These new polling figures are absolutely dire:
It isn’t news that Jeremy Corbyn’s views on a variety of touchstone political issues – defence, immigration, welfare – are outside the mainstream of British public opinion, but really. These figures are absolutely dire. Let nobody persuade you otherwise.
People who voted Labour in 2015 generally support him – well, 43 percent of them do, compared to 77 percent of Tory voters who support the prime minister. People who are still at school or university back Corbyn on balance.
That, folks, is as good as it gets.
Rejected by men, rejected by women. Rejected by all age groups, young and old. Rejected by all wealth brackets. Rejected in every corner of England, including London. Rejected by whites. Rejected by non-whites. Rejected by people in every form of living arrangement, from homeowners to social renters.
These figures are absolutely dire. I would question whether any opposition leader has ever tanked so far, so fast.
What makes them so bad is that not only is Corbyn – predictably – failing to win over Tory and Ukip voters, or that he shows little sign of cutting through with the “missing millions” of non-voters whom Corbynistas misplace so much faith in. It is that even among demographics where he ought to be doing well, people whom his political worldview ought to assist, he is struggling – net disapproval among 16-24 year olds, worse ratings than David Cameron among 25-39 year olds, struggling badly among renters. These are people who back Labour. These are people who even backed Ed Miliband.
It is hard to imagine a Labour leader doing worse.
There’s an element of misfortune to it all. The media, predictably, have given him a rough ride – but his job description is to deal with that, not succumb to it or worse, feed it. Meanwhile, circumstance has ensured that immigration and national security are high up voter priorities, when Corbyn’s focus is on transforming Labour’s economic policy – reflected by his appointments of moderates as shadow home, foreign and defence secretaries, with radical John McDonnell as shadow chancellor. It was economic policy that Corbyn wanted to focus on – coming at a time when support for Tory austerity and even welfare cuts is fading.
But Corbyn is a conviction politician, a man of principle – which is what voters say they want until they’re actually offered one – and his lifelong views on immigration, war and nuclear weapons, which most voters disagree with, are not ones that he can idly toss aside. Hence Labour’s ongoing meltdown, and Corbyn’s crashing personal ratings.
The worst aspect of this is that once public perceptions of a leader are formed, they are hard to shift. Party voting intention can shift dramatically over time, with large leads for one party wiped out when it really matters – just ask Ed Miliband. But once voters decide they don’t like a party leader, that’s it – they’re not going to like him. Just ask Ed Miliband.
Any opposition leader always needs an economic crisis in order to become prime minister – this is the core tenet of British politics.
What is different about Corbyn is that he may need an economic crisis simply to survive as opposition leader.