So we are experiencing some dire polling, both in terms of Corbyn and the Labour Party in general, and people are panicking. I, however am not one of them.
What mystifies me is the fact anyone expects any different. It’s not just the shocking case of 172 Labour MPs telling the electorate they have absolutely no confidence in the leader less than five months ago, it’s everything that went before; the briefing, the sniping, the downplaying of any positive results, the incessant talk of coups and smearing of the Corbyn supporting membership as a whole.
I wish one of the naysayers would explain why they think we should be polling well after all that! I’m not saying there are not improvements to be made in party messaging and operation, but even the most en point Leadership would lack the power to turn polls round that quickly. The anti-Corbyn MPs knew their antics would hit a Corbyn led Labour Party where it hurts, in our election chances, and unsurprisingly it has. To hand the party back to them, would be like giving a much loved car to the ‘joy riders’ who’d wrecked it, to reward them for making it impossible to sell.
To those who point to the way the May led government is starting to unravel, I say ‘only just’. And there are still millions of voters who feel they owe the Conservatives a debt of gratitude for giving them a referendum that allowed them to express their disdain for the EU. And if we factor the media into this equation, who’ve been a useful amplifier for all the anti-Corbyn MPs’ critiques from day one, it’s amazing Labour are still polling in the mid to late twentie’s.
Polling during the Labour leadership helped us go some way to understanding this steadfast support. When Labour voters were asked to express a preference between Corbyn and Smith for the leadership, they consistently chose Corbyn, despite his own colleagues telling them he was both incompetent and unelectable. Are these voters also to be deemed deluded, along with the Labour membership? Should they be swept aside and dismissed? Or maybe we should listen to these core voters, who clearly feel a sense of loyalty toward a leader who has given the party a clear sense of identity again.
Or maybe we should go down the ‘New Labour’ route, where labour voters are taken for granted; expected to remain compliant and loyal as their party goes on a fishing expedition for Tory votes. Except a mass exodus of five million voters under Blair and then Brown, would suggest this is a tactic we’d be wise to dismiss.
I want to make it clear I’m not complacent about the polls. Like many others, every time I see them my heart sinks. I want Labour to win the next General Election as much, if not more than any progress member. I’m just not running round like a headless chicken over them. I’d like to think we can turn them around in sufficient time to win the next General Election, but I even have doubts on that score. This past year has inflicted so much damage to the Labour brand, I can’t see how we can win back the trust of the electorate without the help of the Men in Black, stepping in to wipe their memories.
What I am sure of is this: we should not ditch Corbyn in favour of of one of the saboteurs who got us in this predicament. And we shouldn’t suddenly go soft on austerity and hard on immigration to woo Tories and Ukippers. Theresa May is looking weaker and weaker as each day goes by. Her PMQs performances are below par, while Corbyn is growing in confidence and stature. Brexit may yet throw up some nasty surprises for the nasty party which sends their current polling into sharp reverse.
It’s time for Labour to stop swinging in the wind like a confused weathervane; constantly chopping and changing our policies and message to suit the prevailing political weather. It only serves to confuse the electorate.
We need to stand our ground and send out our message like a beacon of hope. Because it’s a good message, and it’s the right message, and if we say it consistently and clearly enough, one day the electorate will see that too.