Sebastian Payne

Jeremy Corbyn: the most unpopular new opposition leader in the history of polling

Jeremy Corbyn: the most unpopular new opposition leader in the history of polling
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Labour’s conference in Brighton might not have been the disaster some expected but it hasn’t done much for Jeremy Corbyn’s standing with the public. A new YouGov/Sun poll shows the Labour leader’s personal rating is minus eight — the lowest since polls of new opposition leaders began with Hugh Gaitskell in 1955. As the chart below shows, Corbyn is eight points lower than Michael Foot in 1980 and Iain Duncan Smith in 2001. This rating also puts him 34 points behind Ed Miliband in 2010.

This poll follows a trend: Ipsos MORI’s first tracker for Corbyn put him on minus three in their net satisfaction ratings — five points behind Foot in November 1980 and 22 points behind Miliband in October 2010. While these dire numbers would traditionally alarm political strategists, it’s unlikely the Corbynites will be particularly bothered. In the so-called New Politics, newspapers, polls and everything Westminster feasts upon is irrelevant to what is apparently going on in the streets. For example, the official @JeremyCorbyn4PM account has been tweeting about an anti-austerity rally outside the Tory conference on Monday:

Whenever Corbyn does quit, his supporters will blame articles (like this one) that they believe created an unfair image of their man and didn't give him a chance. Going by the numerous attacks on the media in Corbyn's conference speech, the Corbynite mindset is to blame everyone else for unpopularity. Given the dreadful start Corbyn has had — the nuclear weapons fiasco, policy u-turn after u-turn, his lacklustre conference speech, the national anthem saga — a minus eight rating isn’t that surprising. But don’t expect his supporters to accept they are stumbling towards disaster, nor for Labour to try and oust him soon. Given the huge support Corbyn has within the Labour grassroots, which was on display for all to see in Brighton, it's unlikely he'll be forced out before his platform has been tested at least once at the ballot box. May 2016 will be the first real test of how strong Corbyn's mandate is.