Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for dividing Labour but there was one thing he said in his conference speech on Wednesday that all members should be able to agree on — the party has an “electoral mountain” to climb.
Now that Corbyn has successfully retained his leadership, his next challenge is making Labour a viable government in waiting.
The Tories have enjoyed a honeymoon in recent polls, with YouGov’s latest putting May’s party 11 points ahead of Corbyn’s Labour.
For context, Ed Miliband’s Labour led the Tories by 6-points at this stage in the last electoral cycle.
Glen O’Hara, a professor at Oxford Brookes University, has put together this chart to show how Labour’s recent performance in the polls compares to other points in history when it has been the opposition.
The red line represents Labour under Corbyn. As the chart shows, the party is going through one of most difficult periods ever.
There are still four years until the next election — unless May calls a snap election — meaning there is plenty of time for the polls to change. After all, as illustrated, Ed Miliband’s Labour was polling better than Tony Blair’s party at this point, but went on to lose the 2015 general election.
But for Labour to be this far behind in the polls and go on to win the next election would be totally unprecedented.
Michael Foot, who like Corbyn was a distinctly left-wing leader, led Labour to one of its most crushing defeats at the 1981 general election, having spent most of his leadership performing very poorly in the polls.
All historical data available to us says Corbyn’s Labour will suffer a similar fate unless something totally drastic takes place.
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