New party leaders normally enjoy a honeymoon in the polls. It’s noticeable for leaders taking over in opposition, on the relatively rare occassion that the party leadership changes hands in government the honeymoon is often remarkable. In the last fifty years there have been three previous occasions when the premiership changed hands between-elections:

  • Wilson-Callaghan, 1976. When Harold Wilson announced his resignation in the middle of March the polls were showing a Conservative lead of between two and five points. The polls immediately following Wilson’s resignation and during Callaghan’s first month in office showed Labour leads of between one and seven points, before returning to a steady Tory lead in May.
  • Thatcher-Major, 1990. Margaret Thatcher was famously removed by the Tory party in November 1990. In the month before the leadership election Labour had an average poll lead of thirteen points. In the month immediately following her resignation and replacement by John Major the Conservatives had an average lead of five points, peaking at 11 points. Over the next few months the polls settled down to an average Tory lead of four points or so.
  • Blair-Brown, 2007. The Blair-Brown handover was a more drawn out affair: Blair announced his resignation at the start of May 2007, when the Conservatives had a poll lead of around six points, and actually handed over to Gordon Brown at the end of June. Through July and August Brown enjoyed an average Labour lead of around five points, peaking in double-digit leads during the Labour conference at the end of September… and their rapid collapse afterwards. The Conservatives were ahead again by October, and remained so for the rest of the Parliament.

Every mid-term change of Prime Minister has been accompanied by a significant boost in polling figures – in the three historical cases, they’ve gone from trailing the opposition to a clear polling lead. The boosts have tended to be comparatively short though – Callaghan and Major only enjoyed a month or so before settling down into a new equilibrium, Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods. There’s no clear pattern as to where the polls settle after the honeymoon: I suppose it depends very much on the leader. Once the honeymoons had passed the change in leader didn’t make that much difference in 1976 and 2007 (in both cases Labour’s position absolutely tanked a few months down the line… but for different reasons), in 1990 though there was a long lasting improvement in Tory support.

So to the current polling position. Today’s ICM poll has topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 13(-1) (tabs are here). It follows on from an ICM poll last week showing the Conservatives ten points ahead, a YouGov poll giving the Conservtives an eleven point lead and an Opinium poll giving them a more modest six point lead. All four polls had Labour around or just below 30% and the Conservatives nearer 40%, UKIP down a little from the levels of support they’d been showing before the referendum.

Viewed together it certainly looks like the sort of boost a new Prime Minister normally receives, which is a good reason not to read too much into it. New Prime Ministers receive good poll ratings because they haven’t had to annoy too many people yet – the public can project their hopes onto them and convince themselves they really will be different, really will deliver this, that or the other. Before long, however, the shine will come off and they’ll have to start making compromises and disappointing people. This is one good reason for Theresa May not to plan for an early election (and the mistake Gordon Brown made in not shutting down such considerations) – the current polls look wonderful for her, but on past timescales they won’t necessarily be so rosy in a couple of months time. It’s also a crumb of comfort for Labour… though quite a small crumb.

UPDATE: YouGov have fresh voting intention figures that also show a strong lead for the Conservatives, albeit, not quite as big as ICM’s. Their topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here

846 Responses to “Leadership honeymoons and ICMs latest poll”

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  1. @Robert Newark

    “Anyway, in the meantime, people like Cambridge Rachel should consider joining the party that takes women in power seriously and has made one its leader for the second time in living memory, has brought same sex marriage onto the statute book, pioneered equal pay for the sexes back in 1972 and has quite a number of MPs and Ministers, from very ordinary, sometimes single parent, council house type backgrounds. Oh, and the Chairman of the party is an ex miner, nearly forgot.”


    Lol, wonderful campaigning list. But where’s the balance?? Is Rach or anyone gonna take it seriously without that? You could start with the impact on women of the cuts etc…

  2. Two things that are unquestionably played right down in Britain by our media. 1) The appalling treatment of Christians in Muslim countries. 2) The full details of the Russian army’s behaviour in the Ukraine. Killing, corpse mutilation, torture.

    Why is this? We do not have a left wing Labour government who wish to turn a blind eye to the behaviour of our Muslim brothers and their treatment of Christians. We have a Tory government. Our soldiers are expected to pussy foot around on the battle field and we must all treat Muslims with kid gloves. Why?

  3. Good evening all from a dull grey but warm lush Itchen Valley in rural Hampshire.


    “Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods”

    I think you’re being a little unfair to Gordy…after all he did save the World.

  4. A bad Poll for Labour.

    Whose fault is it ?

    Take your choice :-

    This :-

    “Fleet Street Fox argues what started as a movement to propel a quiet man to power has become a magnet for violent, unprincipled and self-aggrandising bullies body born of a wish for the world to be a kinder place cannot cope with well-targeted hate.

    Jeremy Corbyn is not about to shut down Momentum.
    But he should

    What started as a movement to propel a quiet man to power has become a magnet for violent, unprincipled and self-aggrandising bullies.
    They have damaged not only the reputation of Corbyn and forced him into contortions over his beliefs, but are killing the Labour Party.
    Labour is many things, but at its best it is a group of individuals who work for what they see as the greater good. It is often so painfully aware of its need to be thoughtful of everyone that it ties itself in knots.

    I cannot recall it ever being vicious.

    But when lifelong supporters feel they cannot be part of it, when children of migrants are accused of treason and ethics are ignored, then viciousness has entered the bloodstream.
    A body born of a wish for the world to be a kinder place cannot cope with well-targeted hate. Unless it is stopped, this parasite will eat its host alive.

    Corbyn, although not a shareholder or director of any of Momentum’s companies, is perhaps the only person who could do that.

    But he’s trapped. Without Momentum, Corbyn is nothing but a slightly mad old man with questionable dress sense and the stubbornness of a moth-eaten billy goat.

    Without those 12,000 psephologically-unimportant people, a worrying number of whom are ignorant, anti-Semitic, woman-hating bullies, he would have as much chance of leading the Labour Party as of winning a three-legged race on roller skates.

    That’s why despite knowing all the above Corbyn still talks to them. He asks them to be nice while allowing them to be awful, and lets them flush out and away all those millions of Labour supporters who find their tactics appalling.”

    Daily Mirror

    OR this :-


  5. ALAN
    A bloody site more than Labour ever has.

  6. The (unsurprisingly) large DK%s mean it’s not wise to read too much into May’s rating in that Scottish poll, but I’d say she should be reasonably pleased.

    Particularly that she’s not more widely seen as out of touch. For a very southern Tory who’s always held a very, very safe Tory seat and has a reputation as being unclubbable that’s quite a feat. Of course pro-independence voters are most sceptical on that score.

    Those high ratings for competence and strength might help her to sell a deal on the EU, but she’ll need to keep the three Brexiteers on a short leash if she doesn’t want her credibility undermined.

    Or , you could look at the policies that blew the wedge and caused the cuts. Oh I forgot it was the bankers fault. But, who designed the rule book to make the bankers comply = Gordon Brown.
    However, you will still have 15,000 excuses to protect that particular Labour failure.

  8. Carfrew
    “……You could start with the impact on women of the cuts etc”

    Aargh, you’ll be on about bloody boomers next!

    Actually,since you mention it yes TM was the first to take FGM seriously, instead of sweeping it under the carpet because it might offend someone.


    May is not plummy of speech. She is like wee Burney or Ms Davidson, serious, smart and comes over as genuine. She canna help being English, but she does not (yet) rile the Scots.

  10. SORBUS

    I think May’s okay approval ratings in Scotland are down to the fact that she went up to Scotland on her very first trip as PM to meet the First minister to talk about the Brexit vote. May has shown good leadership after the Brexit vote by visiting Scotland and NI who both voted remain and is taking their concerns seriously.

    However it’s early stages in her premiership and people (the majority of us) who voted leave will expect her to deliver on Brexit and as she put it….”Brexit means Brexit”

    “May is not plummy of speech. She is like wee Burney or Ms Davidson, serious, smart and comes over as genuine”

    Maybe so but Ruth Davidson is plummy in stature……I’ll get my coat. ;-)

  12. Allan Christie
    Mysoginist , Misodingist, Mysoginast, Oh sod it, you should not say those things.

  13. @ Colin

    Is Susie Boniface is now a reputable source?

    One the one hand I’m hearing, reading that these people don’t go to CLP meetings, and then I read that they turn up at all and shout down people.

    I read that they brick office windows (repeated by Boniface), and then I see a video that they did not, and also that the next office building was also bricked.

    Then I read that an MP’s office was illegally entered and her staff was abused, and then I learn that there was no illegal entry, and that she abused the staff. Under the instruction of the NEC she should be suspended from the party.

    I also read that Corbyn horribly underperformed at the box (who cares), but the abuser who shouted at him at the Chilcot debate is apparently still a party member, moreover the party’s MP.

    And yes, people are angry, and it seems they are getting angrier. Not a big surprise – it seems even when they are holidays, which is really sad.

    I wonder how I would have answered the poll … Voting for the LP? But which one? And what would be the outcome of this civil,war (is it that, or the second Balkan war rather, when the loser united with some of the victors against one of the victor?). How could anyone answer that I would vote for LP no matter what happens – but it is being polarised every day, and every time anyone opens their mouth.

    The LP is in a desparerate state, but it has nothing to do with Corbyn, Smith, Eagle, etc. The voting base has changed – or rather their perceptions and values – who would have thought that people who have never ever voted would come out in the NE and East Midlands), but of course, there cannot be a debate about that (and in the noise of sound bites produced for media consumption) and even if there was, nobody could hear it.

    There is a niggling thing though – Labour candidates don’t really lose in by elections – yes I know, the question is different, still.

    The real question why the PLP refused Corbyn from day one? They don’t seem to have any agenda. To me this is the biggest puzzle (Corbyn’s management skills are not an argument as it had happened before it could have been assessed).

  14. Hoi Roly….It’s misogynist and I’m no Owen Smith lol

  15. Roland Haines

    So Herr Schmuck, in that case will the “Labour Party” continue as they are? It does seem a bit far fetched that the internecine warfare should go on until 2027 when the Tories split over Europe (maybe).

    It’s quite possible. This has been going on for decades, albeit with slightly more discipline and decorum on both sides.

  16. Colin.

    You have an incredible ability to say exactly the same thing on every thread in dozens of different ways.

    I’m beginning to think you don’t like Corbyn…

  17. @Colin

    I don’t understand the exaggeration about alleged bullying in Momentum. I’ve heard the allegations, mainly by the usual suspects, but it doesn’t really stand up to a great deal of scrutiny. If Momentum is to be disbanded, so should Progress. It is alleged that Progress has initiated this civil war in the Labour Party as they want total dominance over policy. It is they that cannot countenance any opposition to their line, and it is they who seek to undermine every leader who won’t play ball. JC wanted a broader cabinet. The Progress lot refused to serve.

    In addition I know a number of people who have joined the LP in the last 12 months. Many of whom have never previously joined any political party. They don’t know a great deal about Momentum nor do they care. They have done it because the support JC’s direction.

    I also struggle to understand the point of Progress. Blair wanted to go further in privatising the NHS, Education and to further deregulate any remaining state industries. Progress support this. If Progress were in charge now the Labour and Tory parties would be indistiguishable.

    This is not to say that JC is a great leader. But the idea that becoming a Tory Party Mark II presents any future at all for the Labour Party, is quite frankly, nonsense. Presented with a choice with Tories Mark II or the real thing, right leaning people will choose the Tories. Labour has to be a left wing party.

  18. @ Colin

    Do we have any referenced events for (a)? Almost every story I’ve heard reported turns out to be either highly exaggerated or untrue. At the moment we seem to be looking at one brick thrown by one unknown person and a death threat arrest where the motives of the individual aren’t yet known.

    I’m sure if I checked back through the posts on this forum there was one from you in 1924 about how awful that Zinoviev letter was. Wouldn’t want you to get caught out again :-)

    As for (b) I think it is fairly obvious that a divided party up against a currently united party with a new leader is going to struggle (50% of which is documented by AW in his summary above). That is of course different from saying whether or not Labour’s performance at this years council elections was good/poor/average before recent events have overtaken things or whether Labour’s fortunes in future elections would be good/poor/average.

    I’ll admit that currently I don’t see Labour being electable in 4 years time and the divisions reflect badly on the Labour Party. The question though is one group within the Labour Party primarily responsible for the divisions? All the evidence points to the rebels upping the anti and making allegations (Officegate) most of which are eventually disproved.

  19. The BBC are reporting that Owen Smith got an excellent reception tonight from Labour members in his London speech.

  20. @Rodger

    The problem is that the PLP lack a group of people with enough clout and courage to actually split. When they started this I had thought that the PLP had a properly thought out battle plan, all the way through Corbyn getting re-elected as leader, but it seems they don’t. I find that very amateurish for people who are supposed to be professional politicians.

    I completely agree. The fact is that they hit the panic button following the Referendum, and thought they could force JC to resign. But, of course, he ( quite bravely ) called their bluff, and they were revealed to have no Plan B. Hence their dithering over forcing an election, again hoping he would crack, which he has not. Then Tom Watson offering deals, etc.

    All very unimpressive.

    Meanwhile, Cooper, Burnham, Benn, Starmer and Jarvis all sit it out, and let Owen Smith get hammered.

    Poorly organised , inept, and weak. There may well be a split, but you can’t really see the PLP getting their act together.

  21. Professor howard

    Was the BBC reporting how many were at Owens London do? The other day corbyn got 2000 at a do but the BBC thought that a do with Owen Smith that has less than a hundred was more interesting

  22. Allan C

    I agree that it was very sensible of May to make an early visit to Scotland and the visuals worked a treat for both her and Sturgeon. Not so sure that much of substance came out of the meeting other than whatever sense each of them got about how easy it would be to ‘do business’ with the other.


    Was the BBC reporting how many were at Owens London do? The other day corbyn got 2000 at a do but the BBC thought that a do with Owen Smith that has less than a hundred was more interesting

    To be fair Guido reported it as 300 – in a 900-seater venue:

    though judging by the photos it seems to consist mainly of Spads.

    By the way, what is it about Smith’s insistence on being backgrounded by young people holding up placards all the time? It always looks a bit desperate to me – especially when there then appear to be more people on the stage than the audience. Like a lot of establishment Labour campaigning it looks very old-fashioned, but not in a good way.

    Da Yoof are presumably there so he can somehow imply that Corbyn doesn’t monopolise the support of the young. But some of us have been pointing out for over a year that the whole ‘Children’s Crusade’ narrative about Corbyn’s backers is a myth and polling shows that his appeal is spread pretty much evenly across the age ranges[1]. I suppose if you think the media will treat you with adoration because you are Not-Corbyn, then you can get away with it. But these stilted, staged shots are always vulnerable wherever there is a cameraphone around (the entire surface of the Earth).

    [1] It drops off a bit in the over-60s, but then so does support for Labour generally.

  24. @David Carrod,

    The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is a decent piece of legislation, which tidies up and clarifies various previous laws related to the subject. It’s evolution not revolution though. Pretty much anything that is a crime under the new act was already a crime under some other act.

    On the whole, though, it is noteworthy that in amongst the heat and light and “most right-wing government ever”, “destroying the country” stuff that every Tory government in my lifetime has had slung at it, there have been a lot of decent and workmanlike bits of law that have emerged from Tory parliaments (although some turkeys too..)

  25. I think this poll is causing just a tad too much enthusiasm from RoC posters about the opinion polls. The whole thrust of AW’s article is that this is completely normal and to be expected and that the general rule of thumb is that the Tories will fall back and their opponents advance within a few months.

    Of course we live in Interesting Times so who knows what might happen. I suspect there will be a rough balance of bad economic news hurting the government and bad Labour party stories helping the government, and that May’s bounce may be modest but fairly lengthy.

  26. SVEN HS

    Um-I just asked a question actually.

    If you didn’t like it you could just ignore it…..

  27. RAF

    I just pointed out that there were twp opinions expressed on the cause of Labour’s OP VI.

    Momentum & the MPs.

    If I was a LP member & long time activist , I think I would be puzzled & concerned at a Leader who has a Separate Organisation-outside the Party as his support base. Even if I thought that the PLP acted precipitately & unreasonably at this time, I would begin to see Momentum as suspicious.

    But I’m not a LP Member ( or of any Party) -so my view is irellevant.

  28. I think Owen Smith knows he can’t win – he is just raising his profile, doing some good PR and laying the ground for the leadership contest that will happen after the inevitable Tory landslide in 2020 and Corbyn’s (and McDonnell’s) retirement. The ‘real’ general election will be the one in 2025 when the outcome of Brexit will have become all too clear.

  29. @Laszlo – “The real question why the PLP refused Corbyn from day one?”

    I don’t think it is, because I don’t think they did. Some MPs refused to serve under him which I think was wrong. He was elected as leader, fair and square, and they should all have done their bit.

    However, some of Corbyn’s supporters, including some very senior members of his team, have gone on record to say that there was a reservoir of goodwill amongst the Shadow Cabinet and much of the wider PLP, along with a recognition that Labour had lost it’s way and needed a new policy direction. It was Corbyn’s failures that lost this.

    Outside the PLP, we also have the sight of a number of world renown economists that agreed to serve as an advisory group to Corbyn resigning, citing his lack of interest and unwillingness to engage with them. We’ve also had a group of senior NHS staff working on a policy group for Labour expressing concerns that Corbyn is sidelining them and setting up a parrallel group of his own advisers. These are friendly and supportive experts outwith the PLP, who are saying exactly the same thing about Corbyn as many of those MPs who tried to work with him.

    I was extremely impressed with the way Corbyn gathered together experts in various fields to consider radical new approaches to policy, but one by one he seems to have lost them, and there has been no coordinated development.

    I would be happy to accept that PLP support for Corbyn was probably rather shallow, but there was support. However, Corbyn has also lost many of the non political supporters who were trying to help.

    I really don’t think his fans should dress this up as a conspiracy and pretend that Corbyn is a victim of ‘the plotters’. The truth is, if Corbyn was half as good as his fans say he is, the plotters would have continued to sit on their hands.

    His polling numbers going right back to the start have been dire and haven’t budged at all, and pretty much anyone who agreed to work with him walked away, so clearly something is wrong in Camp Corbyn.

  30. SHEVII

    @”I think it is fairly obvious that a divided party up against a currently united party with a new leader is going to struggle”

    Of course. And AW has highlighted the temporary nature of political leaders’ honeymoons.

    I was just pointing out that WITHIN the Labour fold there are two opposing views of the reason for the division you refer to & the Polling VI which-we presume-has resulted from it.

  31. So….. if the PLP decides to dispense with the Labour Party under Corbyn and strike out on it’s own, what name do we think might be viable?

    Social Democratic Party – The obvious choice, but already taken. However, the SDP that continued under Lord Owen was dissolved in 1990 but there are a few Brexiteers still using it for council elections. Could they be prevailed upon to give up the name? You might even get Lord Owen to come back into the fold, which would be a coup. He’s gone a bit more left-wing on some subjects (NHS for example) but he is a Brexiteer so I suppose it would depend on whether the splinter group wanted to make Europhilia part of its core sell.

    New Democratic Party – Well established name in Canada, although the Labour splinter would be well to the right of the Canadian party. However, it might provide a natural ally? And it’s a sort of “does what it says on the tin” name.

    National Democratic Party – Hmm, maybe not. Not for nothing is the NPD in Germany shunned as a neo-nasty outfit.

    New Labour Party – Again, an honest choice, but perhaps a bit shopsoiled. Wiki says the “Brand” was “retired” in 2010. Not sure if Labour owns any trademarks or anything, but seems a possible option.

    Centre Party – A well established name on the continent, and would more or less describe the situation exactly. Might upset the Liberal Democrats, but they seem to want to be well to the left of the centre these days.

    Citizens Party – Used in the USA in the past, and currently by a vaguely Blairite party in Spain.

    Progressive Labour Party – Lots of these around the world. Although maybe “Progressive” as a word belongs more to the Corbynistas than the Blairites.

    Any other options?

  32. Owen Smith was up here in Manchester last Friday. He was very good. I know people who voted Corbyn last time and are incensed by his intransigence/incompetence. I know folk who’ve coughed up £25 to vote for Smith…lets see what happens.

    I posted my view of JC and this went into moderation but AW said he couldn’t agree with me more. I am content.

  33. @Graham

    “There was very little sign of this honeymoon bounce inlast week’s 11 local by elections.”

    Nor should we have expected there to be. Local issues take precedence.

    Parliamentary by-elections are a better indicator. The Tories did poorly at the Sedgefield and Ealing Southall by-elections during the Brown Bounce of 2007, and subsequently enjoyed heavy swings in their favour in 2010 in those two seats.

  34. @ Raf

    ‘. Presented with a choice with Tories Mark II or the real thing, right leaning people will choose the Tories. Labour has to be a left wing party.’

    Good post. Such a relief to be on the same side :)

    I think the fact is that Momentum groups are not all the same… they reflect the sort of people living in an area and what local activism they are engaged on.

  35. I’m guessing that neither the Westminster PLP rebels, nor Momentum are of significant interest to the political cognoscenti in Scotland.

    So I wonder what the reason for JC;s ratings in this Poll are ?

  36. @NEIL A

    “Any other options?”

    Yes – the British People’s Party. That is wide encompassing and non-controversial.

  37. @ Shevii

    ‘ think it is fairly obvious that a divided party up against a currently united party with a new leader is going to struggle (50% of which is documented by AW in his summary above). ‘

    Thought that I should re-emphasise your point :)

  38. Tancred. The effects of Brexit may be becoming clearer by 2020. I don’t think Labour can win the next General Election but absolute!y consider they can turn in a respectable performance.
    All this talk of Labour dying is partisan stuff and nonsense.

  39. @ Neil A

    I may be wrong but I had understood that Tony Blair passed legislation preventing the word “Labour’ being used in the title of another party.

  40. @ Alec

    The motion on selection of MPs (and the whip’s control over it) is from mid October last year.

    That started with the same smear campaign as the current one, or any other (including Creasy’s lies).

    I know one of those senior economists – he has never turned up any of the meetings, not for the LP one, not for a smallish European country’s similar panel. I don’t know any theoretical economist who had any good advice (including Keynes, Friedman, Marx, Porter, etc) in their life. I have seen the slides one of these when advising Blair … Absolutely awful.

    These are not arguments for Corbyn. It is about the narrative.

  41. I really would urge people to actually look at the polls before prognosticating on what this latest ‘dramatic’ poll indicates.

    While the Corbyn camp are clearly stating that they were level before the coup and now 16% behind, this is wrong, and claiming that this is the fault of ‘the plotters’, this isn’t matched by evidence.

    Labour have had poll ratings of 30% or below every month since Corbyn took over. This particular poll is at the very bottom of Labour’s range in this period, but they have hit 27% before, in February, and have had several scores at 29% (none at 28, oddly). The poll score they have hit more often than any other is 30%, so it’s clear that this is a long term problem and to blame this only on the coup would be to delude oneself.

    Tories likewise are riding high at 43%, but while this is their highest score up against Corbyn, and a modest May bounce looks likely, they had 12 40%+ scores up to March, and of the 85 polls since Corbyn became Leader, Labour have led or been level in 4 and the Tories had double digit leads in 13, although it is fair to say that the lead fell back from March onwards.

    The polls have told a clear story of Corbyn’s Labour party being consistently well behind the Tories, with a slight narrowing due to a fall in Tory support while Labour VI remained pretty constant. This level of Labour support is nothing new, and is consistent with a long term very poor trend for them.

    Blaming this on ‘the plotters’ is I think unreasonable.

  42. @Valerie – I am with you, albeit £25 poorer.

  43. SYZYGY

    I may be wrong but I had understood that Tony Blair passed legislation preventing the word “Labour’ being used in the title of another party.

    According to the electoral commission website, there are currently six that do.

    The guidance does, though, say that parties can’t register names which might be likely to mislead voters; and there’s a list of specific words which can’t be used in conjunction with the name of an existing registered party. So, for instance, a new party couldn’t choose Independent Labour Party. This would make Keir Hardie sad.

  44. The British People’s Party is very controversial.

    It’s used by an off shoot of the National Front.

    The name was abandoned and has recently been picked up and registered to an off shoot of the Patriotic Socialist Party.

  45. Correction

    *it was used*

  46. Quite interested to see Smith’s manifesto commitments. War Powers Act, investment in named areas and a reworked Clause 4 to focus on inequality.

    Not much to dislike there, but it is notable the ease with which I can pick up what he actually wants to do, whereas when I listen to Corbyn, I hear the slogans but can’t ever seem to get to the hard policies, and that’s after a year of trying.

    I suspect that Smith would be significantly more popular with left of centre voters, if he got the chance and had the exposure, but he has a big hurdle to jump before that point.

    What I think will be interesting is to see how the unions react. Smith is talking their language, but doing it in a way that appears far more convincing and electable than Corbyn does. Now the campaign is underway, unions will be looking beyond the arguments about who started it and will be looking for the candidate who can deliver. I don’t really know what influence they have in the race, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see some unions come out for Smith.

  47. @ Alec

    You are right (I used my eyes rather than actually counting the results) about the polls. Labour, apart from the last month or so, has been where it was and perhaps the Conservatives put on a few percentages, but of course the methodological changes make most comparison very difficult (and these have been going on for some time).

    It is worth though checking if events triggered those large Conservative leads (I don’t have any doubt that they are ahead in the polls).

  48. Alec

    Smith isn’t credible, he has a constant air of exasperation about him, slightest bit of pressure and he’s going to blow his top, and he doesn’t believe what he’s saying

  49. From the local election coverage, notice the projected national share is lower for the cons than for Labour

    BBC projected national vote share (if the results were repeated at a general election): Lab 31%, Con 30%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 12%

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