Corbyn the man to lead Labour?

Should Labour be further ahead in the polls than they currently are?

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Is Jeremy Corbyn the man to lead Labour to election victory?

By Joe Harker

The 2017 General Election saw the Conservatives throw away a majority and major gains being made by Labour, their main opposition. Theresa May called an election at a time when she thought the Tories would claim a decisive victory and gain a huge majority, but it backfired and her government is weaker than ever.

Many were surprised at how well Labour and its leader Jeremy Corbyn had done and the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn appeared to be an achievable goal for the future.

Since then the government has lurched from one disastrous sideshow to another while the Brexit negotiations have gone from bad to worse. Labour has been outpolling the Tories for most of that time and appears ready for another election at a moment's notice. That state of being may be what has kept Theresa May in power, as removing her as Prime Minister may trigger another election. However, when looking at the polling numbers and shambolic government there is a feeling that Labour should be further ahead in the polls.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair believes that Labour should be 20 points ahead in the polls. He praised the election campaign run by Corbyn that "showed a lot of character" and "generated a lot of enthusiasm" but wondered why the opposition weren't doing better. Blair stuck the boot into the Tories as well, unfavourably comparing them to the party that he defeated in 1997. He said: "Even in the 1990s the Tory government was a paragon of stability compared with this and yet we are a couple of points ahead and, I think I'm right that he's not yet ahead of her as prime minister.

"So, I pay tribute to all of that but I still say come on guys, we should be 15, 20 points ahead at this stage."

Writing in the New Statesman, Stephen Bush suggests that Labour is "drifting, rather than marching towards power". He believes it is on the way to government, but is not as decisive as it could be.

One of the weaknesses of Labour could be one of its greatest strengths. There is little doubt that Jeremy Corbyn has been a major part of the party's resurgence over the last couple of years, but he may also be holding back the party from taking votes from certain demographics.

YouGov polling on Corbyn suggests that there is a consistent presence of voters who dislike him. As popular as he is with certain demographics, there are others that appear to dislike him intensely. While he has won Labour support in certain areas and encouraged more young people to vote, a demographic that is particularly positive towards him, older voters are less so and there may be some portions of the electorate that he will never win over.

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Jeremy Corbyn needs only 1,682 more votes in marginal constituencies to become prime minister

  • Labour must win only 11 seats from the Conservatives to be in a position to form a government.

  • That could require moving as few as 1,682 votes nationally, in the most marginal constituencies.

  • Polling expert Prof. John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde says Labour needs only a 1.5% swing to defeat the Conservatives.

  • But that's going to be more difficult than it sounds because the Tories are actually continuing to gain votes nationally.

The latest voting intention poll from ICM for the Guardian puts Labour and the Conservative parties neck and neck, on 42% each, if a general election was held tomorrow.

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