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. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    “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”

    Trostkyists are maligned with good reason.

    Trotsky that true democrat, right? As People’s Commissar for the Army and Navy he was savage. He had thousands of his own men executed for desertion and cowardice. At the time the death penalty was widely accepted even for these offences. But even by the standards of the time his application of this was very indiscriminating. Look at those liberals and leftists who blanche at those shot at dawn by the British military yet embrace the Bolsheviks. He had Tsarist officers to lead his men, aristocrats mostly. To stop them deserting he had their children taken hostage. If these men deserted their families were killed. This was a barbaric act. He had hundreds of hostages killed. The Red Army committed many atrocities and he never brought war criminals to book. Yes, Whites carried out such crimes too but Trotsky was still guilty.

    He invaded Poland. Poland had been trying to liberate areas with a majority of ethnic Poles. I admit Poland went beyond this. Some Poles were irredentists who wished to return Poland to its zenith of the 17th century. The Polish working class in very few cases wanted to be ’emancipated’ by the Reds. Lenin was forced to admit this. He should, as a keen student of the French Revolution, have remembered Robespierre, ” no one welcomes armed missionaries.”

    Think of the Kronstadt Revolt. Many Bolsheviks who had hoped for a free society saw how a viciously oppressive system had been set up. Factory workers and peasants were exploited far more intensely than under the ancien regime. They pleaded for multiparty democracy and free expression. They wanted socialists of other stripes released from arbitrary detention. These men of Kronstadt had been among the bravest of Trotsky’s fighters. Yet he was instrumental in crushing this revolt.

    Trotsky heartily approved of the slaying of the Imperial family. The Tsarevich was 12 when his father was kicked out of power. What responsibility can he bear for his father? Yet he was killed. Trotsky was totally heartless and inhumane. He was not tough he was disgustingly and shamefully cruel.

    He was in the Politburo and must bear responsibility for all the crimes of the Soviet regime. The famine caused by starving enemy areas, the seizure of property, the suppression of free thought, the iconoclasm, the mass torture, the summary executions – all his work.

    He went along with the New Economic Policy. No sooner had communism been complained than they went to a ‘new’ economic system called, er, capitalism. So they admitted straightaway that communism is dud. All you Commies who say he was a pure Commie and an idealist delude yourselves. He was as evil as they come.

    He would have liked to have set himself up as a military dictator. He had very few friends in the party. Lenin denounced him in his will.

    Part of the reason that Trotsky did not assume paramount position in the USSR is that he was a total headcase. When Lenin died Trotsky wanted to attack in all directions at once. Stalin and others were canny enough to recognise that despite their ideological prejudices it was obvious that the USSR was devastated by 7 years of war. There was a huge famine to contend with and it was the US in the main that had saved the starving. The USSR was in no fit state to declare war on the rest of humanity. The so-called downtrodden workers of the world had no wish to be rescued by the Reds. The capitalist world was recovering from the Great War and incipient Communist revolutions in Hungary, Germany and other lands had been quelled. Trotsky’s doctrine was revolution en permanence which was bloody and destructive beyond belief.

    Trotsky supported the Republican Government in Spain and had no problem with its oppression and atrocities. Yes, Stalin is by most measures the most murderous person of all time. Trotsky was a wannabe, he was just not so skilful at manoeuvring his way into the top job. It is no defence of Communism to say that a madman ruined it. If Stalin was the only bad Commie ruler one might have a point but most of the most savage regimes in the world are Communist. So many of its leaders have been tyrants. It is really a criminal conspiracy – a terrible fraud. They pretend to care about the poor and talk about it while savagely practising theft for the benefit of their oligarchy.

    Make no mistake, Trotsky was a totalitarian. Trotskyites or Trotskyists have been among the most destructive and repulsive political sects of modern times. They always support terrorism over freedom. Their idol was no different. See how gently Trotsky was treated by the Tsarists in a comfy cell in St Petersburg. If only we could kill the evil bastard a thousand times.

  2. Re Scottish voting patterns: I don’t know if this sheds any light, or just adds confusion, but there was a local by-election last week in Irvine West in North Ayrshire, where it was an STV system. SNP led on first ballot, but eventually lost to Labour because more Tory second preferences were for Lab rather than SNP.

    Does this suggest that the Unionist voting preference overcomes even traditional animosities between Lab and Con?

  3. William

    Thanks for the compliment (though even I recognise I can make rubbish comments at times!)

    I don’t know if you looked at the Simon Pia article I linked to upthread, but it highlights both the internal problems of SLab and the difficult relationship with the party at Westminster.

    Without supporting votes from Scottish MPs, the task of creating a Labour Government at Westminster becomes hugely more difficult.

    Shadow Cabinet members have recognised that, and their raising of the possibility of a “progressive[1] alliance” including the SNP, has incensed some in SLab (for obvious reasons).

    Incidentally, your ” I would expect many of those ex-Labour voters to drift home too” may not reflect the situation in Scotland today.

    One of the pollsters (annoyingly, I can’t remember which!) asks a question about which party people consider themselves as “belonging to” (or some such phrase).

    From that, it appears that more Scots consider the SNP as their “home” – from where they may wander from time to time. :-)

    It would be unwise to think that Scots voters necessarily think of the GB parties as their “home”.

    [1] One of these words that means damn all, of course!

  4. Tancred

    Thank you for supplying balance

  5. Good piece Anthony.
    Labour heading for defeat in 2020 but not meltdown.
    Maybe 1987 rather than ’83?

  6. Pete B

    “Does this suggest that the Unionist voting preference overcomes even traditional animosities between Lab and Con?”

    It’s a bit more complex than that – but basically “Yes”.

    What is important to understand about politics in Scotland is that has never been simply “GB politics in Scotland”.

    1955 remains the only UK GE in which more than 50% of Scots voted for a single party (or rather coalition), but that was more about Labour’s centralisation of power in London.

    Labour’s dominance in the last third of the 20th century was more to do with attracting middle class public sector workers than anything else (Willie Ross was a master in Scottish politics). East Renfrewshire’s demographics would have made it a rock solid Tory constituency, were it in England.

    However, the fault line in Scottish politics is now more intensively where it has always been – should Scotland have more autonomy, and if so, how much?

  7. R&D

    Sorry, it seems your comment went to moderation.

    I don’t have any doubt that pacifism is not a winning ticket, although I also doubt that armament-piling is a winning one.

    My concern is much more philosophical – the construction of a socially liberal left with the aim of turning the fruits of the huge technological advancement to the wildest possible populous while educating them how to control it (none of the parties currently aim for the latter, maybe the Greens, but very indirectly) and who leads it. I think the social and economic contexts are there, but these are only the necessary, not than sufficient conditions. Unfortunately, some people misinterpret my dislike of the opportunist centre left, and the organisational or managerial competence required for the reconstruction of such a socially liberal left for being pro-Corbyn (having said that at the moment there is no better).

    One of the oddities is the mixing of values, beliefs and political affiliations in the polls.

    I’m less concerned with the contradictions in the economic management questions – old habits have a long lifespan. More about the social values that scattered around party affiliations, influenced by class, geography, gender, education (and probably personal histories) – the LP could easily engage with them, but then other values would stop these engagements.

    So, there is no really reason for a change from the Tories … And I think this is real, and the polls reflect this well.

    But, and hence my proposition of the harsh measures in the LP (rightly spotted and interpreted by Roger Mexico) as a solution for this. It is not about ideological purity (even if some followers may think), but enabling the engagement with social groups about the divergent values. It would make it much easier. Of course, it can go all wrong, vary bad, indeed.

    You see – reading the names of the two dogs :-) makes me express my thoughts with more clarity (well I think so :-)).

  8. Have any of the Scots here signed up to serve on Nicola Sturgeon’s Childrens Panel?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-37085593

  9. JIM JAM

    @”Maybe 1987 rather than ’83?”

    I think we need to reserve judgement until the Corbyn Project is underway.

    It has been delayed for a while.

    When it is back on track, we will begin to see the destination of the Labour Party-quite a few months yet I think.

  10. CambridgeRachel

    Getty’s “The Origns of the Great Purges” is a better source to understand the 1920s Russia than Tancred. It is still the most documented (even if it was based only on the archives of Smolensk) historical piece.

    On the period of the revolution it is better reading contemporaries, or a historians who actually could read Russian rather than cut and paste from secondary sources. However, in general it was (and seems to be still) such a sensitive issue that encourages unwarranted interpretations (to give a mild one, Alec Nove in his great book on the New Economic Policy simply ignored that it was a return to the early 1918 policy).

    Whenever I read about the accounts of the revolutions – whichever country we talk about – the question that was put to Baroness Orczy (author of the Red Pimpernel) come to my mind: “tell me, why were these Jacobines so angry?”.

    None of these or Tancred’s or Steel’s points have anything to do with Tom Watson’s charges.

  11. Prof Howard

    Nicola Sturgeon’s Childrens Panel” ????

    Jeez!

    The Children’s Panel system has been in place since 1971.

    https://www.childrenspanelscotland.org/what-is-the-childrens-panel/

  12. Laszlo
    You do an excellent job of posting in what is obviously not your first language. Just a note for future reference – Baroness Orczy’s hero is generally known as the Scarlet Pimpernel in English.

    I must admit that I sympathise with the question ‘Why are the Jacobins so angry?’. It’s a question I often wonder about lefties myself. Especially as a lot of the angriest seem to come from privileged backgrounds.

  13. Colin

    You know that it was an anti-Stalin rather than a pro-Trotsky move (all the rehabilitated one were accused with being part of a Trotskyist conspiracy).

    More interesting that they seem to have a YouGov poll on LP members.

  14. @COLIN

    This proves that Corbyn is really off the wall. If Theresa May or some other leading Tory called for the complete rehabilitation of Oswald Mosley (who was a pussycat compared to Trotsky) you can imagine the fuss from the left. They would go bananas.

  15. Tancred

    Did you read the DT article?

    The early day motion asks for the rehabilitations from the charges made during the Moscow Trials …

  16. Laszlo (2nd attempt)
    You do an excellent job of posting in what is obviously not your first language. Just a note for future reference – Baroness Orczy’s hero is generally known as the Scarlet Pimpernel in English.
    I must admit that I sympathise with the question ‘Why are the Jacobins so angry?’. It’s a question I often wonder about modern versions myself. Especially as a lot of the angriest seem to come from privileged backgrounds.

  17. @LASZLO

    I don’t care – Trotsky is a criminal and a murderer. He should not even be mentioned, just as Adolf Hitler is not mentioned by any serious politician on the right as an ideological model to be followed.

  18. @LAZSLO

    “You know that it was an anti-Stalin rather than a pro-Trotsky move (all the rehabilitated one were accused with being part of a Trotskyist conspiracy).”

    But why is a British politician on the left even interested in debating these historical issues? Corbyn should be concerned with unemployment, worker’s rights, alleviating poverty, ensuring fair retirement pensions etc instead of arguing the whys and wherefores of communist ideology. The typical British working class person could not care less about communist ideology. Labour has lost many voters to UKIP and SNP and Corbyn needs to get them back.

  19. @Tancred
    “The typical British working class person could not care less about communist ideology. Labour has lost many voters to UKIP and SNP and Corbyn needs to get them back.”

    I’m sure they’ll come back in droves.

  20. Jim Jam
    ‘Labour heading for defeat in 2020 but not meltdown.
    Maybe 1987 rather than ’83?’

    Maybe 1992 0r 2016 rather than 1987 ? Given that Corbyn outperformed Kinnock in 1988 , and that Kinnock gained 42 seats less than four years later despite Thatcher’s ousting ! We are almost 3.75 years away from the election due in May 2020 – so much can – and will – happen!

  21. @PETE B

    Not my concern as I’m not a Labour supporter, but in a balanced democracy we should not have one dominant party. Unchallenged power brings arrogance and corruption. A strong Labour movement is necessary to keep the Tories on their toes.

  22. CAMBRIDGERACHEL @ BZ
    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

    Sorry about that, but glad you enjoyed it.

    To be fair, I think the entryist stuff came well after his exile, but I’m sure LASZLO will explain if you ask nicely;<)}

  23. Tancred

    I’m not sure why you are getting so angry about a historical character.

    “Criminal and murderer” is a description that could be reasonably applied to many political leaders during revolutions – or even conquests of other countries.

    Of course, that assumes that being a “murderer” applies to those who order the execution of opponents, without actually doing it themselves.

    Would you include Obama in that category?

  24. We are pretty much certain that an election won’t happen until 2020, theres been lots of discussion and I think its safe to assume that even if the PLP gets super self destructive the odds of there being a GE before 2020 are really small.

    What we don’t know is if corbyn will be leader of the labour party in 2020. His chances of remaining leader this year seem to be quite good, but reelection does not mean that he won’t face a challenge again next year. I still think its likely he will decide to pass the baton on. He’s fatally damaged by this coup attempt, whatever chance he had of winning an election is gone. The wisest course would be to make way for a new leader from the left who is part of the new generation unencumbered by 80s baggage

    A new leader could attempt to take labour into an electoral pact. It would be like herding cats but by this time all factions in the labour party must regonize that a split is the best way forward and that can only work with PR. An electoral alliance would be a game changer depending on public reaction and the conservative response. The public could be enthusiastic or suspicious, the conservatives may respond by trying to form there own alliance with ukip. But however it plays out, it would change the nature of the election campaign. One other thing to note, in other countries its not always the leader of the largest party that is the PM candidate, Caroline lucas could lead the Alliance even though her party is the smallest, not saying its a good idea but merely its a possibility however remote.

    Then there are events, and we are over due an event. We are not well equipped to deal with economic shocks. Consumers are almost maxed out on debt. Banks are still fragile. Monetary policy has entered Alice in Wonderland territory, interest rates are stuck at near zero and QE seems to be suffering from diminishing returns. Things could start to unravel very quickly if a shock does happen and the bank of england doesnt really have any tools at its disposal. I think its reasonable to assume that there will be a major downturn in this Parliament and its unlikely that the conservative govt will escape unscathed from a downturn, but labour and the left have to be ready with an alternative

  25. @ CR

    James Meadway, John McDonnell’s economic advisor, gave a lecture recently in Sofia which spells out a lot of Labour’s current policy development.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs7j3cBT2o0

    Mariana Mazzucato’s thinking ( SPRU Professor at Sussex) seems to be very much to the fore. She writes on her blog:

    ‘My work is focused on the economics of innovation; finance and economic growth; and the role of the State in modern capitalism.’

    John McDonnell has also announced an Investment bank and 500bn of seeding. Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement today on bringing rail back into public ownership and local authority franchising of bus routes also seem to produce significant cuts in public expenditure (these cuts being to the hidden welfare state).

  26. That’s quite a rap sheet Tancred’s got for old Trotsky there. Now it’s easier to see how the Corbynistas are labelled Trots, given how similar their methods are to Trotsky in his heyday. Although of course other parallels are available, like the French Revolution thing. Spoilt for choice really…

  27. Oh, and Stormtroopers too apparently? A golden age…

  28. @”James Meadway, John McDonnell’s economic advisor,”

    Ah-the co-author of “Marx for Today”.

    We will have to get used to hearing more about the faded icons of Communism it seems as Corbyn attempts to defy history.

    I presume Conservative Head Office are already preparing snappy potted economic & social histories of USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, Albania, Laos etc etc.

  29. hello folks
    bad health at moment so mostly just observing
    re labours problems with trotsky
    lets not forget that extreme left wing chancellor dennis healey would be banned from labour today as an ex communist!
    for your amusement via robert peston who at least has a sense of humour
    https://medium.com/@georgenturner/blairite-entryism-251dfce4f128#.qkx9avza0

  30. @CA – “An electoral alliance would be a game changer depending on public reaction and the conservative response. The public could be enthusiastic or suspicious, the conservatives may respond by trying to form there own alliance with ukip. But however it plays out, it would change the nature of the election campaign.”

    This seems to be the general rallying call of the Corbyn supporters when faced with the fact that they would alienate the PLP and many other more centrist party members. It also reflects the consensus that the Corbyn style left can’t win – so at least here there is agreement across Labour.

    In my view, you’ve also really missed the point. There really isno need to wonder about what the impacts of an electoral alliance would be, because we’ve seen it already, we know how the Tories would respond, and we know what the voting public will do – it happened in 2015, and Labour got mashed.

    The Tories believed they were heading for seat losses and a hung parliament, and the one card they played relentlessly, in an extremely effective and well targeted manner, was the Lab/SNP left wing progressive alliance. It destroyed Labour’s chances, and was the prime factor in enabling Cameron to completely butcher the Lib Dems in the LD/Con marginals.

    So by all means do keep talking about Labour going for an electoral alliance, but please don’t tell us that we don’t know what the result would be. Another 5 years of the blues is the near certainty.

  31. @”John McDonnell has also announced an Investment bank and 500bn of seeding”

    Funding to be provided by the Bank of England presumably , who will be required to buy Bonds from the State Investment Bank.

    McDonnell once had an Economic Advisory Panel who went around the country explaining how the the New Jerusalem would come to pass.
    It seems to have fallen by the wayside-noteable among its former members being one Danny Blanchflower who used to be much much quoted on UKPR.

    I haven’t seen quotes of his parting observation as he quit McDonnell’s Panel-” Nobody in their right mind” would serve as BoE Governor if Corbyn were PM.

    Oliver Kamm in today’s Times explains Blanchflower’s remark.

    As loose Monetary Policy runs out of steam & is seen to have advantaged the asset rich more than the waged , looser Fiscal Policy in an era of ultra low interest rates looks like the next response. Gilt buyers will have no fear that looser fiscal policy will signal higher inflation, because they know that the BoE is mandated to contain it..

    But if BoE is required to print money for Politicians to “invest” through their State Investment Bank , then it no longer has operational independence to meet inflation targets. It would be compelled to underwrite deficit financing for whatever schemes McDonnell /Corbyn stipulate.
    Neither of them has given any indication as to their view of appropriate targets for Public Debt & Budget Deficits.

    As Blanchflower concludes-which responsible , credible public servant would agree to be Governor of BoE under this regime?

    In a GE campaign Cons would have a field day on Labour’s Fiscal Credibility .

  32. I think the use of badly in the title for this piece is wrong.
    How is Jeremy c doing, would be better.

    Anthony, many of us think he is doing well and the plp is doing badly.

    How badly are the plp doing, would be even better.

    Oversensitive? No, weary.

  33. Alec seems to be somwhat blinded by his opinion of Corbyn, to the exclusion of all other unique factors at play in this tumultuous time. Less certainty would seem more convincing. The chances of the Tories repeating their clean-sweep of the SW lib dems again after five years of what could easily be less than wholeheartedly popular government, has to be somewhat less than 100%, for starters… People were talking about the Tories never winning again a few years back and now they are supposedly unassailable after winning a tiny majoroty, and with some immense potential economic catastrophes lurking ready to pounce… This isnt the eighties, in fact very little is similar.

  34. You REALLY DON’T LIKE the Greens, do you?! Even though that first graph goes down to ‘0’ (zero), you still choose not to show where the Green Party is on that chart – WHY?

  35. MARKW

    I think you should read AW’s opening paragraph:-

    ” 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? ”

    As usual he is trying to produce evidence from Opinion Polls to either refute or confirm popular anecdotal partisan opinion like that offered by your goodself.

    These pieces by AW are the prime reason why I come here.

  36. agree mark w
    very hard to judge how good or bad corbyn is or could be
    3 independent reports have shown considerable misrepresentation of him in all the media-so much so that one called it damaging to democracy
    no leader of any party has had its mps so at odds with its members and so disrespectful of an elected leaders authority
    its impossible to fairly judge him

  37. TULLY

    Can you say why the evidence of Opinion Polls is not as relevant to “judging” the popularity of Corbyn as any other politician?

  38. Colin, the framing of the title is at odds with that aim.

    As for partisan guff, well you should blush, not I, I suggest.

    I don’t post much as I have little to offer excpt first hand experience.

  39. Colin.
    The opinion polls should be placed in context.
    For supporters of jc that context is the coup and the press.

    I accept we may live with an ongoing coup and a suspicious press but the context should be recognised.

  40. MARK W

    I disagree-as the extract I quoted makes clear.

    I agree that AW’s best efforts to bring us back to Polling evidence do not overcome our basic political prejudices.

    But he seems resigned to that :-)

  41. I hope that loyal readers of UKPR will be furnished with this new YouGov initiative & appropriate analysis :-

    http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2016/08/16/introducing-the-pbyougov-favourability-ratings-a-new-development-by-the-site/

    Fascinating.

  42. colin not questioning the popularity of corbyn or the polls
    merely suggesting that this may be the result of a distorting media representation
    that is not paranoia as reports from lse birbeck etc back the evidence of this
    all i am saying is with this it is impossible to judge whether he is or could be good bad or indifferent from the polling merely his popularity which is determined to a large extent on how he is presented to the public

  43. Colin, you misunderstood as per.

    I did not mention prejudice as you oddly misinterpret, but of context.
    I mentioned jc supporters in this regard but as Tully said many academic studies recognise this too.

    Clearly the use of the word badly in the title adds nothing, and as you point out the lead portrays a more even handed aim.

  44. MARKW

    @”The opinion polls should be placed in context.
    For supporters of jc that context is the coup and the press.”

    Most politicians in my memory have been forced to resort to this get out at one time or another. Infamy Infamy-they’ve all got it In for Me.

    My reaction to this is :-

    * Its up to you chum-make yourself more popular -or revel in the unpopularity of your views. But make your mind up. You can’t have it both ways.

    * The Press do not have the influence you claim, and the voting public are not as sheeplike or as gullible as you imply-which maybe why you have a problem.

  45. TULLY

    @”how he is presented to the public”

    But thats up to him to manage.

    Anyway-see my response to MARKW on this.

    And remember the definitive cry of the failed politician . I refer you to Dick Tuck.

  46. Colin.
    I think a discussion about the position of our media and the role it plays in the wider political economy is valid.

    Dismissing it all with a few quips doesn’t encapsulate the complexity that clearly exists.

  47. Thought this was quite poor, unfortunately. Uncharacteristically so for this site. Switched off after the first few paragraphs. Namely this one:

    “A more reasonable point of comparison is to go back earlier in the year, before the EU referendum.”

    So you consider it more reasonable to ‘go back’ to a time of unprecedented turmoil for either party, particularly the Conservatives? Just no. How about go back to the period September 2015 to March 2016, which pretty consistently had the Tories ~5-6 points ahead?

  48. And as for your, Colin’s, suggestion that jc manage the media better, I think that he won’t is what many find refreshing .

  49. colin the idea that a hostile media can in some way be managed doesnt hold water
    read the reports

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