With the window for taking part in Labour leadership election closing and ballot papers going out there were several polls over the weekend asking about the leadership candidates, though no fresh polling of people voting in the actual contest. ComRes, Opinium and Survation all had polls asking about the general public’s perception of the candidates. While the polls weren’t presented that way, I’ve seen various people writing about them as evidence of which candidate would actually do better as leader. In particular the Survation poll had Jeremy Corbyn ahead among the public after they were shown video clips, so was taken as a sign that he may not be as damaging electorally as the commentariat widely assume.

Questions about how well different leadership candidates would do in a general election are always popular and sought after, but extremely difficult if not impossible to make meaningful. Asking the general public who they think would do better or worse is perfectly reasonable, but is a different question. Who people think would do better is not the same as who would do better, it’s just asking the public to answer the question for you and a poll is not a Magic 8 Ball. Asking the general public who they prefer doesn’t answer the question either, it contains the views of lots of committed Labour and Conservative voters who aren’t going to change their vote anyway, and preferring is not necessarily the same as changing your vote.

If you ask how people would vote with x, y or z as leader, or if people would be more or less likely to vote Labour with each candidate as leader then you are getting a little closer, but the problem is still that people are expected to answer a question about how they would vote with the candidates as leader when the general public know hardly anything about them. A fair old chunk won’t even know the candidates names or what they look like, the majority will have little real idea what policies they will put forward. None of us really know how they will work out as leader, what the public, press and political reaction will be, how they will really operate. How can respondents really judge how they would vote in a hypothetical situation with so little information? They can’t.

Some polls try to get round that by giving respondents a little more information about each candidate: a run down of their main policy positions perhaps, or in the case of the Survation poll a little video clip of each respondent so people could see what they looked and sounded like. This is better, but it’s still a long way from reality. It’s like the famous market research failure of New Coke – in market research tests people liked the taste, but release it out into the real world and people wanted their old Coke back. A video clip or a list of policies won’t factor in the way the media react, the way the new leader is reported, how they actually handle leading, the way their party and their opponents react. There is no really good way of answering the question because you’re asking respondents something they don’t actually know yet.

Is there anything polls can really tell us about how the leadership contenders would do? Well, firstly I think we can be reasonably confident in saying the polls don’t suggest any of the four candidates is any sort of electoral panacea, the most positive net rating in the ComRes poll is Andy Burnham and just 19% think he would improve Labour’s chances, 14% that he’d damage them (Corbyn gets more people saying he’d have a positive effect (21%) but much more saying he’d have a negative effect (31%). None of them have obvious election-winning magic like, say, Blair did in 1994.

They can also tell us some things about people’s first impressions of the candidates, something that shouldn’t be underestimated (people probably made their minds up pretty quickly that Ed Miliband didn’t look Prime Ministerial, for example, or that there was “something of the night” about Michael Howard. Those early impressions are hard to shift.). On that front the Survation poll is pretty positive about Jeremy Corbyn with people saying he came across as more trustworthy and in touch than his rivals (though such polls are always a bit tricky because of the choice of clips – Survation tried to iron out any potential biasing effect by having clips from each candidate being interviewed on the Marr show, so they were all interviews, all the same setting and same interviewer… but even then you ended up with two candidates defending their position on the welfare bill, one talking about the EU referendum and one talking about rail nationalisation. It’s almost impossible to do such things and have a truly level ground).

The argument against Corbyn isn’t about his personal image and manner though, it’s that he’d put the Labour party in a ideological and policy position that wouldn’t win votes, that the Labour party itself would risk ripping itself apart under a leader with little support among the Parliamentary party and a long history of rebellion. On individual policies I’ve seen Corbyn supporters taking succour from polls showing, for example, that a majority of the public support rail nationalisation or much higher taxes on the rich and drawing the conclusion that there is a public appetite for much more left wing policies. Be careful – look at this YouGov poll which shows a majority of people would support renationalisation of the utilities, increasing the minimum wage to £10 and the top rate of tax to 60%… but also a total ban on immigration and benefits for anyone who turns down a job, making life mean life with no parole in prison sentences and stopping all international aid. There are some policies to the left of mainstream public debate that are popular and some to the right that are popular, it no more means that the public are aching for a far-left political party than for a far-right one. Essentially you can pick a list of appealing sounding policies from almost any ideological stance, from far-left to far-right, and find the public agree with them. In reality though policies require trade-offs, they need to be paid for, they are attacked by opponents and the press. They are judged as a package. In terms of how well the Labour party would hang together under Jeremy Corbyn, polling of the public can’t really tell us – a poll of Labour MPs perhaps!

Bottom line? There is no way of doing a simple poll that will give you a ready packaged answer as to how well or badly a potential party leader will do, and the things that Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors worry about are not things that are easily tested in a poll anyway. My own guess is that those who think Jeremy Corbyn would struggle electorally are correct, though it does depend on whether the Conservatives also pull themselves to shreds after the EU referendum. I am a little wary about arguments about parties not winning because they are too left or too right. While putting yourself broadly where most voters are is sensible enough, those voters themselves don’t necessarily see things as ideologically left and right and specific policies aren’t really that important in driving votes. However, broad perceptions of a party, its perceived competence and the public’s views on how suitable its leader is to be Prime Minister are incredibly important. It will be an extremely hard task for Labour to succeed if it is seem as taking up a risky and radical route, if it’s trying to rebuild a lack of public confidence by selling an approach that is radically different from what a normally risk-averse public are used to, if it is seen as being riven by internal dissent and splits, if their leadership patently doesn’t have the support of its own MPs. Maybe he’ll surprise us, but I wouldn’t count on it.

On other matters, the ComRes poll also had voting intention, their first online VI figures since the election (rather to my surprise. Their online polls for the Independent on Sunday dried up during the election campaign itself and I’d wrongly assumed they’d come to halt as part of ComRes moving their phone contract from the Independent to the Daily Mail. I’m pleased to see I was wrong, and the ComRes/Indy on Sunday relationship continues!). Topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%, and ComRes have adopted the same socio-economic based turnout model for their online polls that they have started using in their telephone polls.


922 Responses to “Can polls tell us how well Corbyn would do in a general election?”

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  1. @Scotswaehea

    A post consisting of Labour Party press releases. However, I’m not going to answer as this is a polling site.

    However, the SNP do not pretend to be Socialist, they are social democrats and centrists, if they were socialists I doubt they could garner the amount of support they do. Scottish Labour’s best option, which I thought they would take when Murphy and McTernan took charge was to move to the right of the SNP, and paint the SNP into a left wing corner, with Corbin that chance is over.

    The only people that ever say ‘SNP are not Socialists’ are Labour folk, but Socialists that want independence can join the SSP (now part of RISE) or Solidarity. SNP are centrist social democrats and that’s where they need to be to get another Holyrood majority and to eventually get a Yes to independence.

  2. @ John Pilgrim,

    Dunno. I don’t feel any confidence in my ability to predict what the public reaction to him will be.

    A lot of voters are very stupid or very clueless and it’s clear from Twitter that he has won the support of some very stupid and very clueless people on the Left*. I genuinely cannot tell if this appeal could extend to the wider population of stupid, clueless people or not. That population is much more conservative than his current supporters, but it’s also very angry at Westminster and the establishment and he’s the most credibly anti-establishment politician in Parliament. I’m not sure how important policy really is to them. This will be an interesting test case.

    He’ll never win the votes of the intelligent, informed centre-right people because they care about Trident renewal, but there are a lot of voters out there who think “Trident” refers only to gum.

    My instinct is that they’ll still pick up the “unpatriotic whacko lefty professor” vibe around him and shy away. This is a major reason why I think Corbyn is a terrible figurehead for the Bennite revival even if Labour insists on trying the strategy again- they needed someone who comes off as more working class and who has less of an incriminating paper trail. But my instinct in May was that Ed Miliband would be leading a minority government and in my instinct in June was that Andy Burnham would be the next leader of the Labour Party, so what the hell do I know?

    * He’s also won the support of intelligent, informed leftwing people like Liz H, but we can be pretty confident there aren’t enough of those people to win a general election.

  3. @ Candy,

    Careful. Remember that your opponents are holding back at the moment

    Yeah, but admit it, you’re at least a little curious to see what they’ll come up with once they stop holding back. I mean, here’s what they’re churning out now:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3207363/Prime-Minister-Corbyn-1-000-days-destroyed-Britain-brilliant-imagining-Corbyn-premiership-reveals-Tories-gloat-Labour-s-woe-careful-wish-for.html

  4. @SPEARMINT

    Thank you but I am probably like most of the electorate who decides what kind of country I want to live in and which Party/Leader is most like to deliver that.

  5. @Spearmint

    That Daily Mail story is a London centric weird load of nonsense. The oligraths and premier footballers will leave – oh heartbroken.

    But, I will guarantee you that the Sunday after Corbyn is elected an anti-Corbyn story will be headlining. The Tories & MSM will spend a few weeks defining him and Labour as hard left loony nutters, and the low information voters will pick this up. It will be a long way back for Labour

  6. A Corbyn win will energise the left Parties in Europe and imo we will see either a move away from the Euro or an EU that will be unrecognisable from its current form.

    My last post went in to moderation because I think I used one word for the ‘left Parties’.

  7. @ Liz H,

    Clearly you’re not representative of the average voter, though, because the Tories just won a majority.

    Corbyn can’t to win on policy because the public don’t agree with him. So he’s either going to need a massive economic crisis so he can get a hearing to win the policy arguments- which could happen, but which is entirely outside his control- or he’s going to have to win on general ambiance.

    That woman who voted for Douglas Carswell in Clacton because “Our useless Tory MP has done nothing for years.” She’s our target voter.

    @ Couper,

    The Tories & MSM will spend a few weeks defining him and Labour as hard left loony nutters

    The Tories & MSM spent several months defining the SNP as innumerate idiots who wanted to destroy Scotland’s prosperity, and you now have 56 MPs and are polling at 60% for Holyrood. So you never know…

  8. The unexpected Tory majority in the last general election threw Labour into a state of confusion, from which Corbyn is now benefitting. Even if Corbyn is elected leader now, I’m not sure though he will lead Labour into the next election. Right now, the situation is pretty comfortable for the Conservatives, who are way ahead in the polls despite a slowing economy.

  9. Spearmint: I’m not so sure all is rosy in SNP land. For starters, falling oil prices put the entire economic rationale for Scottish independence into question.

  10. @ Mbruno,

    You’d think that, but it doesn’t seem to be causing them any trouble on election day.

  11. @Spearmint

    The Tories won a majority not because more people voted for them but because the left have splintered and more people have opted out of voting because there were very little differences between the Labour & Tory Parties. We need to attract back all the people who feel noone represents them. They will only come back if you offer them a real alternative. I myself have moved from Lab to Lib, back to Lab (bcos Miliband was offering a leftish agenda) but until Corbyn even I was toying with not voting at the next GE.

  12. “The Tories & MSM spent several months defining the SNP as innumerate idiots who wanted to destroy Scotland’s prosperity”

    Not sure about that. The key argument in the run up to the election was that the SNP were a mysterious force that would pull Labour’s strings. Most seem to think that it had exactly the intended effect, and shored up the Tory vote in the GE.

    If you expect Corbyn to have a similar effect in 2020, then I quite agree.

  13. @ Liz H,

    The Tories won a majority not because more people voted for them but because the left have splintered

    This simply isn’t true. If you add all the Plaid and Green and TUSC votes to the Labour vote share, the Tories would still be ahead in England and Wales. That’s completely discounting the pro-austerity votes for Ukip and the Lib Dems. And there’s no evidence whatsoever that non-voters are left-leaning.

    @ Bill Patrick,

    I meant in Scotland. The Better Together campaign doesn’t seem to have done the SNP lasting reputational damage- quite the contrary.

    Of course, the SNP have a nice nationalist grievance argument to draw on which Corbyn won’t have access to. But it’s still odd to see Couper of all people claiming the MSM will automatically be able to define an insurgent candidate to their liking. I think they probably will, but I don’t see how any of us can be certain at this point.

  14. @SPEARMINT

    This is where I join the ‘non intelligent’ voters because I simply don’t believe most people in this country wants the austerity that all parties were offering us or that it is needed. All the Parties and the media were telling us that we needed it to reduce our debt but the debt not only keeps going up but there seems to be no end to the austerity. Corbyn is telling us (backed by economists) that we don’t need austerity in its current form. The cosy little world of the Tories, Blairites and Orange Bookers are about to be broken up and that will win us the next election.

  15. I would be absolutely astonished if Corbyn could put together a narrative that would enable a pretty big coalition from the left to the centre. While the policies are fairly popular, the vocabulary is not used by a lot of the potential voters, and unless the thousands helping him right now maintain it till 2020, it is unlikely that it can find its root in people’s cognitive processes. Tsipras is not helping him either, nor do the developments in Spain.

    But Hawthorn’s point about the economy could change things.

    What I don’t understand is why is it a problem for the LP? why don’t they Nick policies from others that fit in the amorph concept of centre left if the idea is getting votes (Lenin did it with the distribution of the land basically on the night when they took the power).

  16. Spearmint,

    So your point is that a successful campaign to achieve A didn’t in fact do B? I agree.

    The SNP lost the referendum yet adroitly used that opportunity to present a principled and popular view of what they wanted Scotland to be like. They already had a fairly solid reputation for competance, something that Labour have presumably lost with their increasing perceived problems at running their own affairs, first in Falkirk, and now on a national scale.

  17. @ Liz H,

    Oh, I agree austerity is completely unnecessary. I just think that if Barack Obama can’t win that argument, Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to. But time will tell!

    @ Laszlo,

    They’re probably struggling to find good ideas to steal. It’s not just the Labour Party that’s in crisis; the centre left is falling apart all over Europe.

  18. @Spearmint

    I think it has become very apparent in the UK that the cuts and spend have been based on ideological reasons and nothing to do with reducing the deficit. I am very confident Corbyn will win the argument but as you say time will tell.

  19. I cannot see Corbyn not losing Labour another 15 seats or so in 2020.

  20. CMJ

    Good luck with that then-JC & the Young Ones :-)

  21. Jamie
    Is that based on any actual analysis or is just a feeling that Labour will do worse?

    The reason I ask is because even if you presume Corbyn will send some of the more centrist oriented Labour voters fleeing to the Tories (a big if) one must equally assume Corbyn will gain back at least some votes from the Greens (due to policy similarities) and UKIP (due to being anti establishment) thus really the way I see it Corbyn is at worst for Labour a zero sum game. He may be a repeat of 2015 all over again, a net gain of just one seat from the Tories, but losing an additional 15? Which seats do you think would switch to the Tories in 2020 after voting Lab in 2015 (leaving aside potential boundary changes because that complicates things)

  22. “Corbyn is at worst for Labour a zero sum game”

    That’s really your WORST case scenario for Labour being led by Corbyn? Not your estimate, but what you think would be the worst thing that could happen for them?

  23. ScotsWhaHae

    I agree with you that it would be relatively easy to outflank the SNP on the Left. SGP and RISE already do

    Of course, what you are looking for is a party that can appeal to Unionists who want to see the SNP outflanked on the Left.

    If that were LiS then would there be sufficient electoral gain to counterbalance the inevitable loss of Unionist votes to the Tories or Lib Dems?

    It might be possible to poll on such matters, but I don’t know of any good data that would support your policy change notion.

    It may be that you just wanted to do a partisan rant though, and feel better now you have got that off your chest.

  24. LizH

    “The cosy little world of the Tories, Blairites and Orange Bookers”

    Yes this world has started to unwind, Corbyn may be the beginning, he will certainly move the Overton Window and this will frighten the neo liberal economic concensus, which has been in place in the UK since 1994.
    However I do not think he will win a GE, as when you upset the establisment, all hell is let loose.
    As could be seen in the last weeks of the Scottish Independence Referndum

  25. CMJ

    @”It’s time we gave young people real stake in the political system, ”

    Young people of voting age get the same “stake” as old people of voting age-ie one vote.

    You are using “young people” as a euphemism- for Labour Activists. And by implication the unspoken “old people” in question are the PLP-or most of it.

    What Corbyn will give you is a chasm between the PLP & Labour Activists-with the latter in charge of the Party.

    Perhaps you & many Corbyn supporters believe that this is long overdue.

    But to equate the wishes of Labour Activists with those of Labour voters ( who outnumber activists by a considerable factor) might be a product of Corbyn’s youthful enthusiasm -rather than informed analysis.

  26. DEZ

    @”However I do not think he will win a GE, ”

    That was a bit of a let down after you were becoming so confident about the collapse of the ” neo liberal economic concensus”.

    Perhaps he needs to move the Overton Window a bit further?

  27. Spearmint
    “This simply isn’t true. If you add all the Plaid and Green and TUSC votes to the Labour vote share, the Tories would still be ahead in England and Wales. That’s completely discounting the pro-austerity votes for Ukip and the Lib Dems”

    UKIP is the key though, people didn’t vote for UKIP because they were pro austerity, hell in the run up to the election the only thing UKIP talked about cutting was the foreign aid budget. UKIP was an anti immigration, screw the establishment and a “I like Farage seems like a good bloke” type of vote. I know with an absolute certainty that some UKIP voters genuinely thought Farage was some type of revolutionary Che Guevara type character coming to save the working man (which we know isn’t true) So its never just been about the Greens or the Nats or the TUSC Red kippers are as if not more important.

    Also to the great surprise of many there are Tories (yes Tories) who might be inclined to vote for Corbyn’s Labour. Not everyone who votes Tory is a neoliberal Thatcherite, people have their own reasons and again I know for a near certainty that there are people who voted Tory in 2015 who would probably vote Corbyn in 2020.

    How many votes Corbyn can take of the Cons and UKIP, who knows? And will it offset potential losses in other areas again who knows? But there is a path for a Corbyn victory that doesn’t involve gaining a single non-voter (of which simple demographics and profiling suggest are primarily left leaning)

  28. Bill Patrick
    In terms of a general election result yes. I mean we could speculate on SDP style splits but I place that in a different and totally hypothetical ball park. If Corbyn leads Labour into a GE in 2020 and the party remains at least somewhat united (no mass defections of half the PLP to the Tories or Libs etc) and as long as the Tories don’t work some economic miracle and treble living standards this parliament, AKA somewhat business as usual in 2020 Corbyn will at worst be a huge let-down and make no progress. Talks of Labour going even further backwards are illogical and talks of wipe-out are nigh on impossible.

  29. Colin

    He might change the discourse, even this for some will be frightening.
    I am confident that the concencus has broken down.
    However the Conservative Party is the most pragmatic as can be seen after 1945, and if there is another depression, they will change to state intervention if required.
    If the Conservatives had been in Government in 2007-8, they would have bailed out the banks.
    They would not have let them fail , whatever they said in opposition about moral hazard.
    Only just before the crash they said they would match Labour spending,there was to much regulation in the financial sector and were praising the irish tiger.

  30. @Colin

    I am not in the Labour Party or vote Labour. I’m not a Labour supporter. Therefore I can’t truly be a Corbyn supporter either.

    There is already a mighty chasm between the PLP and the Labour membership. It’s a relationship where the PLP hold the whip hand.

    I think all democratic parties should have a membership that holds MPs to account more effectively, and not just treat members as leafleting fodder every five years. Activists are based on a much broader section of society than MPs. I would have party supporters have more influence, and corporate interests much less.

    The political system has given long patronage to people like Betty Boothroyd. As I feel the political system is fundamentally damaged, when the system is challenged (like JC is doing), people like Betty are in no position to offer advice.

    The changes I would make would scare mainstream politicians and the establishment to death. So when radical options are offered, and they start bleating, it is to be fully expected.

    Have you ever watched ‘V for Vendetta’?

    You’d get my drift.

    :-)

  31. @DEZ
    “However I do not think he will win a GE, as when you upset the establisment, all hell is let loose.”

    The wrath of the Establishment will be like water off a duck’s back as far as Corbyn is concerned. Just slinging mud as they have done to others won’t work because Corbyn neither responds, lets it affect him or change his opinion. They won’t know how to deal with someone who has been consistent, principled and honest. His supporters are fed up with spin, smooth PR types and accept Corbyn with warts and all. In other words he is a real person like them.

  32. Rivers10,

    The Tories lost 9 seats to Labour in 2015, all by small margins (in some cases of about 0.1%), Edinburgh South is hardly secure for Labour, the Lib Dems could well win back Burnley (4.1% swing would do it) and the Tories need a tiny swing to win Halifax, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Barrow and Furness, and Hampstead & Kilburn. That gives you 15 conceivable Labour losses right there.

    Is it sensible to say that 15 seats is the MINIMUM that Labour would certainly lose under Corbyn? No, but I’m not sure that’s an unreasonable likely estimate, anymore than “No change is”. There’s too many imponderables to rule out a number of scenarios.

  33. LizH,

    No one is doubting Corbyn’s popularity among his supporters.

  34. Dez
    I posted a fairly lengthy comment a couple days ago about an article I read and to sum up it up the article was saying that the neoliberal consensus will break because when the world took a shift to the right in the 80’s ending the post war consensus it was because the left was overly ideological and the right were innately pragmatic. Nowadays though there is a chance of reversal, the right is looking increasingly ideological rather than pragmatic. If the left can portray its policies as common sense, practical solutions to the worlds problems it could shift the Overton window leftwards and end the neoliberal consensus.

    There are signs that the consensus is breaking (Syriza in Greece, Sanders in the US, Corbyn here, austerity becoming increasingly rubbished by economists etc) I’m a bit more cautious in thinking it will end soon but I am certain that one day it will and when it does it will be because despite their claims of pragmatism the right (the Tories here in the UK) will shoot themselves in the foot by trying to rectify a situation with a neoliberal solution rather than take a more sensible left wing solution. This is what the left did in the 70’s. History will (as it always does) repeat itself….

  35. As Frederic Stanfield points out on the Tory targets page, current polls give the Tories about 20 Labour seats on a UNS. Is it really inconceivable that Labour might be less popular in 2020 than they are right now, regardless of who wins the leadership?

    I suppose, in general, I’m saying that people need to be less confident about what will happen in 5 years time. This time, 5 years ago, I thought that a Labour or Labour-Lib Dem government was all but assured!

  36. @Spearmint

    I said ‘Tories and the MSM’ maybe I should have said ‘Tories via the MSM’ Tories have very little power in Scotland that’s why their MSM smears don’t work.

  37. “History will (as it always does) repeat itself….”

    We all do, but which words? We have a Labour party in turmoil and the SNP riding high, so it feels like the 1970s in some ways, but I don’t see a shift to the left in the attitudes of the general public except on some issues like gay marriage.

    What has happened in the UK and the US is that a generation of left-wing activists and party members who have grown up in a climate where they can think of their parties as the natural parties of government have run out of patience with an old and dull Third Way establishment. In the case of Greece, that seems to be more a reaction to austerity than neoliberalism, but then again ‘neoliberalism’ is a fairly meaningless word that is a substitute for rigorous thinking.

  38. @Rivers10

    People might not have voted UKIP because they were ‘pro-austerity’ but the key point, surely, is that people weren’t motivated to vote ‘anti-austerity’. The reason is quite simply that austerity hasn’t directly effected all that many people. The people it has effected are mainly public sector workers (i.e. about 20% of the population) and it is in fact only certain parts of the public sector that have been particularly badly effected. Given that public sector workers were Labour leaning anyway it is reasonable to say that austerity hasn’t put many people off voting Tory at all.

  39. Bill Patrick
    I meant 15 seats lost to the Tories and not other parties but OK I’ll run with that list.

    Its not an unreasonable claim that the SNP are at their peak thus Edinburgh South is out of their reach, not to mention the Labour majority there actually increased. Also a Corbyn government might attract some of that SNP vote back.

    Burnley was quite poor for Lab because Birtwhistle was apparently a very active and popular local MP, if he doesn’t stand again the Libs will probably continue slipping backwards. Not to mention Labour will have incumbency next time.

    Hampsetad was the most marginal Lab seat in the country going into 2015 and Lab increased their majority there in spite of the resignation of their popular incumbent Glenda Jackson. Also the new MP Tulip Siddiq is already said to be a rising star so I imagine she’ll make a name for herself locally.

    Halifax also lost a popular incumbent which didn’t help and it was one of those seats (along with both Barrow and Newcastle under Lyme) where UKIP primarily hit the WWC Lab vote and the collapse of the Libs primarily benefited the Tories leading to the not unreasonable conclusion that those seats are only winnable by the Tories in REALLY good years.

    And the nine Lab gained in 2015. Well in all of them the Tories had incumbency (which still didn’t save them) and next time Lab will have incumbency. Not to mention that of the nine Lab gained all bar one are trending in Lab’s favour.

    I’m not saying its impossible for Lab to lose these seats I’m just saying that the conclusion of some seems to be that the population of these seats consists entirely of middle class swing voters who will abandon Labour in their thousands for the Tories if Corbyn wins when in actuality the demographics of swing seats is far more complex. Basically for every marginal Labour holds where they won on the back of genuine middle class swing voters who might flee to the Tories if Corbyn becomes leader there is another seat held by the Cons were Lab lost because the WWC vote that made up their core got eaten into by UKIP or the students and intellectuals they depended on got eaten into by the Greens.

  40. @BILL PATRICK

    As no Party was saying that there was an alternative to the ‘neoliberal’ way people voted for ‘conservative economic’ policies. That does not necessarily mean that people are economically conservative just that they had no other choice to vote for. Now we have a possible leader of a Party who is saying there is an alternative and he is backed by prominent economists so people have a chance to re-evaluate. This is why a shift to the left can happen and I think is happening.

  41. Jack Sheldon
    “The reason is quite simply that austerity hasn’t directly effected all that many people”
    Tell that to the people in the privates sector who lost their jobs, to the disabled, to the people on benefits, to the students, to those angry about the loss of local services.

    But I don’t want to turn this into a debate about austerity so instead I’ll address the point where you said

    “People might not have voted UKIP because they were ‘pro-austerity’ but the key point, surely, is that people weren’t motivated to vote ‘anti-austerity”

    Bingo!!! Really this is the issue, Labour didn’t unite the people against the government, without going into the different issues relating to the Nats and Greens in the case of UKIP Lab both allowed immigration to be the recipient of blame for people troubles, for example waiting times have gone up not because of government mismanagement of the NHS but because immigrants are clogging the system, your child can’t get into the local school not because of government cuts to education but because of immigrant children taking all the places etc etc.

    Also Labour allowed themselves to be tarred with the “they’re all the same brush” Labour said NOTHING that would persuade the average voter to get up and go vote for them. Far too many people angry at the government voted for UKIP instead because they though Labour would be no different.

  42. Re: austerity
    I presume by this people mean reduced government spending. If so, does any poster on this board personally know a single person who has been more than marginally affected?

    My pay rises were restricted for a few years, though they still exceeded inflation, and there are a few more potholes in the roads. Other than that, I’ve not noticed any austerity. I suspect there are many other voters who are slightly baffled and turned off by all the anti-austerity rhetoric.

  43. BILL PATRICK

    I think you are very wise to to be cautious about a Labour revival. Looking at the polls we have had so far since the election, and at the mess that Labour have made of the leadership election there seems every reason to expect an increased Tory majority next time. Very early days of course but I can see nothing to support some of thclaims made here recently.

  44. PETE B

    I see where your coming from but i suspect it depends where you you live. For those living in parts of the country very dependant on public sector jobs they probably feel differently.

    However in terms of voters I suspect the majority have suffered very little real austerity.

  45. @TOH

    I know your predictive ability in this place is without peer, but do you not think polling at this stage is utterly meaningless? (apart from keeping AW gainfully employed)

  46. TOH
    “However in terms of voters I suspect the majority have suffered very little real austerity.”

    That’s exactly the point I was trying to make. Whatever the realities, I don’t think there are many votes in ranting on about austerity because many voters are barely touched by it. Those who are affected are probably already left wing voters.

  47. River10

    Thankyou for the summary
    That is a good point .
    “, the right is looking increasingly ideological rather than pragmatic. If the left can portray its policies as common sense, practical solutions to the worlds problems it could shift the Overton window leftwards and end the neoliberal consensus.”

    However even if they do the Conservative party in the uk will change as History as shown.
    As Blair said in 97 to 2002 the Conservative party is not dead it was just sleeping.
    It then just followed the new Labour agenda on social reform , civil partnerships, minimum wage , bank of england independence, devolution etc after fighting everyone previously.
    It always follows change, very rarely making social change.

  48. [snip]

    Catmanjeff
    Agreed on current polling, its totally useless this soon after an election. Any major deviation from the election result is just an outlier. Nothing has happened at present that will both filter through to the public at large and shift public opinion in any meaningful way. We need to wait till Labour elect their next leader, the public learns who they are and we see some of the governments actions (popular or unpopular as they may be) Personally ‘m giving it a year before I bat an eyelid at a GE poll.

  49. @PeteB

    Quite

    @Rivers10

    I was a student for much of the 2010-15 period and will be again in a month or so. I can’t say austerity has had any noticeable impact on me, and I doubt it has for many of my contemporaries. Fees aren’t repaid until people are earning £21,000 a year anyway, and then very slowly, and there haven’t been cuts to maintenance loans. Of course living costs *are* a problem for students but that is an entirely separate issue from ‘austerity’. That students tend to be relatively more ‘anti-austerity’ than other groups is almost certainly the result of other factors rather than being directly effected themselves.

  50. Jack Sheldon
    Well we lost EMA, the new “living wage” doesn’t apply to us, and maintenance grants (which have now been scrapped and replaced with loans) where made less generous.

    But broadly speaking I wasn’t talking just about things relevant to students, I’m the victim of several cuts that have effected people of a myriad of ages.

    I agree students are not necessarily anti-austerity because it has effected them directly but I made a similar point awhile ago when I said the effects of this governments policies for the young will only be apparent in the next decade or so. When we have to actually start repaying our debts, realise that the job market offers no security, don’t receive the benefits that our parents used to help start their independent lives (housing benefit for example) can’t find anywhere to live without going into further debt etc etc we might start to really feel the effects then and it won’t be pretty.

    One thing that sticks with me is that in my last year of sixth form (2013) one of the teachers (who was assigned to helping us with our Uni applications) told me that she worried for our generation. That she’d been responsible for the sixth formers for 19 years and she’d never seen a year so downbeat about their futures as the last one, that was until she saw ours…

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