The Sun had fresh YouGov voting intention figures today, fieldwork conducted straight after Jeremy Corbyn’s speech. Topline figures are CON 37%(-2), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 17%(+1) – changes are since YouGov’s last poll in mid-September, just after Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Tabs are here.
The rest of the poll repeated some of the questions YouGov asked just after Ed Miliband became Labour leader, five years ago. Corbyn’s figures are worse than the ratings Miliband had at the time and as I wrote in relation to the Ipsos MORI poll earlier in the week, while Corbyn’s ratings aren’t that bad at first glance, brand new leaders normally get some leeway from the public, so they are bad when compared to the ratings new leaders have usually got.
YouGov also repeated the bank of party image statements they normally ask at conference time, testing positive and negative lines about the Labour party. The figures are (remarkably) close to what they were five years ago when Labour first entered opposition – 71% think Labour need to make major changes to their policies and beliefs to be fit for goverment (up 2 from 2010), 58% think they have lost touch with ordinary working people (down 1), 56% think they haven’t faced up to the damaged they caused to the economy (down 4), 44% think they care about helping all groups, not just the few (up 2), 39% think their core values and principles are still relevant (down 2), 42% think they would cut spending in a fairer and more compassionate way than the government (up 1).
The only areas* where there is a significant shift since 2010 are the claim that Labour are a party only for immigrants, welfare recipients and trade unionists (49% agreed in 2010, now only 42%) and the claim that if Labour returned to government they’d get the country into even more debt (47% agreed in 2010, 53% agree now).
Afrer five years in opposition, Labour don’t really seem to have made much progress at all in nullifying their perceived weaknesses. There is still an underlying strength in their brand – a large chunk of the public do think their heart in the right place, that they care about the many not the few, that they are more caring than the Tories. The big weaknesses though remain those negative perceptions about the economy and the belief they’ve lost touch with their ordinary supporters – the challenge for the next five years is to address those.
(*There was also a big shift in a question about whether Labour will be ready for a quick return to office after a short period in opposition. We debated whether to keep that statement from 2010, given Labour have now been in opposition for five years. We decided to keep it because it can still make sense if you interpret it as being a short period from now, but given we’re assuming people will interpret it differently I wouldn’t really compare 2010 and 2015 on that one)