The Tories may be steaming ahead in the national opinion polls but the Labour grassroots are still pleased with Jeremy Corbyn. According to a new poll from The Times and YouGov — who surveyed the Labour membership during the leadership contest and predicted Corbyn’s victory — two thirds of members think the leader is doing ‘well’. He continues to have the overwhelming support of those who backed him during the leadership contest too: 83 per cent of this group say he is doing well.
It’s not just the Corbyn backers within Labour who are pleased with his performance — almost half of those who voted for Andy Burnham this summer think the leader is doing well, as do 29 per cent of Yvette Cooper’s backers. To contrast this with the national picture, ComRes put the Tories on 42 per cent of voting intentions this weekend, with Labour trailing 15 points behind on 27 per cent.
The disconnect does not end here. 57 per cent of Labour members say Corbyn should lead Labour into the next general election, compared to 28 per cent of the general public. 29 per cent of the public think the government should change tack on the economy vs. 86 per cent of Labour backers. The polling also highlights a gap between the views of Labour party members and supporters on some issues. Almost fifty per cent of Labour voters back airstrikes in Syria, compared to 30 per cent of Labour supporters and 16 per cent of Corbyn backers.
There are two possible explanations of what’s going on here. Either Labour is digging itself deeper into a cubby hole, burying itself away from mainstream politics, or we are facing another polling disaster. Given that YouGov’s polling of the Labour membership was accurate during this summer’s leadership race, it seems unlikely their data is at fault.
In reality, the more likely explanation is that Labour is dragging itself away from mainstream public opinion and focusing on its core supporters. This may give Team Corbyn a warm, fuzzy glow about building a big grassroots movement, but it won’t do them much good at ballot box. The Oldham West by-election next Thursday should give us a better idea of what ordinary voters think of Labour right now.