A new YouGov poll, commissioned by The Times (paywall), shows that support for Jeremy Corbyn within the party membership is at its highest ever. These latest findings throw down a gauntlet to Labour MPs considering a coup, and illustrate how futile an attempt would be to depose the Labour leader.
Calls for Corbyn to step down by vexed Labour MPs have slowed since the recent non coup-worthy local election results. But since his leadership election in September 2015, there has been constant drone-like messaging from disgruntled parliamentarians that Corbyn will be taken out at some stage.
However, it seems that the Labour membership will not tolerate a top down hijacking of the party, and are more satisfied with the leader now than when he was first voted in.
According to The Guardian, the YouGov poll found that 50% of members would vote for Corbyn again, and another 14% would “probably” do so. Corbyn won the leadership contest with just under 60% of the vote, suggesting that his support is increasing.
YouGov carried out a similiar poll in November 2015, and have noted a considerable difference in Corbyn’s ratings between then and now:
Across a range of key indicators, 72 per cent think he is doing a good job, up from 66 per cent in November. The proportion who think he is “competent” has risen from 41 per cent in November to 45 per cent now.
The poll also found that 49% of members believe the Labour party will win the next general election with Corbyn as leader. On the subject of whether Corbyn is likely to enter Downing Street, the poll discovered:
A greater proportion of members now believe that Mr Corbyn will become prime minister at some point. Some 47 per cent say he is likely to enter Downing Street, compared with 46 per cent who say he is unlikely to do so. In November 40 per cent thought it likely and 50 per cent unlikely.
These new membership ratings indicate satisfaction with Corbyn’s efforts as Labour leader over the last nine months. And although Blairites like Peter Mandelson continue to warn that he is “unelectable in the country” as a whole, the latest ICM poll for The Guardian suggests that Labour is also gaining nationwide, and narrowing in on the Tories’ lead. This is no small feat in the face of the overtly hostile media coverage since the start of his tenure.
However, the results of this particular poll could also reflect a level of anger in the membership. MPs who plot a leadership coup do not solely threaten Corbyn, they imperil the very system on which the party works. If a candidate who is initially selected by MPs, and then elected by the membership, can be ousted at the whim of those self-same MPs, what is the point of the vote? And what role does the membership actually have?
At this stage, the continued rumblings of a coup only serve to embolden members to rally behind Corbyn, because it protects their own power as well as his. Disgruntled MPs would be wise to drop the issue. The focus can then fully move to what the Labour leader is actually doing, or proposing for a future Labour government. That is the only way to find out whether he is truly electable on a national scale.
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