Labour’s performance in polls and in mid-term elections has become a political football – not just the usual rather routine spinning of parties saying how well they are doing, but a key faultline in Labour’s internal leadership battle. A key argument of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics is that he is an electoral liability – therefore they highlight anything suggesting that Labour are doing badly. In contrast Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters brandish anything that can be presented as a sign that Labour are actually doing well.

Which side is right? A lot of what both sides say is exaggerated or unfair. Some of it is just downright untrue. For what it’s worth, this is an attempt to unpick the evidence and look at it as fairly as I can. I expect, therefore, that this piece will not make anyone happy. It’s not going to say that Labour polls are the worst for any party ever, nor that Jeremy Corbyn is actually the messiah. It’s also quite long, so if you’re hoping for either of those conclusions, perhaps give it a skip.

Labour in the polls

Polls in August so far have shown Labour between 7 and 14 points behind the Conservatives. However, this is probably not a fair yardstick to judge them upon given Theresa May is enjoying a honeymoon in the polls. A more reasonable point of comparison is to go back earlier in the year, before the EU referendum. Between the March budget and the EU referendum there was an average Conservative lead in the polls of three points.

There have been frequent claims that Labour were equal to (or even ahead of) the Tories before Labour’s leadership troubles erupted. This is a disingenuous claim at best, and seems to rest wholly upon cherry-picking individual polls. There was a single Survation poll straight after the referendum result that had the Conservatives and Labour equal, but an ICM poll conducted at the same time had a Tory lead of four points and the average position at the time was a Tory lead of about three points. At no point this year have the polls ever shown a consistent Labour lead (and the last poll to show Labour ahead was in April).

votingintention

A typical opinion poll has a margin of error of +/-3%. That means if the actual position is a Tory lead of about three points, then random chance will sometimes spit out individual polls showing Labour neck-and-neck or even just ahead, or, at the other extreme, showing Tory leads of six points or more. Anyone seeking to honestly describe the state of the parties cannot reasonably just pick one of those outlying polls and claim it reflects the actual picture, ignoring the wider average. The only reasonable way of judging support is to take an average across many polls.

So, if Labour were on average 3 points behind the Tories, would that be good or bad for an opposition? The typical pattern of opinion polls is that oppositions open up leads in mid-term polls (so-called “mid-term blues”) and then governments recover as the election approaches. Obviously this does not always happen, but opposition parties that go on to win the next general election have usually opened up towering leads in mid-term polls. Oppositions that have not secured large leads in mid-term typically get hammered at the subsequent general election. On those grounds, an opposition that’s still three points behind mid-term is heading for disaster.

However, there’s an important caveat… oppositions that go on to win almost always have big leads mid-term. But that doesn’t mean they have big leads throughout the whole Parliament. In the first half of 2006 David’s Cameron’s Conservatives only had a lead of 2 points or so; in early 1975 the Conservatives were still behind Labour. In contrast, in early 1980 Labour had a healthy lead over the Conservatives. How well or badly a party was doing in the polls this early in the Parliamentary term is really not much of a guide as to how well they will end up doing at the next election – too much depends on the performance of the government in power and what triumphs and disasters fall upon them over the next three years.

Where the polls are more alarming for Labour is some of the underlying questions. Labour were ahead in voting intention throughout most of the last Parliament, but were behind on economic competence and leadership, which are normally seen as important drivers of voting intention (the ultimate explanation of this apparent paradox was, of course, that the voting intention polls were wrong). If we look at economic questions and leadership questions now Labour’s position looks bleak.

On who would make the best Prime Minister Theresa May leads Jeremy Corbyn by 58% to 12% with YouGov, by 58% to 19% with ComRes. YouGov currently give the Conservatives an 18 point lead on running the economy, when ComRes last asked in March the Tories had a 16 point lead. Looking at MORI’s long term approval trackers Jeremy Corbyn’s net approval rating is minus 41 – already pushing at Ed Miliband’s lowest of minus 44 (and those depths took Miliband years). Corbyn’s favourability rating in ComRes last week was minus 28, worse than everyone else they asked about but Trump.

Labour at the ballot box

The other way of measuring support are mid-term elections. Just like opinion polls there is a typical pattern of oppositions doing well in mid-term contests and then falling back come a general election. Oppositions that scrape wins in mid-term normally go on to lose the following general election; oppositions that go on to win have usually crushed the government mid-term.

Local elections

The results of the 2016 local elections were spun for all they were worth by both sides within Labour. Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn made much of Labour failing to gain councillors in 2016, but in fairness this was because Ed Miliband had already won the low hanging fruit when those wards were last contested in 2012. There were some social media memes claiming Corbyn did well in the local elections in 2016 because he got a higher share of the seats contested than Blair won in 1995 or Cameron won in 2006 – this is misleading because a different group of seats are up at each set of local elections (Blair’s first local elections in 1995 were the all-out district councils, including lots of Tory territory; Cameron’s first in 2006 were largely London and the Metropolitan boroughs, so were on very Labour territory).

The fairest way of judging local election performance are the national equivalent shares of the vote calculated by Rallings and Thrasher – indeed, that’s the whole point of them. The Rallings and Thrasher figures are a projection of what the result would be if there were local elections across all of Britain, an attempt to even out the cyclical differences and make one year’s results comparable to other year’s results.

At the 2016 locals the R&T projection was CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 14%, UKIP 12%; a one point lead for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters have presented this as a sign of Labour doing well, on the grounds they beat the Conservatives. The TSSA have presented it as positive because it is a four point swing from the R&T projection of support at the local elections in 2015.

These claims are flawed. Looking at historical comparisons, Labour’s performance in the 2016 local elections was pretty mediocre compared to previous oppositions. The graph below shows the main opposition party’s lead over the government at mid-term local elections since 1981.

localelect

It is normal for the opposition party to win local elections mid-term and a lead of just one point is a pretty poor result comparatively. It is not, as some of Corbyn’s detractors have claimed, the worst local election performance for decades (Ed Miliband’s Labour did a little worse in 2011 and William Hague did significantly worse for the Tories in 1998) but it is the sort of local election performance heralding failure at the next general election. It’s the same lead that IDS got for the Tories in 2002, hardly a happy precedent.

As with voting intention polls, if you look at oppositions that went on to win the next election, they won mid-term local elections hands down. Cameron and Blair both consistently secured double-digit leads at local elections. Oppositions that were roughly neck-and-neck with the government in local elections (like Labour in 1984, 1988 and 2011, or the Tories in 2002) went on to be defeated at the following election.

In summary, the local election performance from Labour this year is not the unprecedented disaster Corbyn’s opponents have claimed – others have done worse – but neither is it in any way positive news. It is a mediocre result, with far more in common with those oppositions that have gone onto defeat than those oppositions who have ended up winning the next election.

Scotland, Wales and London

On the same day as the local elections were the elections to Scotland, Wales and London. These were a mixed bag for Labour – in Scotland they were again crushed by the SNP and trailed behind the Tories in terms of seats; in Wales they largely maintained their position, losing a single seat; in London Sadiq Khan won the mayoralty from the Conservatives. On the face of it this is one bad result, one mediocre result and one good.

Labour’s position in Scotland is dire, but I think it unfair to blame it upon Corbyn: the way politics has changed in Scotland since the referendum is probably beyond the control of any Labour leader, and it began long before Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Wales is a devolved assembly where presumably many voters would have been passing judgement upon Labour’s performance in governing Wales – though the results were pretty middle-of-the-road for Labour anyway.

In London it is difficult to know how much voting patterns are down to the party and how much they are down to the politicians running for the mayoralty – was it a victory for Labour, or for Sadiq? Either way, the result is somewhat less impressive that it looks. In the first round, Sadiq Khan was nine points ahead of Zac Goldsmith,typical of other recent London elections: in the 2015 general election Labour came top in London by 9 points; in the 2012 London assembly election Labour won by 9 points. The anomaly was the 2012 mayoral election, when Boris Johnson won through some combination of his electoral appeal and/or Ken Livingstone’s lack of it. London is now a Labour-leaning city, and winning by nine points is just repeating what Ed Miliband managed in 2015. That’s not to be snooty about Sadiq Khan’s achievement in winning the mayoralty back for Labour, but it doesn’t indicate any gain in support since 2015.

By-elections

The final bit of electoral evidence offered is Parliamentary by-elections. There have been four by-elections so far this Parliament and Labour won them all. However, all four by-elections were in seats that were already held by Labour at the 2015 election – three of them by extremely large majorities – so this is again not a particularly positive sign. Governments sometime lose mid-term by-elections, but it is the norm for oppositions to retain their seats in by-elections and nothing to get excited about.

Finally there are local government by-elections – including the bizarre case of Jeremy Corbyn citing a local parish by-election gain in Thanet. Citing local council by-elections is normally a festival of cherry picking – there are a handful or so each week and results vary wildly, so it is simple to pick out only those that paint a positive picture for a party. For example, in the three by-elections last week Labour’s vote dropped by between 7 and 11 percent, the week before the change in the Labour vote varied from a 7 point drop to an 11 point gain. If you take an overall view of Labour’s performance they seem to be holding their own, but not making any significant advance – of the 164 local by-elections so far this year (up to August 11th) Labour have made a net gain of 2 seats.

How deep is the hole?

Looking at Labour position in voting intention polls and their performance in actual elections since 2015 their position is poor rather than terrible. Putting aside Theresa May’s honeymoon bounce, running a few points behind the Conservatives is far from good, but better than the sort of horrific polling that the Tories endured in the nineties and early noughties. These are not the polling figures of a party on course to win the next general election, but neither do they point to imminent extinction.

Equally, while attempts to spin Labour’s mid-term election results as positive are unconvincing, so are claims they are uniquely terrible. They are on a par with the performance of the opposition under Iain Duncan Smith or Ed Miliband.

In terms of public support Labour’s current position is poor, but not exceptionally so. Should the Parliament run until 2020 there would normally be time for them to turn things around. The problem is how they do it. Labour’s polling on underlying questions like leadership and the economy should be far more worrying for them – their ratings there are terrible. Furthermore, for as long as they are hamstrung by internal fighting, there is no obvious way for them to improve them.

The purpose of this article isn’t to apportion blame – when a leader is at war with the MPs is it the leader’s fault for failing to lead, manage and win their support, or is it the MPs fault for failing to back the leader? It takes two to have an argument. I’m also deliberately not suggesting Labour would or would not do any better under Owen Smith (given how little known Smith is to the general public I am deeply sceptical about any polling evidence along those lines… besides, we don’t know what would happen with the left of Labour and all those new members if Jeremy Corbyn was removed)

My own view is that Labour’s current position in the polls is poor, but that it doesn’t show the full extent of their problems. Polls are, as ever, only a snapshot. They could get better… or they could get worse. What happens if Labour’s internal warfare drags on for another four years? What happens if there are defections, deselections, a split? How does Labour put across its message with most of its known faces refusing to serve? How on earth would Labour fight an election in this state? The root of Labour’s problem isn’t with the wider public, it’s within itself.


319 Responses to “How badly is Jeremy Corbyn doing?”

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  1. Small correction – the 1995 elections weren’t the county councils (they were 1993/1997) but they were the year in the cycle when the English non-metropolitan all out councils were up – which means the seats us were skewed towards rural England. (Almost all the councils that elect by thirds are urban)

    [Thanks David – AW]

  2. AW

    Very nice piece of work and good conclusions

  3. Even before the brexit vote I thought there was a strong chance of a serious economic event before 2020. In some ways the brexit vote hasn’t done labour any favors in that regard as any economic crisis can be blamed on brexit rather that previous govt policy. Also removing Osborne from the front bench breaks the economic connection of the May govt with the Cameron govt.

    But seeing as the recovery such as it is has been driven by the same levers as before I can’t see anything but a similar outcome. The Uk is still driven by debt fueled consumer spending and ever increasing house prices, with an added complication that our current account balance is widening rapidly. 37 years of thatcherism still hasn’t cured the British disease of a negative trade balance and as we decline as an oil producer becoming more and more a net importer this will only get worse, thankfully oil is relatively cheap at the moment.

  4. The elephant in the room is almost certainly going to be the joint questions of leadership and unilateral disarmament.

    Its only in a general election that these will dominate all else: in all other elections they are either irrelevant or just a side-issue.

    Come 2020, or perhaps sooner if a general election both suits the Tories and can be engineered, then, if Corbyn is still leader, the prophets of doom will be seen to be right.

  5. R&D

    Wow :-)

  6. The post is a fair assessment of the situation, I think.

    The plot chart is particularly useful to visualise the dance of the MoE.

    Thank you, Anthony Wells.

  7. Can Labour dig their way out of this? Well, it’s not unprecedented. The Canadian Liberal party fell to a nadir of 19% of the vote in 2011, but is now back in power. But it wasn’t easy for them. They had the dual benefits of a hugely unpopular incumbent, and a very popular and media savvy leader.

    Labour may well get the former, but they also need the latter. I think it’s pretty clear that Corbyn is no Trudeau in terms of media management.

    But I also suspect that right now if the Labour Party did have a Trudeau, a tiny vocal group of Labour MPs would be briefing the press against him because they wanted their guy in charge of the party instead.

    I suspect that Labour might need to hit rock bottom before they can rally around someone who has the right order of precedent for ideology, party and nation.

  8. What this demonstrates most graphically is that is really does not matter in the short-term who the leader is/going to be. Scotland don’t give a toss and will not until the SNP have fallen out of favour. Wales are begrudgingly sticking with Labour for now but are prepared to consider Plaid (or even the Tories) if things don’t start to move along for the better. Of course, England is the battleground with all the fair-weather centrist voters.

    Surely the only recourse Labour has is rather than squabbling over ideological direction present a tightly unified front. The new politics of Corbyn has been presented as an anthema to this though in that ‘authentic’ means that mistakes will be made and be made public. This approach is no way going to bode well to convince voters that Labour is ready for Govt.

  9. By what measure was Labour behind in the 2011 local elections?

    [All those local election figures are the Rallings & Thrasher National Equivalent Vote. In 2011 the shares were Con 38%, Lab 37%, LDem 16% – AW]

  10. Many thanks to AW for a neat summary of the evidence.

  11. Great stuff Anthony-bullshit destroyer.

  12. Laszl

    “R&D
    Wow :-) ”

    Yes, it was a jolly good post wasn’t it? Especially when you consdider that little Daisie typed it it with an injured hock [ligamnet damage from chasing a rabbit.]

    Luckily it was her non typing paw.

    Rosie.

    By the way, the post was based on polling evidence of the importance of leadership and national attitudes to unilateral nuclear disarmament, not just personal opinion.

  13. ENIGMAJX

    Good points.

    There are some contradictory evidence about the “united front” – there is evidence for both the fluidity of voters across parties (within limits, of course), but also the hardening of the party affiliations in the last few years.

    There is absolutely no doubt that Labour is nowhere, not only in polling, but also in capability, to be ready for government (just the opposite, I would have thought). Which raises an interesting question – would a relatively clean slate change it (a large influx of new MPs, who can then campaign without much burden of the past). The only such examples are from landslide victories, and I don’t really see it on the cards.

  14. @R&D

    Welcome back Paul!!

    How’s the flute goin’?…

  15. CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    Re Trots fpt, you could do worse than listening to Mark Steel’s Russian Revolution on the iPlayer.

    Both funny and fairly accurate historically, it’s only half an hour but also only available for 5 more days.

  16. BZ

    As I understand it, Trotsky was the enemy of Stalin which puts him on our side, which is good!

  17. CAMBRIDGERACHEL @ AW
    Very nice piece of work and good conclusions

    Well put.

    Trotsky was the enemy of Stalin

    Yes, but I really do suggest you listen to Mark Steel’s interpretation of the relationships between them and Lenin. Even if you disagree with him I suspect you’ll find it amusing listening.

  18. Enigmajx

    “Scotland don’t give a toss and will not until the SNP have fallen out of favour.”

    A rather harsh judgment. :-) But, I agree that “England is the battleground” in terms of the Labour Party gaining a majority in the UK HoC, in order to govern England.

    In which case looking at GB polling or election results is of little help.

    For example, in the latest YG poll, the GB Tory lead over Lab is 7% – but in England & Wales it’s around 13%.

    The fate of SLab lies only partially in the outcome of the Corbyn/Smith struggle.

    The less publicised war between the “British” and “Scottish” orientated factions within SLab is probably more important, if ELab wants SLab MPs, instead of SNP (potential allies) or SCon (certain enemies).

    Sunday’s article from influential SLab commentator, Simon Pia, may give a flavour of the Scottish side of things for anyone interested.

    https://simonpia.com/2016/08/15/labour-must-embrace-radical-change-on-independence/

    “Scottish Labour cannot afford to do nothing. It must embrace radical change.”

  19. Oh nooooo…..

    Red Tory accusations in 5 4 3 2 … :-)

  20. Good, balanced, piece though. It will never catch on.

  21. Matt

    AW is a blue tory, but a mild one I suspect

  22. @ Rosie and Daisie

    How are you? Good to see you posting :)

  23. On Ilyich, Trotsky and JVS there is a short book, well, it is in the title “Kratky kurse” – the Boshevik Party’s history, short course :-). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in disagreement with the curriculum laid out in this textbook :-)

  24. It’s quite possible that the SNP might fall out of favour with much of the Scottish electorate and yet Labour don’t end up as the main beneficiaries, e.g. voters might head towards the Greens, the Tories, or even the Lib Dems. Labour’s unpopularity at Holyrood by 2007 did little good for the Scottish Tories, and their loss of popularity in 2005 didn’t do much for the Tories as a whole.

    In a non-bipolar political system, waiting for the other side to mess things up is a terrible strategy.

  25. Oldnat
    ‘in the latest YG poll, the GB Tory lead over Lab is 7% – but in England & Wales it’s around 13%.’

    I don’t think that is correct – or at least I can find nothing in the latest YouGov survey showing voting intention for England & Wales as a whole.

  26. AW
    Labour’s position in Scotland is dire, but I think it unfair to blame it upon Corbyn: the way politics has changed in Scotland since the referendum is probably beyond the control of any Labour leader, and it began long before Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

    All true, but also perhaps worth mentioning that most MSPs who have voiced their opinion have been of the pro-PLP wing, which includes their one MP who quit the shadow cabinet. The deputy Scottish leader is pro-Corbyn though.

    The pro-PLPers are particularly against the “electoral alliance” front mooted by some. They also have a huge test coming up in 2017 with the Council elections taking place throughout Scotland. Of late, SLab have been much more likely to ally with SCon than SNP.

    Wales also have national Council elections in 2017, which may also need some thought. They’re still via the plurality system, so alliances might be much more important than in Scotland, where STV simply means an alliance could recommend that each voter supports their own party’s candidate from 1 to n and votes for party B from n+1 to xxx.

    OLDNAT

    Thanks for the interesting and surprisingly enlightened Pia link.

  27. Anthony has – as always – provided us with a fair overview of Labour’s recent performance. I note that he he is relying on the elastic sense of ‘mid term’ in that many would suggest that ‘mid term’ does not really arrive until over 18 months into a Parliament. On that basis, it will not arrive in this Parliament until we enter 2017!
    Interesting – looking at the Local Election results – to see that under Corbyn Labour did better than under Kinnock in both 1984 and 1988 as well as Milliband in 2011.The performance also matched Labour’s 2014 results.

  28. William

    YG doesn’t show and E&W number – but it can be calculated approximately by excluding the Scots sample..

    The pattern is quite normal. For comparison, in the latest ICM poll, the GB Tory lead over Lab was “only” 16%, while in England it was 21%.

    That’s why I say that it is inappropriate to measure the size of the mountain that Labour has to climb, if you include the Scottish data. Combining the data from different polities is unhelpful when trying to estimate what is happening in each of them.

  29. @Greenies

    As you know, the tricky part of renewable energy is storing the surplus for when wind isn’t blowing etc., so potential storage tech. is useful. Latest I’ve seen is in this week’s New Sciemtist, where excess heat energy is stored in big Vats of salt, salt being good for absorbing heat.

    When you need the energy back, you pipe water through the vat which gets turned to steam to drive a turbine. (Notably, this reduces the use of pricey batteries with toxic chemicals and rare earth elements and deterioration due to charging cycles etc.)

  30. Oldnat

    The YouGov survey giving the Tories a 7% lead is very close to the 6.6% GB winning margin in May 2015..
    Despite their disastrous 2015 performance in Scotland Labour still lead the Tories there by circa 9%. This poll, however, gives the Tories a 2% lead over Labour – ie 18% to 16%..In England alone – excluding Wales – the Tory lead in 2015 was circa 9.5%. Surely it must follow that if the GB Tory lead is pretty well unchanged Labour must be doing a bit better in England given that they appear to have ceded ground to the Tories in Scotland. Including Wales would help Labour further – so logically I find it difficult to see how Labour can be 13% adrift of the Tories in England & Wales now given that their deficit in England alone was just 9.5% last year. To repeat , this is all assuming that the GB margin is effectively unchanged from 2015.

  31. Great work on the article; this is why I come here.

  32. William

    Either I made an arithmetical error (perfectly possible!) in calculating the E&W Con lead over Lab, or I didn’t. It’s easy enough to check. :-)

    Remember that only 27% in E&W had non Con/Lab VI in the YG poll, while in Scotland, it was 67%.

    It’s not a matter of whether Labour are “doing a bit better in England” than in Scotland, it’s that Tories do hugely better in England than in Scotland.

  33. That’s fairly comprehensive, it would be nice if news reports were half as researched. One query, is there anything that needs to be considered regarding the methodology changes for like for like comparisons with Miliband? I seem to remember some of the changes were quite severe on Labour post election.

  34. CAMBRIDGERACHEL & LASZLO
    On Ilyich, Trotsky and JVS

    If you haven’t come across Mark Steel, you should be aware that he is a stand-up comedian who is both funny and very much a lefty.

    I should have added that he has a pretty good website with recordings of all his amusing but historically pretty accurate BBC lectures – see http://marksteelinfo.com/recordings/ downloadable free in MP3 – including the Russian Revolution one.

  35. Oldnat
    ‘It’s not a matter of whether Labour are “doing a bit better in England” than in Scotland, it’s that Tories do hugely better in England than in Scotland.’

    Indeed so but the key factor is the swing between the two parties since May 2015. On a GB basis there is – after rounding of party shares – effectively no swing at all. The Scotland figures imply a swing from Lab to Con of 5 to 6% there, so that should imply that the rest of GB is showing a small swing from Con to Lab which would mean the Tory lead is smaller in England & Wales than last year!

  36. Sounds to me that Labour is doing particularly badly in its traditional heartlands – Scotland etc.

  37. @ BZ

    I know Mark Steel’s works. He is also one of those people Watson warned about :-), although not about him personally.

    He has some great pieces, and some not so great, but I enjoy listening (watching) to him, and also his weekly column in the Independent.

    I can safely say anything about these matters, as I can’t be accused with infiltration (although I did help in the some elections), even less so with Trotskyism :-)

    And thanks for the link.

  38. @R&D – great to have you back.

    While AW clearly seeks to be impartial, this write up doesn’t represent any kind of good news for the current leadership of Labour. There isn’t actually any good news in there for them.

    This very careful analysis scotches the notion that Labour were leading before the coup and confirms that headline VI is poor and underlying perceptions very poor. It indicates that London doesn’t represent a success, only stasis, and it removes the fig leave of by election and local council successes as somehow showing ‘real votes’ are backing Labour.

    All in all, it’s clear that Labour has been in trouble throughout the Corbyn leadership period.

    As with R&D, if and when the time comes, these numbers will haunt Labour, even if all division and lots end, as Corbyn’s negatives are just too great for the party to overcome. If they weren’t, we should have seen some evidence of this so far.

  39. William

    Go do the arithmetic. As I said, I may have made some error or other, in which case you will be able to point it out.

    Before you do, however, it’s probably worth going and having a look at the tables for the pollsters who do publish cross-breaks for England and/or E&W.

    All the ones I have looked at (and often posted the data on here) show much larger Tory lead over Lab in England than in GB.

  40. The Conservatives seem to have a spring in their step in Scotland – they even seem to have leapfrogged the Labour party in one of its traditional areas!

  41. Alec
    ‘This very careful analysis scotches the notion that Labour were leading before the coup and confirms that headline VI is poor and underlying perceptions very poor. It indicates that London doesn’t represent a success, only stasis, and it removes the fig leave of by election and local council successes as somehow showing ‘real votes’ are backing Labour.’

    I don’t really disagree – but in the interests of balance the article does show that at the May 2016 Local Elections Corbyn somewhat ouperformed Miliband in 2011 and Kinnock in 1984 /1988..Had the figures been included, the point could also have been made that Corbyn outperformed Gaitskell in 1960/61 – and ,of course, Labour did go on to win the 1964 election.

  42. Oldnat
    ‘All the ones I have looked at (and often posted the data on here) show much larger Tory lead over Lab in England than in GB.’

    That may well be true of the last few weeks during the May honeymoon bounce – though the Tory lead in England is slightly offset by a Labour lead in Wales. Maybe I am quibbling , but your initial comment referred to England & Wales – rather than just England.

  43. @ BZ

    Thanks again for the Steel link.

    Listening to it again, I found it very funny and rather accurate. However, not as a point of discussion, all interpretations (including Steel in the last 3 minutes) start to struggle (the same applies for the late Alec Nove of Glasgow University) with the period of 1925-1934. I guess Getty got the closest to unfold it.

  44. OldNat – “The less publicised war between the “British” and “Scottish” orientated factions within SLab is probably more important, if ELab wants SLab MPs, instead of SNP (potential allies) or SCon (certain enemies).”

    I’m guessing the English Labour lot don’t look on the SNP as potential allies. It wasn’t all that long ago that Salmond was gloating about making Miliband “dance to his tune”, which inspired all those Conservative posters with Miliband in Salmond’s pocket.

    And then look at the behaviour of SNP MPs in Parliament, actually taking shifts to harass Denis Skinner and keep him out of his seat. Everyone including Tories were aghast – “potential allies” don’t harass 80+ year olds.

    Nobody sacrifices their own MPs to help another party, who may or more likely may not help you.

    Conservatives refused to do it in the south-west where they were up against coalition partners LibDems, and both had a common enemy (Labour). Instead they sensibly backed their own candidates wherever they were, and have been rewarded with a majority govt plus a partial comeback in Scotland.

    When the SNP fall out of favour in Scotland, they’ll be vulnerable in the former Tory heartlands in the north-east, and it will likely be Tories who benefit.

  45. @ Candy

    I think it was OldNat who put out some quotations from which it seemed that the Corbyn-followers suggested alliance with the SNP.

    Until the independence issue is settled one way or another for some time, the SNP support will stay high (unless they make some major political error, or individuals go off the accepted moral route).

  46. Candy
    ‘When the SNP fall out of favour in Scotland, they’ll be vulnerable in the former Tory heartlands in the north-east, and it will likely be Tories who benefit.’

    I suspect that much of that shift has already happened in that many former Tory voters who had been voting SNP in recent years on the basis of an Anti-Labour tactical vote have now largely returned to Tory ranks. There probably lies much of the explanation of the better Tory performance at the Holyrood elections and in the polls. Consequently the SNP vote is now likely to be much more ex-Labour, so if things turn sour for the SNP at some stage I would expect many of those ex-Labour voters to drift home too.

  47. William

    “your initial comment referred to England & Wales – rather than just England.”

    Yep! That’s because YG bury their Welsh data in with the English Midlands, so it’s impossible to estimate an England only VI data set from the YG tables.

    “That may well be true of the last few weeks during the May honeymoon bounce ”

    As regulars on here will know – I’ve been posting such data for years! :-)

  48. LASZLO
    I found it very funny and rather accurate. However, not as a point of discussion, all interpretations (including Steel in the last 3 minutes) start to struggle

    Glad you enjoyed it. I didn’t recommend it to CR for his exposition of 1925-1934 Russia!

    Even when one disagrees with him, though, he is still amusing.

  49. Oldnat
    ‘As regulars on here will know – I’ve been posting such data for years! :-)’

    I know you have – and your comments are invariably well worth reading!
    Re-England in relation to GB. I agree that the Tories should outperform in England as compared with their GB figures. In the past, Labour could count on big leads in Wales and Scotland to help ofset relative weakness in England. Whilst Wales still shows a clear Labour lead , Scotland – at least for the moment – appears to show the Tories ahead of Labour, which means that one of the factors holding them back them in terms of GB lead over Labour has disappeared.

  50. BZ

    Thanks for that link, it was very entertaining. However I now have a problem in that I can’t see anything wrong with trotskyism and can’t understand why they are so maligned

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