- Jeremy Corbyn is still viewed positively by Labour members
- But his approval rating has declined by a net margin 39%
- 41% blame the Labour leader for the historic defeat in Copeland
- Nearly two-thirds of members think it’s unlikely that Corbyn will ever be PM
LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn’s approval among Labour Party members has declined significantly over the past 12 months, according to new polling by Election Data.
Corbyn is still viewed positively by party members but his net approval has dropped by 39% since February 2016. His net score among members was +55% that month — but was just +17% in February this year.
The research was conducted by Ian Warren and collected responses from 1,096 current Labour members between 27th February and March 3. You can see the results of Warren’s in full here.
Corbyn has won two Labour leadership contests — in 2015 and 2016 — both by commanding majorities.
However, his decline in popularity among the Labour membership comes as the party continues to trail the Conservatives by double-digit margins in the polls and following a disastrous defeat in the Copeland by-election.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer said last week that Labour had “no prospect” of winning the next general election if its performance in the polls doesn’t improve. A senior source close to Corbyn agreed.
The members were split down the middle over how well they thought Corbyn was performing as Labour leader.
Just over half (51%) said that the veteran socialist was performing ‘well’, compared to just less than half (47%) who said he was performing ‘badly.’
Labour members also judged Corbyn to be single biggest factor in the party’s defeat during the recent by-election in Copeland.
Labour had previously controlled the west Cumbrian seat for over 80 years but surrendered it to the Tories last month. A major reason why so many 2015 Labour voters failed to turn out in 2017 was Corbyn’s well-documented opposition to the nuclear industry. The Sellafield nuclear power station provides jobs to over 10,000 local people.
Interestingly, the research revealed that although the majority of Labour members think it’s unlikely that Corbyn will ever be prime minister, he is still seen as the most ‘credible’ future PM when compared to other likely leadership candidates in the party.
As the tables below illustrate, 60% of respondents said it’s unlikely that Corbyn will ever become prime minister, but the Islington North MP is regarded as the most credible prime ministerial material.
Furthermore, a comfortable majority of members (47 > 35%) told Warren that Labour winning the next election would be unlikely, even if Corbyn is replaced as leader before 2020.
When members were asked who they’d vote for in a leadership contest if Corbyn did stand down, the most popular names were his shadow chancellor and close ally John McDonnell, and former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper.
McDonnell told the BBC on Sunday that he will “not stand for the Labour leadership ever again. Full stop.”
Chuka Umunna, Keir Starmer, and Clive Lewis made up the five most popular choices. Salford MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, who Corbyn’s circle regards a potential successor, had the support of just 10% of respondents.
The lack of popular alternatives suggests there is no real appetite among Labour members for yet another leadership contest.
The majority of members said that Corbyn had handled Labour’s approach to Brexit badly (53%). This is a bad sign for the Labour leader, given that Brexit was seen as the joint-most important issue currently facing Britain (66%).
Over 5,000 members quit Labour in the space of a week following Corbyn’s decision to impose a three-line-whip on MPs instructing them to vote in favour of Theresa May triggering Article 50, Politics Home reported.
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