Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is performing considerably worse in the polls than when the party was headed by far-left leader Michael Foot during one of its darkest hours.
Foot led the party to one of its worst ever electoral performances when it was crushed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives in the 1983 general election. The party won just 27.6% of the vote share and lost 52 seats in the Commons.
Like Corbyn, Foot was a veteran socialist whose hard-left views put him at odds with most of his own MPs. However, even Foot’s Labour was performing better in the polls than the party under Corbyn’s leadership.
That’s according to polling analyst Matt Singh, who Business Insider interviewed on Thursday.
Singh, who founded the Number Cruncher Politics blog, rose to fame in the world of politics last year when he correctly predicted the outcome of the general election when many other pollsters got it wrong. He spoke to us about Labour, Corbyn, and a number of other issues related to political opinion polls.
Asked how Corbyn’s ratings compare to Foot, Singh said: “In terms of personal ratings, it’s broadly similar or even slightly worse for Corbyn… In terms of overall party performance, he’s doing quite a bit worse.
“When Michael Foot first came in he actually got a bit of a bounce and was on 40 to 45% — perhaps even higher than that. He was in the lead.”
- FULL INTERVIEW: Matt Singh talks to BI about Brexit, Labour, and the US election
He added: “As we approach the mid-term and get away from the election, the government of the day tends to drop back and the opposition will tend to do better.
“To put it into perspective, at this point in the last parliament, Labour under Ed Miliband was about 7-points ahead of the Conservatives. That’s a net 18-point difference.
“Maybe there’s a bit of an exaggeration, maybe there’s a honeymoon effect for Theresa May, but even if you allow for all of that, this is a very significant lead for the Conservatives. If it is wrong, it will be that it’s even worse for Labour.
“However you cut it, it looks bad.”
Corbyn is the overwhelming favourite to win the Labour leadership contest despite being severely unpopular with the general public. A YouGov poll published this week gave the Islington North MP a 24-point lead over challenger Owen Smith — 62% to 38%.
The results of the same poll showed that nearly half of Labour members (44%) who intend to vote for Corbyn in the contest don’t believe he can win the next election. It is clear Corbyn’s supporters will remain loyal to his leadership regardless of what polling data tells them.
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