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

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

16 Responses to “Regardless of who becomes leader, the polls look bad for Labour”

  1. stevep

    I`m not surprised people don`t feel Labour respects or understands the needs of voters.
    It doesn`t respect or understand itself.
    Pardon me if I`m a bit thick, but it says it on the tin: “LABOUR”. Set up by and for the working people of Britain.

    If Labour still stands for working people, then let`s have policies for working people. let`s think Social Democracy and people power.
    Or do Labour think working people don`t really mind Poor wages, high rents, lack of affordable housing, the bedroom tax, payday lenders, food banks etc. etc. which are the inevitable fruits of Capitalism.
    Have many Labour MP`s actually worked in factories, offices, transport etc. on the shop floor? or have they mostly gone from University into arses-on-seats jobs and then into politics?
    If Labour demonstrates support for working people, then it will get votes from working people.
    if it doesn’t, we might have to start a political party that does.

  2. Lesley1

    The fact that so many see Idle Boris as a good leader, shows that many of the people interviewed are morons

  3. Martyn Wood-Bevan

    I’m glad that most teachers were graduates, not just your ordinary man/woman in the street – where would we have got. Economics is not a simple thing and most people don’t really understand the field. Maybe it’s time we had a different name as “Labour`’ does not imply a “One Nation” approach.

  4. stevep

    Teachers are great, as are most professionals. Yes, they have more knowledge than the man in the street, but can they impart that knowledge, in a simple way, to the wider populace?
    The Tories did, and do, with simplified household economic speak. It`s not relevant to the wider economics of Britain, but it`s widely accepted.
    The Tragedy of Labour is that they have never counteracted it with equal simplicity.

  5. Gary Hills

    This nonsense that if you are not hard left in the party then you do not care is just that. This is not 1910. Why Labour was created then has no resemblance on what the public think and feel about politics today. And it makes not a jot of difference what principles people have if they can never be elected. Political views evolve all the time because its the wider public that sets them. Get out of step with them too much and the people you do not want to have power will have it.

    Contrary to the believe Labour under Labour never ignored working people, in fact Blair achieve more for working people then any other Labour leader. He achieved because he was in the centre and therefore society as a whole was backing the balanced direction he took. By that it means he has messages that help all in society. Which he summed up nicely, for the many not the few,

    Now there is nothing wrong with that approach and its needed again. The wider public do not have tribalism to vote for Labour any more, there is more competition for votes and Labour cannot win by just appealing to one section of society.

    Its not enough to shout from the sidelines at the Tories which is all Corbyn will do, you have to win to Govern to make a difference to improves peoples lot in life. Labour will never do that with policy’s the wider public disagrees with or thinks are extreme and they wont see Corbyn as a potential PM so they wont vote for him.

  6. stevep

    If the Blair government achieved more for working people than any other Labour leader, then how come the majority of working people of lower management and under have less pay, worse conditions and work harder than they did 20 years ago? I tore my hair out during the Blair years, on the shop floor, watching it happen. They could have given workers power to change things. They didn`t. That told me a lot.
    If Blair achieved more than any other Labour leader for British workers, I`ll bet Clement Atlee is spinning in his grave.
    large sections of the UK have disowned Labour because they don`t know what they stand for any more. It isn`t enough anymore to fudge and spin your way into power, trying to be all things to all people. The country has moved on, even since the election almost three months ago.
    After the coming shambles of the EU in/out vote and 2 or 3 more years of year zero austerity, the electorate will be gagging for a Labour leader that says it like they mean it and pledges policies to drag Britain back from the abyss of hard right Capitalism.


    Labour actually believed in hard work and tax payers paying for public services. That is why they introduced the welfare system. It was not introduced for a dependency lifestyle and millions wasted on immigrants and moreso fuckin lawyers.


    Teachers have more knowledge than the man in the street. Seems they are reluctant to impart this knowledge. Try walking around major British streets at the weekend. Knuckle dragging contests abound.

  9. stevep

    Hark! is that the sound of banjo`s.

  10. stevep

    I know what you mean.
    There are people out there who can barely function, let alone think. It`s worrying.


    And I was only referring to the middle class. Do not worry water has been found on Pluto.


    MWB. If people who work and labour then I would have thought Labour was the most appropriate name and represents all workers.

  13. Harold

    It is not just Labour the polls look bad for but anyone who does not vote Tory and indeed many of the Tory voters as the recent weeks have proved. As the chance of any other Political Party other than Labour winning the 2020 election are so unlikely I would invite anyone who believes an alternative will win to take their hard earned money to the bookies at once.

    But equally I understand the publics reaction or at least some of it, what does Labour stand for? I would rather have a fight were Labour lost but put forward strong alternative arguments then this Tory lite rubbish. Labour has forgotten how to do politics how to win, bit like a Spurs supporter always harking back to the glory days. Locally Labour Councillors and Councils would appear popular on the whole they do an excellent job in the communities, this needs transferring to the national stage.

    May I make one suggestion if Labour had proposed a cut in VAT to 13% just before the election, as a way of helping business and customers, along with a claim it would grow the economy would this be a “political” move which voters would approve of? The Torys have cut 2% of Corporation Tax which equates to about £2.5Bn tax cut for Companies, which on one appeared to question, without the aim of stimulating the economy. This may or may not be popular but it is policies that catch the electorates attention which will win elections.

  14. David Bell

    YouGov’s polling may well be suspect. YouGov know my clear political allegiance, so I often find I am ‘selected’ for particular polls and not for others. Probably going the same way as the BBC which is a shame.

  15. Patrick Lilley

    “I would rather have a fight were Labour lost but ….”

    I suspect you speak for the many and not the few.

    What is the point of shouting outside of 10 Downing Street, DHSS etc etc and never being able to influence really what happens inside govt?

    The JCs of this world perpetually rebelling against even their own govt.

    1997-2010 = Min Wage, LGBT Equality legislation, Human Rights Act, Freedom of Infomation Act, better resourced and better results in NHS meaning greater satisfaction and shorter waiting times, new hospital schools and hospital buildings… and for most of the period a growing economy… with rising living standards…a country more at ease with itself.

    Then a credit cash caused by USA banks lending to the wrong to wrong ppl and a globalised banking crisis.

    Compare that to 2010 onwards… and then the Thatcher years.

    So what do you prefer?

    2015 onwards attacking our own side as Tory lite in a really nasty and mysoginistic way…. Cameron and Osborne Conservative governmetn attempting to repeal the lot and we will have Coryn or Cooper opposing each week at PMQ – cheers for us boos for them..

    Meanwhile back at the food bank the people are let down by Labour but all we got to Labour LIst and Twitter to object.

    What a sad state of affairs.

  16. Ivan Bell

    So What

Leave a Reply