s worst score was 24% and in the month before, only two firms had them sub-25; by the end of the month, Labour was mainly in the high-20s. The relative position is about two points worse – and that 2017 performance was the worst for any main opposition party.

2. Corbyn is also record-breakingly unpopular

What is true of Labour’s vote share is mirrored in Corbyn’s personal rating. Corbyn set a new record for any Leader of the Opposition in Mori’s 40+ year series, recording a net satisfaction rating of -60 in September – and then repeated the feat in the October poll. At the same point prior to the 2017 poll, his equivalent rating was -35. Other pollsters asking similar questions tend to find only 15-21% positive support, though the negative (and hence, net) figure tends to depend on the question and the options offered. But even his best figure with any pollster since April is still worse than that -35 score from 2017. The tweet-thread, from @james_bowley gives an excellent overview of how Corbyn’s rating has declined over the last 30 months.

3. Johnson isn’t very popular either but he still has a sizeable lead

This is perhaps a case of having your cake and eating it but there’s method in there. At the time Theresa May called the 2017 election, her personal rating (again, using the Mori series) was +19. Johnson’s is currently +2, which is itself a major bounce from his September score of -18 and presumably a significant part of the recent increased Tory lead. What this means is that Johnson will find it harder to fall as far during the campaign in the way that May did – especially as much of his support is based on Brexit, from Leave voters and little is likely to change on that front. He may have a lower ceiling but his support is probably stronger – which means Johnson is likely to retain a sizeable lead on the leadership rating question unless Corbyn can very substantially improve his score.

4. The campaign is far more likely to be dominated by Brexit than 2017

Two and a half years ago, Brexit was a distant prospect; now, it’s clearly not. The lines are much clearer between the parties and the deadline much closer. Voters are likely to weigh the issue more heavily (and indeed, going by ‘issues’ polling, are doing so). While other issues will get an airing – and Labour is doing its best on that score – the Tories, Lib Dems and Brexit Party all have an interest on keeping as much focus as possible on the EU withdrawal question, and that’s a question which Labour’s answer to is badly defined and easy to mock.

5. The Tory campaign is likely to be far better than in 2017

The Tories’ effort in 2017 is widely regarded as the worst election campaign ever. I don’t remember Labour’s 1983 effort but whatever the absolute ranking, it was a shocker. The PM and party leader hid in a cupboard, the manifesto couldn’t have been better designed to upset many key Tory voters, there was no properly defined campaign hierarchy leading to confusion, contradiction and a campaign strategy that became hopelessly misaligned with reality. We can reasonably expect that Johnson and co will not repeat these mistakes.

6. Corbyn is not as good a campaigner as he’s given credit for

Jeremy Corbyn’s reputation as a campaigner is based on three elections: the 2015 and 2016 Labour leadership contests, and the 2017 general elections. In the first of these, he won heavily against the odds; in the second, he won at a canter; in the third, he led Labour back from the brink to near-victory. Except a lot of that didn’t have much to do with him.

The Labour leadership contests were fought with an extremely favourable electorate to the far left. That few people noticed this before the election started doesn’t change the fact. Corbyn also benefitted from particularly lacklustre opponents. Then, in 2016, he didn’t actually do all that well. Against a lightweight opponent (unlike 2015), he only put on 2%. Had the votes from the third- and fourth-placed candidates in 2015 been redistributed to enable a like-for-like comparison, chances are his share would have declined despite an even more favourable electorate. And then there was 2017 which, as noted, the Tories helpfully provided Corbyn with a ladder to climb out of the hole that he himself had dug. The best that can be said for him is that he has an assured confidence that his strategy is right and he tends not to panic – which is a good thing unless the strategy isn’t right.

7. The Lib Dems won’t be talking about gay sex for four weeks

You might not remember the Lib Dems’ 2017 election and chances are they won’t want you to. They went into the election with 8 MPs and a poll rating barely out of single figures, and were struggling for any media attention. What little they did achieve was wasted when the leader, Tim Farron, a committed Christian, failed to give a clear answer on the sinfulness of gay sex – which resulted both in the issue dogging him for the rest of the campaign and also crowding out what little other coverage his party might have gained.

2019 is unlikely to see any sort of repeat. The Lib Dems have been on a roll since the European elections, having gained a host of MPs through defections and having more than doubled their poll share. With a distinctive line on Brexit and a willingness to attack Labour as well as the Tories, Labour cannot assume a clear field on the left-of-centre.

8. Scottish and Welsh Labour are doing even worse than in 2017

Scottish Labour had a catastrophic 2015 election and recovered only slightly in 2017, gaining six seats for a total of 7. That was with 27% of the vote. The last five proper Scottish polls for Westminster (i.e. not counting sub-sections of GB-wide polls), all have Labour below 20% – worse even than in 2017. On those figures, Labour is set for losses again in Scotland.

Likewise Wales. For so long a Labour fiefdom, that dominance now seems broken. The last two Welsh polls have placed the Tories first; the last three have had Labour at 25% or below (compared with the 49% they polled in 2017). The saving grace in Wales is that unlike Scotland, the opposition is fragmented: there’ll be no wipeout on these figures. All the same, the polling is very ugly.

9. Labour is more internally divided than at any point under Corbyn

One feature of the Corbyn leadership has been how tight-knit the leadership group around him has been since 2015. Despite the hostility of the PLP, defections, and poor poll ratings and elections (the 2017GE is the only real success: the locals, by-elections and Euros have been consistently bad), the group closest to him – both elected and appointed – have covered his back. But recently, divisions have begun to open up with rumours of a rift with McDonnell, the sidelining of Karie Murphy, and the departure of Andrew Fisher. Parties struggling in elections tend to turn on themselves and while Labour avoided that in 2017, the scope for it this year seems higher should things not begin to pick up.

10. Labour’s front bench is weak

The election cannot be fronted by Corbyn alone. He needs to be supported by his colleagues and with two exceptions – McDonnell and Starmer – they are not very effective media performers. The likes of Burgon, Long-Bailey or Abbott already have reputations for being gaffe-prone or robotic in interviews and several others are similarly weak. The extent to which Tory divisions and failures during the last parliament weren’t capitalised on is as good a measure as any. But in an election the media – social and mainstream – will happily make a story of a cock-up, which lightens the tone from the grind of the predictable.

As I say, there are counter-arguments as to why the Tories might do badly or why Labour can overcome these weaknesses. All the same, as PB’s Kieran Pedley put it the other day, Labour seems like a team which having been 3-0 down in last year’s cup final and ended up losing only on penalties, is far too complacent about being 3-0 down again in this year’s match. Their strategy is now clear on how to recover: repeat 2017 but bigger and better; ignore Brexit, promise huge spending commitments and wage class war. It’s a very bold gamble to talk about what you want to talk about rather than the electorate’s priorities when the people already don’t much trust you. Maybe it will work but there are many reasons to think it won’t.

David Herdson


All three main party leaders are in negative ratings territory with Corbyn’s numbers the worst

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Latest YouGov favourability trackers (FW Oct 23/24)

If you had followed the 2017 General Election only through the prism of leader ratings then the actual outcome with the Labour recovery would have been less of a surprise. For these were showing that Theresa May’s numbers getting steadily worse and that Corbyn’s were improving very rapidly in the run up to election. Indeed by election day Corbyn had jumped out of negative territory.

The ratings format I like the most and the one that tends to be be universal in the US is over favorability because there can be no ambiguity. Thus many non-LAB voters could honestly say they approve or are satisfied with Corbyn’s performance as leader but would view him unfavourably.

About 4 years ago YouGov started doing regular favorability ratings as a result of suggestions from me and have continued doing them to this day.

The latest numbers based on fieldwork that took place last week are in the panel above and as can be seen that in net terms Johnson and Swinson are about level. The latter suffers from being much less known and fewer people have an opinion of her.

Corbyn’s unfavourables continue to be very high and should be a serious worry for the party as it prepares to go into the campaign. His party’s hope, of course, is that we’ll see a repetition of the recovery at GE2017

In the next seven weeks there’ll be many voting intention polls coming out but relatively few leader ratings. My emphasis will be on the latter.

Mike Smithson