New polls today have Jeremy Corbyn at a new high satisfaction rating of -5. This was the highest of all party leaders with Farage on -6, Farron on -8 and Cameron on a new low of -19.
With the leader of the opposition the ‘most satisfying’ leader and the Prime Minister the least, one would think that Labour would be leading in the polls. Yet in the last 3 polls Labour has averaged 33 per cent to the Conservatives’ 38.
In the current political climate with the junior doctors’ strike, the steel crisis, the new omnishambles budget, open Conservative party warfare, and the plummeting credibility of the Prime Minister and his Chancellor, this should not be the state of affairs. The Labour Party should be in a significant polling lead, not a 5 per cent deficit and merely talking of mitigating losses in the upcoming elections.
When one looks at the leaders’ approval ratings one must question why the voting intention polls tell a different story and why the ‘Bitterites’ aren’t satisfied with the UK’s most popular leader. It is when one looks at the trait-by-trait polls that things become clearer.
Despite the Prime Minister being the least satisfying and Corbyn the most, it is he, the PM, who is seen as the most patriotic; having a clear vision for Britain; having a lot of personality, having sound judgement; being good in a crisis and a capable leader. Jeremy loses out on all of these fronts; on most of them significantly. The lights on the dashboard are indicating engine failing and they can’t be ignored for much further down the road.
Mr Corbyn’s only clear victories are being seen as having less style than substance (maybe a perceived lack of one rather than an abundance of the other), and being honest, which he won handsomely.
This should be incredibly worrying for anyone who wants a Labour government, indeed it will be for those who need one. It is this time last year that Ed led on honesty, being more in touch and lacking style (which, as a member of the Milifandom, I adoringly refute). He even led on many policy issues such as the safe zone of the NHS, housing and fairer taxation.
Yet he was devastatingly defeated. A party and leader that was perceived as out of touch, more style than substance and less honest won. Although Labour’s lead in these are admirable, unfortunately they not characteristics that significantly influence how people vote. It is perceptions of capability, strength and most importantly the credibility of the leader that decided who Britons wanted as PM last May.
If the current leadership team want to provide themselves with breathing space from ‘core group hostile’ then they need to address the warning lights on the dashboard. There must be a greater focus on the issues that matter to the public, and the characteristics that matter to them most in a Prime Minister.
The warning lights are flashing. It isn’t the driver that’s the problem, the whole vehicle’s breaking down. Whoever is at the wheel needs deal with it. If the current driver can address the flashing lights then he should not be demoted to the back seat regardless – he must be allowed to try. But if he fails, if the lights continue to flash, then the current driver may find himself on his bike and a backseat driver indicating in a different direction.