Labour leadership

Why Corbyn now can’t be beaten until he loses a General Election: Polling Matters

Posted in Labour leadership, Polling Matters, U.S. on September 30th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Why Corbyn now can’t be beaten until he loses a General Election: Polling Matters

On Polling Matters this week I argued that the Labour leadership challenge has made Corbyn far stronger than he was before:

His overall victory wasn’t much bigger than last time, 62% compared with just under 60%. But there was a significant increase in his win among the members, from about 50% to close to 60%. This was partly about people who voted for Burnham last year, but is mostly about a change in the membership. Smith won nearly two-thirds of people who had joined Labour before the last general election, while Corbyn is utterly dominant among more recent members. The party membership has changed and is much more pro-Corbyn – although this had little to do with the leadership challenge.

But the membership challenge itself will also make things even harder for those who want rid of Corbyn, for two reasons:

1. He won 70% of registered supporters, who paid £25 to vote. It has to be expected that Momentum will try to register those people as full party members, which will mean the membership will become even more sympathetic to Corbyn.

2. As I’ve argued before, around a quarter of people who voted Corbyn last year were shakeable in their faith. They would prefer a leader who could win an election to one who they agree with about everything. The size of his victory among members suggests to me that he’s won many if not most of those people (my view in May was, they needed Corbyn to be given longer before they were persuaded he had to go). Having made the decision to vote for Corbyn this time, they’re now pyschologically committed to him and it’s going to be harder to shake their support in future than it would have been if there hadn’t been a challenge.

This and discussion of how Labour can win the public, and the US election, on podcast and video:

A year of Corbyn: how the Labour leader compares with his predecessors

Posted in Historical polls, Labour leadership, Politics on September 11th, 2016 by Leo – 1 Comment

The day Corbyn took over as Labour leader I posted a chart of how his predecessors had done in their first 12 months, so we could compare polling of Labour during Corbyn’s first year. Every three months I’ve checked in on progress (here, here and here).

Corbyn has been in charge of the party for a year and here is the last update in the series (methodological note below).

It shows that Labour is not the most unpopular it’s ever been at the end of a leader’s first year. Fewer people said they’d vote Labour in 2008 than say the same now. Labour has no less support now than it did after Michael Foot’s first year.

You could argue either way about how badly the precedent suggests Corbyn’s doing. On the one hand, every other Labour leader who took over in opposition when it was polling below 40% (Kinnock, Smith, Miliband), finished their first year with it above 40%. Corbyn finishes his first year at around 30%.

On the other hand, Callaghan, Foot and Brown all lost much more support in their first year than Corbyn did. So it’s hard to argue, using just this data, that he’s the most unsuccessful post-war leader.

The comparison also suggests that the leadership challenge (which came between the 9- and 12-month points in this chart) has had little effect on voting intention. Polling of Corbyn’s Labour has followed a common historical pattern: gaining support in its first six months, then losing it in the second six (as did Gaitskell, Wilson, Kinnock, Smith and Blair).

First 12 months

Given where Labour is now, how can it expect to do at the next election?

A rule that has never been broken is that Labour oppositions always lose support between the end of their leader’s first year, and the general election.

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Polling Matters: the doctors’ strike, Trump & can Owen Smith win?

Posted in Labour leadership, Polling Matters, U.S. on September 10th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: the doctors’ strike, Trump & can Owen Smith win?

I was on Polling Matters this week. The topics were:

1) Leo reacts to Don Brind’s analysis on the last show that Owen Smith can still win and looks at Corybn’s impact on the Labour brand
2) Keiran looks at what Ashcroft polling tells us about what voters want from Brexit and what it means for government
3) Katy looks at YouGov polling on potential future Junior Doctors strike
..and then Keiran explains why his trip to America makes him think that Trump could still win.
Podcast version:

And video:

 

Polling Matters: Theresa May and Labour leadership

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics, Polling Matters on July 13th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: Theresa May and Labour leadership

I was on Polling Matters with Keiran and Asa Bennett of the Telegraph, talking about the new PM and the Labour leadership election. For what it’s worth I now think I was probably wrong to say the rule announcement meant the Labour race would be close: they don’t cut out enough people to make much of a difference.

 

Why the eligibility rules for Labour’s election could help Eagle more than Corbyn

Posted in Labour leadership on July 13th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Why the eligibility rules for Labour’s election could help Eagle more than Corbyn

This short post (based on a series of Tweets) was first published on Politicalbetting.com.

Why I think, contrary to the smartest Labour journalists like Stephen Bush, the rules on eligibility for the Labour leadership election help Eagle, not Corbyn:

It’s indisputable that pre-2015 members are much more pro-Eagle (or whoever the anti-Corbyn challenger is) than members who’ve joined since May. Eagle wins easily among older members, as YouGov’s latest poll shows.

Despite that, the poll has Corbyn beating Eagle 50-40 among all members – which is because 46% of the sample were post-2015 joiners (who are much more pro-Corbyn).

If you exclude members who joined 13 Jan onwards – as the rules will – the membership is therefore rebalanced towards people who were members before May 2015. In itself, that helps Eagle.

But maybe those who joined in January to July 2016 are actually more anti-Corbyn, which would mean the rules would help the incumbent.

According to reports, membership rose over that time, particularly with a reported 100,000 increase since 23 June.

Surely this was mostly Corbyn supporters. To dispute that, you’d need to argue that there’s been a surge of opponents of Corbyn joining up January to July, which outnumbers the Momentum people.

Basically, I think, in January to July: Pro-Corbyn joiners > Anti-Corbyn joiners   (you could also put Anti-Corbyn leavers on the first side of the equation although that’s a bit more complicated as they’re not directly affected by the rule change, though many would probably have signed up as supporters).

The other issue is how many the two sides could have recruited if supporters could be signed up. In principle, this could have greatly helped Eagle, but it depended on engaging outsiders.

While it could have been critical, allowing easy access for supporters to sign-up could just have much helped Corbyn. In fact, that seems more likely.

The change in eligibility isn’t as big a difference as a May 2015 cut-off would have been, but overall, it feels like the membership will be quite finely balanced now. Supporters might have been the only lifeline for Eagle if there hadn’t been the eligibility ruling – but with that change, I don’t think they’re essential.

Labour is the most unpopular it’s ever been after nine months of a new leader

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on June 25th, 2016 by Leo – 7 Comments

26 June update: this has been changed to include today’s Survation poll (Lab:32%), which has slightly improved Labour’s score

Jeremy Corbyn has been leader for nine months so it’s time to update my tracker of his performance compared with that of his predecessors.

After a slight improvement around six months, the proportion supporting Labour has fallen to where it was before Corbyn was elected.

First 12 months - Jun '16 - UPDATE

This means Corbyn’s Labour is now, jointly, the most unpopular the party has ever been after nine months of any post-war new leader. It’s essentially tied with Brown’s Labour, after the financial crisis had hit and he’d bottled the election.

Every previous post-war Labour leader that took over the party in opposition with a voting intention below 45% increased its score by several points and retained most of those gains until at least the end of their first year.

Corbyn, who took over the party with it polling around 31%, its second-lowest for any new leader, has not sustained any improvement in the proportion that would vote Labour. In mid-March Labour had four consecutive polls between 34-36%, but that slight boost has since disappeared.

That is despite the government being split on Europe, u-turning on major decisions and having had a senior cabinet minister resign in protest against its policies.

In comparison with other Labour opposition leaders, Corbyn’s Labour is 7pts behind where the next lowest, Kinnock, was after nine months, when Labour was still 13 years away from winning a general election. It is 10pts behind where Miliband’s Labour was at the same point, when the party had just been kicked out after 13 years in power.

Compared with the election-winning leaders, Labour is now 18pts behind Wilson and 24pts behind Blair.

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Corbyn’s chances of staying leader are better than ever – for now

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on May 19th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Corbyn’s chances of staying leader are better than ever – for now

A few months ago I argued that Corbyn’s leadership wasn’t as secure as it seemed. Although he had won a comfortable majority and most Labour members said he was doing well, I thought that around a quarter of his voters might doubt his electability and be prepared to switch to a rival. That could be enough for him to be turfed out in a leadership content.

Now, a fresh YouGov/Times poll of Labour members has forced me to change my mind.

According to my theory, a chunk of Corbyn voters should have looked at his recent performance and started signalling their willingness to back an alternative.

This hasn’t happened.

If anything, we see the opposite. A larger proportion of Labour members now say they think Corbyn’s doing well than said the same in November (72% to 66%). Among those who voted for him last year, only 16% think he should be ousted before the next general election.

This has sunk my theory that Corbyn could be overthrown soon. Since the November poll, we’ve seen Corbyn’s weak response to the Budget, his Shadow Chancellor waving around the Little Red Book, the leaking of the naughty/nice list of MPs, revelations about members’ anti-Semitism, and his opposition losing seats in the local elections. Yet, Labour members have seen all this and become more confident in their leader.

If these mini-crises haven’t disillusioned Corbyn’s voters, it’s hard to imagine what, realistically, could do so in the next two years. Corbyn has just survived the biggest electoral test he will face until, arguably, the European elections in 2019 (if we have them).

But that still doesn’t mean he’s sure to be leader in the next election.

We fight em till we can't

Strong though this poll is for Corbyn, it also shows what could be his undoing. Only half of Labour members think the party is on course to win the next election. A quarter of Corbyn’s voters think it’s heading towards defeat. While there’s no sign they think the party would do better under an alternative, those are dangerous numbers for Corbyn.

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Labour polls six months after Corbyn became leader

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on March 11th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Labour polls six months after Corbyn became leader

I’ve been tracking Labour’s poll rating under Corbyn and comparing it with how the party did in the first few months of previous leaders.

In the first entry I said that every leader who started below 40% immediately increased Labour’s vote share by at least 5pts.

At three months I found that Labour’s score then was the lowest after three months of any modern leader.

Today’s the end of his first six months and here’s the next update. Labour’s poll score hasn’t fallen any further but is still the lowest at this point under any modern leader:

First 12 months - March '16

Note on methodology: As I said last time, the three-month numbers now include the two weeks after 12 December as well as the two weeks before then (to be consistent with the comparisons), so it has increased by 0.8 from the previous version. The six-month number might similarly change when I do the nine-month update. All data is from Mark Pack’s spreadsheet or UK Polling Report.

Why Corbyn’s support may not be as secure as it seems

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on January 15th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Why Corbyn’s support may not be as secure as it seems

This was originally published on the New Statesman.

The resignation of four shadow ministers – one of them on live TV – would normally prompt speculation about a leadership challenge.

But Labour’s rules seem to protect Corbyn from attempts to unseat him. Even if MPs were to force another leadership election, it’s assumed that the membership would vote him straight back in, perhaps with an even greater majority. I’m not so sure though.

Those who think Corbyn can count on members’ support point to polls of those eligible to vote in leadership elections, which seem to show deep support for the new leader. The most recent, a Times/YouGov poll in November, found that 66 per cent think he’s doing well, compared with 30 per cent of the general public who said the same.

The explanation for this support among members, it’s argued by those who are baffled about how anyone can say he’s doing well, is that many Labour members prefer their party to be pure than to be in power. The same poll found a 24-point lead for those who prefer Labour to put forward policies they really believe in, even if that means being unelectable.

If that’s true, it may not matter how unpopular Corbyn is with the public. In fact, the worse Labour’s poll score becomes, the more popular he might become with some members who take the opprobrium as evidence that they finally have a ‘real’ Labour leader.

But this wrongly treats Corbyn voters as an undifferentiated block, when the reality is that many aren’t indifferent to his struggles.

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Labour polls three months into Corbyn’s leadership

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on December 11th, 2015 by Leo – Comments Off on Labour polls three months into Corbyn’s leadership

Tomorrow is three months since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party.

Shortly after he took over I produced a chart showing how Labour’s poll score has changed over the first year of previous leaders (data from Mark Pack’s brilliant collection of all post-war voting-intent polls).

I found broadly three categories: for some leaders (Kinnock, Smith, Blair) the score increased sharply in the first three months, then slowly decreased over the next nine months; for some leaders (Gaitskell, Wilson, Miliband) the score increased a little then stayed flat for the rest of the year; and for a couple of unfortunates (Callaghan, Foot), the score fell in the first three months then continued to fall for the rest of the year (Brown was an exception in that his score rose quickly at first then fell faster over his second three months than any previous leader’s).

I also noted that every Labour leader who started with support below 40% immediately increased it by several points.

I’ve now updated the chart to show the polls three months into Corbyn’s leadership:

First 12 months - Dec '15 read more »