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

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.

Note on methodology: This is consistent with the approach I’ve used in the previous two trackers.

As I’m including the polls over the two weeks before and the two weeks after each leader’s 3, 6, 9 and 12-month marks, I’ve updated the previously published 6-month numbers with the later polls – which increased them slightly. As this post has come nearly two weeks after the 9-month mark, there may not be any further change to the latest number.

Data’s from Mark Pack’s brilliant sheet of all post-war voting-intent polls and Opinion Bee (which is new to me but has an excellent database).

  1. Mark says:

    A lot of Labour’s core vote has been eroded over the last 1-2 decades by devolution. So comparing to any previous situation is simply an unfair comparison. People realise the unions no longer have so much of a say in political affairs and instead of voting labour to be part of that block vote they are turning to local parties such as the SNP and Plaid Cymru more and more.

    Blair and Brown were both centre-right politicians, a realm of the political spectrum that people, especially those likely to vote Labour, are showing increasing disgruntlement with. Most of those challengers to Corbyn in his own party would take Labour back to that position and probably reduce their appeal.

    People are currently reeling from the referendum and trying to work out who’s doing and saying what and why so. Give it a week or two and I wouldn’t be surprised if Labour’s popularity surged when it becomes clear that the referendum will be ignored and Boris will be in number 10.

    I’ve never voted Labour in my life but Corbyn is the only person in Westminster I could find myself voting for if there were an election tomorrow. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way and it probably explains why Labour party membership has doubled under his helmsmanship.

  2. Matt says:

    It seems to me that the real comparison is +/- over starting point. Otherwise, you have a bias built in for people who became leaders when Labour, not necessarily thanks to them, was doing well and against those who became leaders when Labour was doing badly, again not necessarily thanks to them.

    By that metric, it seems that Corbyn is not great but far from the worst.

  3. Gertrude Pullman says:

    I do not know how you can think British people are so fickle
    These charts as usual can be fixed.? As for the disgraceful way
    The Government Tories and Labour MPs unelected PMs are
    ignoring the the Public as a Shame on them A general Election
    Should be called NOW. Democracy demands this’s

  4. Andrew Hunt says:

    Where is Attlee?
    And a good comparison would be unpopular Tories in oppositon too.
    How many uk governments were Tory post war? How long were their terms?
    Though Thatch managed to survive she was succeeded by Major who won two terms before being removed in 97. In sum Tories have been in opposition as much as Labour.
    Also I think it’s bizarre that this has been carried out to discredit Jeremy Corbyn’s position.

  5. Abyd says:

    Could you please describe your methodology? By that I mean who your sample was, how many, and the actual question asked?. Thank you

  6. Terry Calvert says:

    I’d like to see this graph reproduced with the a graph showing how the various sections of the media behaved towards each individual and how that onslaught of negative publicity towards Jeremy Corbyn has created a bias in people’s thinking towards him

  7. Leo says:

    Thanks very much for the comments. The previous posts in the series (which I started as soon as Corbyn became leader – this isn’t something I’ve just started to highlight how he’s doing now) go a little more into the methodology:

    In short, this is the % that say they would vote Labour in published polls. I’ve taken the data from Mark Pack’s comprehensive spreadsheet of post-war polls. It doesn’t go as far back as when Attlee became Labour leader.

    I would like to include Tory leaders and will do so if I get time. Putting the data together carefully is quite a time-consuming job. I prioritised Labour leaders as it seemed the most relevant comparison.

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