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: May, Trump & past Prime Ministers

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters, U.S. on August 18th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: May, Trump & past Prime Ministers

I was on Polling Matters again this week with Keiran and Rob, talking Theresa May, past Prime Ministers and the US election.

 

Polling Matters: Scotland, Corbyn & the EU

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on August 11th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: Scotland, Corbyn & the EU

I was back on Polling Matters with Keiran and Julia Rampen from the New Statesman. This week we talked about the future for Scottish independence, the current state of the Labour Party, and public attitudes to brexit.

Podcast:

 

Video:

 

Airport expansion is either the end of carbon budgets or the end of cheap flights

Posted in Climate Sock, Transport on August 8th, 2016 by Leo – 1 Comment

This is a slightly extended version of an article that was originally published by the Guardian.

You might hope we’d learn our lesson. But less than two month after the EU referendum, with the promised £350 million replaced by looming job losses and downgraded growth, we’re on the brink of falling for another fantasy.

This time, it isn’t the promise of a magic money tree: it’s the claim that we can build a new runway without needing to worry about our carbon emissions.

When the government’s Airports Commission endorsed the expansion of Heathrow last year it was challenged to explain how the UK could expand its airports without breaking climate change laws that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

It was a reasonable question. Like most countries, the UK has a tough emissions target for 2050 and, even though aviation has been given an easy ride compared with other industries, the sector is on course to exceed its generous limit. That’s the case even without adding a new runway. Increasing the number of flights from the UK would put the target further out of reach.

Undeterred, the commission responded with reassurance that we can build a new runway without breaking our climate limits. Its confidence seems to have put most people off looking into the details: that and the way the commission scattered, across hundreds of pages in several different publications, its explanation of how it had achieved what seemed impossible.

Analysis that I co-authored might help explain why the commission appeared so reluctant to spell out its workings. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a less popular way of winning public support for a new runway than its suggestion for how expansion could avoid breaking our climate limits.

The essence of the commission’s suggestion is simple, even if the details are difficult to pin down. It proposed that the government could allow a new runway to be built without busting the emissions cap, by hiking the cost of tickets so fewer people can afford to fly. Its idea is to build a new runway in London then increase prices so that demand for flights falls, particularly at airports in poorer parts of the country.

No one can say precisely how big the price increase would need to be to keep the country within its limits, because it depends on how quickly flight technology improves, but today’s report estimates how much more tickets might have to cost.

If technology to make planes more fuel-efficient progresses as quickly as the commission optimistically suggests, a return ticket to New York – from any UK airport, not just the one with the new runway – would become about £270 more expensive after a new runway is built. But if technology moves more slowly, as many analysts think it will, the flight could cost £850 more. Price increases like these would spell the end of budget flying; long-haul trips would be affordable only to the rich.

People worried about climate change shouldn’t kid themselves that this is a realistic solution to the emissions problems a new runway brings. It’s near-impossible to imagine the government putting such a high price on flying purely to protect the environment: after all, it couldn’t bring itself to increase fuel duty for drivers this year despite two years of falling prices. It’s far more likely that a new runway – and the rest of the UK’s airport capacity – will be used, busting our climate limits.

If the runway really is built, the best hope of keeping flights affordable without breaking our climate targets may be for the government to tax frequent fliers at a higher rate than those going on holiday just once or twice a year, so more people can still travel. This approach was outlined last year by A Free Ride and could be the cleanest and fairest answer, but would depend on a level of serious political engagement with this challenge that has so far been absent.

Sometime soon the government will finally make a decision about a new runway. To many, it seems the question of how the runway can avoid breaking our climate change law has been resolved, but in fact, all we’ve had is a series of possibilities. We should understand where the path leads before taking another step into the dark.

 

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.

Polling Matters: the omni-edition

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 1st, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: the omni-edition

I was on Polling Matters (audio only) this week, talking with Keiran Pedley about how the polls did in the referendum (and how we should read them in future), the Tory leadership contest and the Labour coup. Not much to cover, then.

 

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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Polling Matters: should Leave focus on immigration?

Posted in Europe, Politics, Polling Matters on June 5th, 2016 by Leo – 1 Comment

I was on Polling Matters again this week, talking – as usual at the moment – about the referendum. Other than a discussion of whether the polls really have narrowed the main question was whether the Leave campaign should focus on immigration.