Another day another poll putting the calamitous Tories ahead of Labour and the proven utterly incompetent May ahead of Corbyn, what can you make of that?
OK, let’s put aside how wrong the pollsters and the commentariat have been over the ALL of the most recent significant elections (which includes how badly Labour were going to do in the most recent local elections last year). I’ve talked before about what polling actually is but let’s put that aside as well and take a step back. If we simply accept that Labour are not as popular with the general voting public what are the problems?
I guess we can split the answers into two streams; the first is that public perception of the Tories is being managed effectively, so that people with just a casual interest in what is going on do not see the absolutely calamitous job the Tories are making in government. The general public do not see how utterly incompetent and weak Theresa May is. Is that possible? Well, yes, it is. I personally know people who have expressed the opinion that they think May is doing a good job and who don’t see the correlation between the disaster of the British economy with Tory policy since 2010. I find it remarkable but there it is, people who are not overtly politically engaged do not attach the condition of this country with the political party who are governing it.
I’m also reminded of some coverage of the Tory party conference this year, where a reporter took to the streets near the conference centre to ask people about their lives under the Tories. One person asked said they had voted Tory all their life, had been suffering under Tory Austerity but thought May would turn things round for them. The fact that that person had experienced nothing positive in their life under Tory governments (they were of an age to have lived under Thatcher) and that the rejuvenation of where they lived in Birmingham had occurred under Labour governments counted for nothing. They simply did not connect what Labour had done for them and what the Tories had done to them with what they thought politically.
People are living through tough times and it doesn’t matter what the Tories do in reality, as long as they make all the right noises about being tough on crime, scroungers, foreigners, whatever. So there are things which will affect Labour’s polling, over which they can have no control.
The second stream of problems for Labour’s perceived popularity then covers the party itself. It is clear that there has been a large movement against Jeremy Corbyn since he received his mandate to lead the party; the politico-media circus has been in turmoil that a political leader, who would rock their well established and self-serving boat, has been placed so close to power and could lead the country. From the very start, the efforts to undermine Corbyn’s leadership has been in effect and culminated with the disastrous ‘coup’ following the EU referendum. I have written at great length on the damage done to the public’s perception of Labour and the current leadership by those people who have haunted the party since 2007 and their hirelings. The same people have caused problems for the leaders since 2007, Corbyn has survived where others failed because his support base is the strongest Labour has ever known.
Labour faces potentially two problems for popularity. The first is that Labour has an element who identify themselves as Labour ‘supporters’ but who have proven that they are content to act against the party and attack the public’s perception of Labour if it serves their personal goals. Even though their ideology and politics was rejected by increasingly large numbers of the public since 1997 and even though their ideological experiment has failed the critical examination of history, they believe they are the only political answer for Britain and will not divert from that path. Among their number, their own greatest cheerleaders have identified that they do not possess a single candidate capable of leading Labour or the country. So Labour’s popularity will continue to suffer while these entryists undermine it from within, dealing with them must be Labour’s priority.
Labour’s second problem is the current leadership. Having been undermined by Labour’s right wing usurpers, the public’s perception of the current leadership is tainted. Jeremy Corbyn may continue to expose May for the sham that she is as Prime Minister during PMQs but that won’t necessarily aid his popularity. Granted, isolating the damage to Labour being done by those I have discussed above will go a long way to presenting the party to the public as a more cohesive force. Next up is using that force to present the strong policy platform which Labour currently has. There is no point in permitting Labour’s third string from representing Labour in the media as they are continuing the undermining that is causing all the damage. The current leadership need to ensure that front bench MPs, not the third string, are in the media; you have to question whether MPs who refuse to act in the interests of Labour should be in a position to represent themselves as Labour MPs.
Labour can concede the party to the already publicly rejected ghosts of a failed ideological experiment, which will not help its popularity, or it can isolate the usurpers and build a base on the current strong platform. Obviously, there will be calls to change the leadership itself but the most vociferous of those voices can only offer Tony Blair as a possible replacement which, with all due respect, is laughable. I’m sure the less vociferous voices would acknowledge that Labour has to rid itself of the wreckers within before they could expect to be able to fairly judge any current leader and it will be a cohesive team working from the strong platform that will increase the party’s popularity and, just maybe, its polling.