Regardless of who becomes leader, the polls look bad for Labour

55 per cent of those questioned feel that the Labour Party does not respect or understand the views of its voters


Last week the Westminster bubble was electrified by the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn taking over as Labour leader in September, after a YouGov poll put him in the lead.

But before ballot papers arrive on the door mats of party members and supporters next month, they would do well to consider YouGov’s polling published yesterday for the Sunday Times.

It looked at the views of the public at large, rather than just party members – the very same public who will ultimately determine if the party gets back into Downing Street – and proves sobering reading for all concerned.

Firstly, 36 per cent of those questioned now have a more negative view of the party as a result of the way it has conducted itself since the election, with just 4 per cent saying they felt more positively towards it.

On the question of which leadership candidate would make it more likely that the public would vote Labour, the results show a complete lack of enthusiasm for any of them.

Jeremy Corbyn comes out on top, with 12 per cent saying they would be more likely to vote Labour if he was leader. 9 per cent said the same about Andy Burnham, 8 per cent about Liz Kendall and 7 per cent about Yvette Cooper.

The majority of voters simply concluded that it would not make a difference to them who was leader, or that they did not know enough about the candidates. The sense of ‘could not care less’ is palpable and worrying.

Asked about their attitude to the direction Ed Miliband took the party in, 27 per cent argued that he took it too far to the left, with 21 per cent telling YouGov that he did not take the party to the left enough. Just 13 per cent said Miliband got the direction about right, whilst 39 per cent were not sure.

Interestingly though, looking at where the party should go in the future, 26 per cent thought the party needed to move further to the left and 27 per cent thought it needed to become less left wing.

60 per cent of those questioned concluded that Labour is unlikely to win the 2020 General Election, a view shared privately by many in the parliamentary Labour party. More worryingly still, 55 per cent of those questioned felt that the Labour Party does not respect or understand the views of its voters.

YouGov went on to ask those polled about their attitudes towards Labour’s stance on welfare reform which caused such difficulties for Harriet Harman. 38 per cent of respondents argued that the party should have simply opposed the government’s changes to benefits, 34 per cent said it should have supported them.

For those wanting more numbers, Ipsos Mori’s political monitor for the month finds that 27 per cent of those questioned feel Andy Burnham has what it takes to be a good prime minister, ahead of Yvette Cooper about whom 22 per cent of voters felt this way. 17 per cent said the same about Jeremy Corbyn, and 16 per cent about Liz Kendall.

Voters were also asked which of David Cameron’s potential successors has what it takes to be a good prime minister. Among the public Boris Johnson has a clear lead – 32 per cent say he has what it takes, followed by 28 per cent who say the same about Theresa May and 23 per cent about George Osborne.

Among Conservative supporters the race is much closer, with 47 per cent saying Boris has what it takes to make a good prime minister and 45 per cent saying the same about George Osborne and Theresa May.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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