Theresa May is the most popular leader on record – the Left needs to figure out why

May has an unprecedented leadership score of 61

Theresa May is more popular than either Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair were during their best years, according to a new Ipsos MORI poll.

Since the 1970s, the pollster has been asking which of the party leaders would make ‘the most capable prime minister’. In their most recent survey, 61 per cent opted for May, compared to just 23 per cent for Jeremy Corbyn.

Thatcher’s high water mark was 48 per cent in 1983, while Blair hit 52 per cent in 2001.

The overall voter intention figures are no less disturbing, with the Conservatives hoovering up support both from UKIP and from Labour, bringing them up six points to 48 per cent.

May’s personal approval will have a huge impact on June’s election, but many on the Left remain mystified by her popularity. Across the progressive space, party strategists must devote significant attention to understanding the effectiveness of Brand May, the better to dismantle it ahead of 8 June.

See: For the first time since the 1850s, the Tories may take the majority of seats in Wales

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.

15 Responses to “Theresa May is the most popular leader on record – the Left needs to figure out why”

  1. Michael WALKER

    Well it’s simple.
    She has not got a record of opposing her own Party when in power, nor supporting terrorists, nor protesting, nor having a beard, nor of supporting 40 years out of date failed ideas..

    As any fool can tell.

  2. Boffy

    From the various vox pops and surveys that have been done, and from what May and her Cabinet themselves see as her strong point, it is that she is a strong leader who brooks no opposition. Indeed, she cannot tolerate opposition, as was seen with her attempts to prevent a democratic debate and vote in Parliament over Brexit, and her hostility to the courts stymying of her attempt to do that. It is seen in the way that she never answers questions in Parliament, because she cannot think on her feet, which is why she cannot stand opposition that might expose her actual weakness. It is seen in her adulation of people like Trump, who similarly cannot stand opposition, that exposes his ignorance, and the way that after Trump she went off to visit other dictators in the Gulf, and in Turkey. It is seen by her International Trade secretary who went off the the Phillipines to see the dictator Duerte there, who uses assassination squads, and was told by Liam Fox that Britain wanted a relationship with them that reflected their shared values!!!
    If all the vox pops and surveys are to be believed what Tory voters see as positive in May is that she models herself on these dictators what they want is country led by an Adolf Hitler or a Mussolini, in a skirt. They might well get one, and we will see what they make of it then.

  3. p.j.

    So that’s it then is it. Popularity is the ultimate aim. Everyone’s moral and ethical framework a moveable feast, in the search for approval from the witless and the self centered.

  4. Sonia Jacks

    Both of the points made are true but in the end one has to say large numbers of people don’t trust Jeremy, don’t believe him and don’t think he looks like a Prime Minister and they are the ones that have always voted Labour. We have a mountain to climb if May is not to get a landslide

  5. Jason Mundstuk

    Well, look who she’s compared to. Only the base-base wants Corbyn as PM. That’s obvious, isn’t it? He may be ideologically pure/appealing to that base, but only them. The left does not have a leader or program that appeals to the electorate.

  6. Michael WALKER

    Godwin’s Law applies.

    You have failed…off to the State Concentration Camps.

    What a load of rubbish . Blair met Ghaddafi and Corbyn talked to the IRA.and Hamas. No doubt both are fascists according to your logic..

  7. Will

    Michael WALKER
    Thatcher talked to the IRA as well but the difference was that she lied about it at the time.

  8. Michael WALKER

    “Thatcher talked to the IRA as well but the difference was that she lied about it at the time.”

    Mrs Thatcher did. But she also never said the following:
    “I’m happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland.”
    That was Jeremy Corbyn – the man of peace. Except when teh people fighting are killing UK citizens..

    He is totally unsuited by his own words and actions to be an MP of this country.. let alone the PM. Fortunately the electorate are not as stupid as the Labour Party and are going to reject both him and his supporters in June – decisively if the polls prove even half correct.

  9. ted francis

    Oh Mickey you’re at it again, mixing fact with fiction and ignoring history. A certain dictatorial right-wing leader used the words “strong” and “strength” over and over again in all kinds of contexts…..though with the Head Teacher there’s very little prospect of “joy”!

  10. Michael WALKER

    ted francis
    So you are comparing Mrs May with people who imprisoned and tortured and killed their opponents. And ruled by decree without Parliamentary approval. And could only be ousted from power by revolution?

    Hyperbole from you means you are simply not credible.
    Hint: Democracy means that for years the Party and causes you support may be unfashionable and out of power.

  11. Boffy


    Its not talking to dictators or unsavoury characters that is the point, but that we are told in soundbite after soundbite that it is being a “strong leader” that May is fashioning herself as being, and that this is “strongpoint”, the thing that voters want in a leader.

    Neither Corbyn nor Blair made any pretence that their meetings with the IRA were about them sharing the IRA’s politics or modelling themselves on them. Both sought to find an end to the conflict. And I see nothing wrong with Corbyn’s statement that he celebrated those fighting for freedom in Ireland, against a British colonial occupation. If there was something wrong with such a struggle people would not now be eulogising over Mandela, we would not see George Washington in the same light, and the French Resistance would be considered nothing more than terrorists.
    The point is that May’s popularity seems to be the projection of the qualities of a strong leader, of an Il Duce, and we are continually told by Linton Crosby, by the Tory frontbench, by the Tory media, the obsequious guests on TV Press Preview programmes, and in every vox pop of the “public” that it is this kind of strong leader that they want, like the woman in the Stoke by-election who told the TV that she thought it would be okay for Britain to be ruled by Trump.

    Well with Brexit and the Tories she will get her way as Bojo has shown in his recent comment that if Trump wants to start another way in the middle east, Britain will be there to act as his loyal footsoldiers without any vote in Parliament that might get in the way of the Tories sucking up to his needs. Britain at least got to elect MEP’s, and appoint Commissioners etc. as a member of the EU, but now they will just have to toe the line of whatever the US president and Congress tells them.

    Trump will should “Jump”, and Bojo and May will reply in unison, “Yes, sir. How high sir.”

  12. Michael WALKER

    “t. And I see nothing wrong with Corbyn’s statement that he celebrated those fighting for freedom in Ireland, against a British colonial occupation. I”

    So you think supporting people who kill British citizens is a good thing? Obviously yes.

    No wonder Corbyn is despised and Labour are losing with sentiments like yours..

  13. Boffy


    Neither I nor Corbyn have said we think people killing British citizens is a good thing. I don’t think its good if Palestinians kill Israeli civilians either, ot that members of the ANC sometimes killed civilians in South Africa.

    But, I do think that Irish people have a right to oppose a British occupation of their country, just as much as Falkland Islanders had a right to fight against an Argentinian occupation of their island. The fact that I disagree with the tactic used by those involved in fighting for their freedom does not change the principle of defending people’s right to fight for self-determination, and when you are fighting against a much more powerful occupying force, then as the French Resistance found, playing by the same rules is likely to result in your defeat.

  14. Michael WALKER

    “Neither I nor Corbyn have said we think people killing British citizens is a good thing.”

    Corbyn steadfastly has refused to condemn the killing of UK citizens by the IRA.

    So by implication, he approves of the killings.
    LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn is being criticised over his links with the IRA after campaigning in Warrington, where a terrorist bomb attack killed two young boys in 1993.”

    Note the date: even today he approves of it..

  15. Boffy

    I’ve heard Corbyn condemn the killing of civilians. Refusing to say that having talks with the IRA was a bad idea, is not at all the same thing. If it were then the talks that Thatcher’s government had with the IRA would also have to be similarly condemned. Even Lizzy Windsor could come around to shaking the hand of McGuinness, and sending condolences to his widow. It seems that you are to attached to the past for your own good. If it was up to you it appears we would still have troops on the streets of Ireland, probably from your sentiments the whole of Ireland not just the North.

    As for killing civilians and committing cold blooded murders, an apologist for the British state like yourself is hardly in a position to criticise, given the role of Britain over the centuries, let alone the mass murder of civilians in Dresden by British bombing etc.

    Anyway, the good news is that you may not have to worry about ireland much longer, because the EU are making the arrangements for it to be reunited with the South. With Northern Ireland voting by a significant majority to Remain in the EU, and with Protestant families in the North not still living in the sectarian past that you still inhabit, and instead looking to protect the living standards of their families for the future, a United Ireland now looks a certainty in the not too distant future. Then its just a matter of signing up Scotland and Wales to such a new British state, and then allowing the metropolitan regions to join as and when, and medievalists like yourself can be left alone in your own little world to fester.

Leave a Reply