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. CANDY
    LibDem voters LIKE capitalism

    Indeed, most do. However the LDs & Liberals before them introduced STV for Ireland [who now seem to quiite like it] after WW1 and have campaigned for it ever since. Previous LD voters must be aware of that.

    I can see they would be targeted with a rehash of the “pocket” ads in a progressive alliance, but would they miss out on on a democratic alliance which included UKIP?

  2. @BBZ

    Yes, but you have to draw peeps attention to it. No peep is gonna trawl through every link on the off chance it might contain crucial info. about Boris taking the helm. No one woulda thunk it could happen.

    The Chuckle Bros. thing is more the deal…

  3. CARFREW
    (It occurs, that if we actually achieve Brexit, whatever it means, that some carefully nurtured empires may suddenly be surplus to requirements. Thus, the ideal, from the point of view of a department charged with achieving Brexit, might be to never actually achieve it…)

    Ssshhhh!

  4. CARFREW
    No peep is gonna trawl through every link on the off chance it might contain crucial info.

    Correct, but that’s a static link which has snippets for each day if finds something relevant to Brexit, It’ll be growing alarmingly if the “leaks” about when A50 might be triggered prove accurate.

  5. Hugo Rifkind in the Times arguing it’s pointless to complain about entryists in the Labour Party when they were once entryists themselves, taking over under Blair.

    “‘Entryism is the bogeyman of politicians infinitely more certain about what they aren’t than what they are. That was true when Corbynites used to cry it about moderates, and it’s equally true now the moderates cry it back about them.

    It’s also what you cry when you are losing the argument. Personally, I share the Labour moderate fear that Corbyn is an electoral disaster, and have an even greater fear that he might end up in power. Yet the time has come for them to stop sneaking around in courts and committees and accept that he won their party fair and square, with a straightforward appeal to a huge number of people. If they can’t win it back by playing the same game, then they’d better hope for some new, better entryists who can.”

  6. @BZ

    I don’t think UK LibDems take any notice of what goes on in the Irish Republic, it’s a foreign country.

    The question for them is “would they be willing to turn Britain into Venezuela by allying with the Corbynistas, just to get PR”.

    I think the answer has to be No. Especially as they might lose the referendum again, and end up with No PR and Venezuela.

    Then there is the issue that Corbyn himself does not believe in PR – he campaigned in favour of FPTP in the last referendum. (I think the thinking on the hard left is that FPTP enables them to seize control and impose a hard commie policy that no majority would vote for. They’re hijacking the Labour brand for the same reason – they think people will vote for it blindly out of loyalty and they can then use those votes to impose policies that the voters would never choose if they were paying attention). So there is a real danger that all these parties sign up to an alliance, and then he reneges and does whatever he wants, and says, “ha ha, tricked ya” once he has gotten his hands on power.

    I can see the LibDems allying with a breakaway Labour party headed by Chuka Ummuna though. Especially as he is in favour of PR.

  7. Candy

    Im sorry, where does it say that Labour policy is to turn Britain into Venezuela? Even with the radical stuff jeremy is talking about we would only get close to being as left wing as Germany and Scandinavia

    And they call us delusional!

  8. Also notice that I never talked about a new PR referendum, but instead including a commitment to PR in a joint manifesto

  9. Carfrew

    This quote from Hugo has me confused

    “It’s also what you cry when you are losing the argument. Personally, I share the Labour moderate fear that Corbyn is an electoral disaster, and have an even greater fear that he might end up in power.”

    So he’s unelectable but might end up in power?

  10. “The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and public provision free at the point of use”

    Owen Smith.

    Wrong.

    The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and the best possible healthcare provision free at the point of use.

  11. @CR

    Corbyn and his acolytes were big cheerleaders of Chavez, even as he was looting that country and jailing all dissenters (including trade unionists).

    Given that Corbyn ignores official Labour policy at will, he must be judged on his own views alone. Even if it is Lab policy to be moderate, Corbyn will ignore them to turn the UK into a version of Venezuela and Cuba. (If he was ashamed of his support for Venezuela he’d have apologised by now – but he’s proud of it. Given how he lent support at the height of the thieving, he actually thinks it’s OK to loot a country and have lots of people starve as a result, as long as you do a proper anti-American rant before you loot).

  12. “The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and the best possible healthcare provision free at the point of use.”

    You could add to that Colin ” . . ., by the most cost-effective and timely means.”

    This might mean a wider political spectrum on UKPR in agreement with your revised ethos. :)

  13. YouGov have published their leadership favourability ratings:

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/15/theresa-may-more-popular-jeremy-corbyn-among-tradi/

    Theresa May leads amongst all age groups apart from the 18-24 group.

  14. Colin
    “The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership….”

    So you want to nationalise GPs, pharmacists, opticians, dentists etc etc? That’ll go down well.

  15. The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and public provision free at the point of use.

    The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and the best possible healthcare provision free at the point of use.

    The core ethos of the NHS has to be public ownership and the best effort healthcare provision free at the point of use.

    The core ethos of the NHS has to be public oversight and a best effort healthcare provision free at the point of use.

    The core ethos of the NHS has to be public oversight and best effort healthcare provision at the point of use.

    So easy to refine an ideal isn’t it.

  16. “This quote from Hugo has me confused

    “It’s also what you cry when you are losing the argument. Personally, I share the Labour moderate fear that Corbyn is an electoral disaster, and have an even greater fear that he might end up in power.”

    So he’s unelectable but might end up in power?”

    Makes perfect sense to me – if I were a Labour supporter. Fear that my party can’t win with this guy, and a greater fear of what will happen if this particular guy should – unexpectedly – win, due to his . . . (let’s not go there).

    I thought it summed up the current position and gloom of many longstanding committed Labour members very neatly.

  17. @Pete B

    I think Colin meant public funding, not public ownership. As you rightly say, GPs are self-employed and supply a service for which the govt has entered a contract with them and pays them for.

  18. MAXIM PARR-REID

    That’s a little unfair.

    I think every other first born would be enough.

  19. Colin

    Best possible healthcare implies a massive increase in healthcare spending. How high do you want to go?

    50% more to put on the same level as places like Germany
    100% more to put us on the same kind of level as France or
    200% more so that our spending is in line with the US spend

    Or prehaps you want to go higher? What is best possible healthcare? Do you mean the best possible healthcare in the short-term or the best possible sustainable healthcare?

  20. I think GPs have always been self-employed – it’s been that way since before St Clement of Attlee decided that his new NHS would outsource primary care by entering into contracts with them.

  21. Candy
    “I think Colin meant public funding, not public ownership”

    I do hope so. I wouldn’t like to think of him going all ol’ Corby on us!

  22. @Pete B

    The NHS contracts out services, but it is still publicly owned. And yes, there are a directly publicly owned GPs, Dentists and Opticians, and iirc a legal requirement for the NHS to provide those where needed. (Say, if a village GP partnership goes bankrupt.)

    Dentistry and Opticians are the only exceptions to the ‘free at point of use’, where they lobbied hard for means-tested provision. With the result that a while back poor people didn’t even know they *could* get free dentistry and glasses until incentives were put in place to advertise it. But even then they can charge for purely cosmetic things, like white fillings or nice frames. The dentistry opt-out is growing harder to defend as it is now well known that it is not simply a ‘cosmetic’ issue of nice looking teeth but an important part of our general health.

    One potential way to fix NHS funding, would to be allow the NHS to open high-street Opticians and Dentists, that charge for solely cosmetic treatments. Alas, private dentists and opticians would not be happy with that competition.

  23. CR

    Spending != Outcome

    Just because you can pay 10x the amount of more for the same drugs in the US doesn’t mean they work 10x better once you set foot on US soil.

    It should be about outcomes, not about money spent.

    The NHS ideology should be: For the taxation level the public are willing to tolerate, provide the best possible set of outcomes.

    The “free at the point of service” bit has gone by the wayside for things like prescriptions (Scotland aside), opticians and dentists. So it’s not a completely unbreakable rule.

  24. CANDY
    Then there is the issue that Corbyn himself does not believe in PR – he campaigned in favour of FPTP in the last referendum.

    I presume you mean the 2011 AV referendum.
    Do you have a source for that assertion?

    The only topical reference I can find is Should we support AV? from 2011-01-19 which includes:
    The division among Labour MPs cuts across the usual left/right lines.

    On the left, Katy Clark, Kelvin Hopkins, and Ronnie Campbell, are against AV; John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn for. Tony Benn, no longer an MP, backs AV. Hard Labour right-wingers are also to be found on both sides. Ed Miliband is for AV.

    Corbyn was not a member of the shadow cabinet before or after the 2001-10-07 reshuffle, so unsurprisingly, the BBC’s AV referendum: Where parties stand of 2011-04-26 states:

    Labour leader Ed Miliband is supporting the Yes campaign for changing the electoral system, believing it is fairer than the current situation and good for democracy and accountability.

    Other senior figures such as Alan Johnson also support AV, but the party as a whole is divided on the issue, with more than 100 Labour MPs saying they oppose such a change.

    Several current shadow cabinet members, including John Healey and Caroline Flint, as well former ministers such as David Blunkett, Lord Prescott and Margaret Beckett, are actively campaigning against AV.

    A little odd, perhaps, that they mentioned no “hard” lefty.

    In any event, you’ve missed the key difference between a “progressive” alliance and a “democratic” one to achieve PR followed immediately by a fresh GE under the new system.

  25. While I know that the CLP nominations – due to low turnout – are weak indicators, there are some interesting bits in them.

    Firstly, Smith got the closest to Corbyn in Scotland – one possible explanation is that the left has gone to other parties. (The other main area for Smith was London (but proportionally much lower)).

    Secondly, in more than 40% of the CLPs Corbyn had more than 70% of the votes.

  26. 2011-10-07 not 2001-10-07!

  27. @Alan

    The prescription charge has always been present, because your local dispensing chemist isn’t part of the NHS. And again, if there’s no dispensing chemist in an area, the NHS have to step in.

    And yes, if the NHS were allowed to compete with high-street dispensing chemists, they could well subsidise themselves from cosmetics sales.

  28. @BZ

    I was going by the following:

    https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10133/jeremy_corbyn/islington_north/divisions?policy=1084

    On 12 Oct 2010:
    Jeremy Corbyn was absent for a vote on Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — Part 3 — Question for referendum on the system for electing MPs

    He wasn’t bothered if the referendum should go ahead and he wasn’t bothered about the wording of the question being asked, let along there to argue for other types of electoral systems…

  29. New ICM poll

    Con 40 Lab 28 UKIP 14 LD 8 Con lead 12 (down from 16)

  30. Candy

    How do you know that he wasn’t ill or absent in exchange of some sick MP on the other side?

  31. PETEB

    @”So you want to nationalise GPs, pharmacists, opticians, dentists etc etc? That’ll go down well.”

    Er-no-they provide services . It isn’t necessary for the State to own their buildings & equipment …………is it?

    CR

    @”Best possible healthcare implies a massive increase in healthcare spending. How high do you want to go?”

    I think the key benchmarks should be outcomes-not inputs.

    BUT outcomes should inform total funding levels as well as efficiency criteria. There are ample international healthcare standard data with which to set our own benchmarks.

    ……..and of course there are-or should be-patient reactions to treatment.

    You imply that we should be spending more-and I think we almost certainly should.

    After this Olympics, perhaps UK Sport could be consulted on how to demand-and get-best value for money?

  32. “So you want to nationalise GPs, pharmacists, opticians, dentists etc etc? That’ll go down well.”

    ———

    Lol, we could nationalise Colin, which is almost the same thing. He’s onto a winner though, saying how things could be better in the NHS, the question is what you do about it.

    Today in the Times, further revelations about how companies are buying out-of-patent drugs, rebranding them to escape price caps, and then hiking prices by hundreds of percent.

    Difficult for NHS to retaliate by finding alternatives because these companies get exclusive deals. This is why it’s not just a question of public versus private. The private sector looks for ways to take the mick, just like peeps in the public sector. Competition can be an antidote, but that’s a major goal of capital, to avoid competition.

    In this case, might be necessary to adopt a range of remedies as outlined in the Times, including changing regs to allow easier access to treatments from Europe, to create more competition etc.

  33. CANDY
    Jeremy Corbyn was absent for a vote on Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — Part 3 — Question for referendum on the system for electing MPs

    Yes, I found that too. He didn’t vote either way on at least one other occasion.

    So what? It was a bill agreed by the Con/LD Coalition which was bound to be passed. Had he been against it, wouldn’t he have voted against – assuming he was in the HoC that day? He may even have been “paired” with another MP.

    It’s rather a large extrapolation to go from abstaining on a vote the coalition were bound to win for you to claim that:
    Corbyn himself does not believe in PR – he campaigned in favour of FPTP in the last referendum.

    Toning down the sensationalism would make me and, I suspect, others more likely to agree with you, at least occasionally.

  34. A new BMG poll on Corbyn/Smith

    http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/british-public-back-owen-smith-leader-prime-minister/

    Mind you, asking folk in NI whether they are more/less likely to vote Lab if Corbyn/Smith was leader, would only make sense if one of them was arguing that Labour should put up candidates in NI.

  35. @Cambridge Rach

    “Best possible healthcare implies a massive increase in healthcare spending. How high do you want to go?”

    ———–

    Well, there’s preventative healthcare, spending a bit more now to spend less later. Including promoting sport, though you have to be careful with this as some sports are quite good at causing injury. (Also, if it involves GB or UK teams, obviously this will ail Indy peeps).

    Also, the calculus needs to include keeping boomers economically active, thus contributing to the national coffers to give us a net benefit ideally. Needs not to be at the expense of youngsters’ employment though.

    Also, you’d be amazed how much wastage their can be, not least through avoidable error, but not easy to eliminate it. I sometimes cite the airline industry as an example of how to do things, but one of the coffee shop ladies was none too impressed with her return flight from Rome today, a catalogue of errors it would seem…

  36. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the heads-up on the BMG poll

    Can’t work out what the Con responses mean on p2 of the PDF, though.

    In best Labour leader it has: Corbyn 25% Smith 75%

    It’s hard to imagine that Con voters would want either to become PM so I presume they’re more frightened of Corbyn than Smith.

  37. Candy and BZ –

    At 3rd reading Jeremy Corbyn voted against the legislation setting up the referendum on AV and changing the rules for boundary reviews – Labour voted against the Bill en masse. That can hardly be taken as opposition to electoral reform though, it was a government Bill and Labour opposed it, including fervent supporters of reform. Besides, most of the Labour objections during the debate were focused upon the other half of the Bill (boundary reform) not the AV referendum, and it’s perfectly reasonable for Labour to oppose it on those grounds.

    The particular vote that Candy links to wasn’t the bill as a whole, but a committee stage amendment from Caroline Lucas, suggesting the referendum was changed to a multi-stage referendum, asking people who voted yes to change what sort of system they’d like. It looks as if Labour were whipped to abstain (all but five Labour MPs abstained on it)

    Jeremy Corbyn maybe Labour’s most rebellious MP, but he didn’t rebel on *every single vote*. I don’t think you can read too much into him not chosing to rebel on that particular committee stage vote.

  38. ANTHONY WELLS

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to look it up.

  39. Oldnat

    That poll really illustrates labours problem, if they move left they lose the more right wing voters, if they move right they lose their more left wing voters. They are really between a rock and a hard place.

  40. OldNat

    While Labour doesn’t put up a candidate in NI, oddly it has a CLP (I think it is one for the entire country) and it voted for Corbyn.

  41. Interesting to see that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP the most unfavourable party other than UKIP, according to that poll.

  42. Laszlo

    The Labour NI CLP are keen to run candidates in NI and this issue is currently being reviewed by Labour’s NEC. What is interesting is that they voted for Corbyn even though he is opposed to any change. I am not aware of Owen Smith having adopted a position.

  43. @ ProfHoward

    Yes, they do, and it was an issue in the LP in the 2015 election.

    I managed to resist to an answer to “I am not aware of Owen Smith having adopted a position” :-)

  44. Professor howard

    I saw that about the SNP being viewed negatively, I thought prehaps its a bit unfair asking rUK voters about a Scottish party, but then again if a Westminster deal with the SNP becomes necessary its important information

  45. Laszlo/Prof Howard

    Eoin keeps me in touch with developments for Lab in NI.

    Cambridge Rachel

    ” if they move left they lose the more right wing voters, if they move right they lose their more left wing voters”

    They had a similar problem in Scotland over attitudes to autonomous government here. Move one way, and you lose supporters of the opposite view.

    In 2014, they definitely moved “one way”, and we have seen the consequences!

    Whether they can shift position again (as some in SLab are urging) remains to be seen – or whether it can be effective.

  46. Candy does seem to be rather quick to bandy about assertions without the backup. Not only on the Corbyn AV position but also on the Chavez government, there is zero evidence for Chavez having looted anything whatsoever and the PSUV policies represented mild social democracy (public investment in healthcare and education, mostly). The country’s current economic problems are solely down to failing to diversify from oil quickly enoug, a failure shared by their neoliberal predecessors with similarly catastrophic results.

  47. OldNat

    “Whether they can shift position again”

    Judging from the sermon of their leader (I read it today, so it was probably disseminated yesterday), they were not unionist enough, and the best way to unionism is being rightwing (I might have slightly over interpreted her words).

  48. Prof Howard

    “Interesting to see that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP the most unfavourable party other than UKIP, according to that poll.”

    I’m beginning to think you are developing a dangerous obsession with Nicola!

    First it was “Nicola Sturgeon’s Childrens’ Panel” now “Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP”.

    With a favourability rating of +13 in Scotland, The SNP probably isn’t much fussed.

    What is of possibly more interest is the differential response to the SNP between Remainers and Leavers in GB.

    Remainers are relatively neutral on the SNP (favourability +1), while the Leavers see the SNP as worse than Trump!

    We can only speculate as to why people have such opinions.

    Remainers might see the SNP positively because the party campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, and continue to search for ways to keep Scotland in.

    Leavers might see the SNP as an unashamedly Remain party and be unfavourable on that ground.

    It might also be that there is a high degree of British nationalism among Leavers, and they may think that separation is only for them – and not any component partner nation within the UK. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that the BritNats would be most opposed to the most successful party offering an alternative to the UK.

    Since YouGov didn’t ask about Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, English Democrats, SDLP, Mebyon Kernow, Yorkshire First or any other advocate for autonomy within England, we can’t be certain which advocate of a non-UK future is actually seen as most unfavourable.

  49. PROFHOWARD
    Interesting to see that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP the most unfavourable party other than UKIP, according to that poll.

    Which poll? Link?
    If the new BMG one, where? Doesn’t seem to be in the PDF or CSV.

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