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Corbyn will win a second contest, comfortably

CorbynYouGov’s latest polling in the Labour leadership election which gives Corbyn a twenty point lead on Owen Smith, combined with the news that 183,000 people have signed up as registered supporters to vote, should prove  to be enough confirmation to make predictions at this early stage. While affiliated supporters  can still be signed up through trade unions, and CLP nominations have only just begun, it is very hard to see how Owen Smith would get over 50% of the support. 

Polling in party leadership elections is much more unpredictably and even less of a scientific exercise than those of General Elections, yet YouGov’s polling last summer showed Corbyn in the lead from the first poll to the last. Polling between Friday 15th and Monday 18th showed Corbyn beating Owen Smith in a head-to-head among pre-2016 Labour members, by 56% to 34%, with around one in ten voters undecided. That is a huge lead for Smith to overturn in just a few weeks, as most members will fill out their votes either online or by post when voting opens in mid-August. Even some more negative polling results, from Labour councillors, actually shows a year-on-year increase for Corbyn from 2015.

To win the election, the Corbyn team simply need to repeat many of the same tactics as last summer, which saw the victor speak at over a hundred public events, some of them thousands-strong and called at very little notice. The only remaining opportunity for Smith to reshape the electorate in his favour is via affiliated supporters, signed up through the unions, but many Corbynites will do the same.

The social media landscape has shifted dramatically, too. While last summer Jeremy Corbyn was not a household name beyond those of us on the Labour Left, and the campaign’s brilliant social media strategy was built from scratch, this year the Jeremy Corbyn campaign Facebook page and official account boast a million likes combined. Can Owen Smith compete with that to get his message across?

Brexit and immigration will, according to some, prove a sticking point for many party members, and according to various news reports, plenty of those in the party are disappointed with Labour’s efforts in the campaign. Leaving aside the fact that Corbyn spoke at more Remain rallies than any other Labour MP, including the Labour In leader Alan Johnson, many party members simply don’t buy the PLP’s line that Corbyn didn’t pull his weight. Further to that, for many members the worry is now that the party will tack right on freedom of movement and immigration controls. The candidate best placed to allay those fears is Jeremy Corbyn.

Even Smith’s apparently unique selling points: that he can provide Corbynism without Corbyn, radicalism and competence, are slowly being unpicked for what they are. In just a week, Smith’s past working for Big Pharma company, Pfizer, is seeping into mainstream news, and despite a cringeworthy publicity piece in the Daily Mirror, a readers’ poll at the foot of the page showed 80% of readers still preferred Corbyn. If the Left wanted to find an ideal candidate to run against Corbyn to ensure that he won a second time, then an ex-corporate lobbyist who couldn’t make his mind up on the Iraq war and has abstained on welfare cuts, is quite close to the mark.

The election itself could prove an opportunity for Corbyn, beyond simply ensuring his re-election. While the £25 registered supporters scheme and freeze date have had the intended effect of preventing another huge membership surge, the Corybn campaign has around two weeks to effect one in the trade union movement, encouraging shop stewards to sign up their members before August 8th, for free, in order to vote to re-elect.

But the election should prove an opportunity for policy formation, and further staking a claim to Labour’s future. Unbound by the restrictions of Cabinet protocol, Corbyn, McDonnell and their teams can use the summer to put across more bold policy ideas and convince the membership not just of their vision, but their plans.

34 Comments

  1. Lyn Eynon says:

    Let’s not get complacent. Corbyn should win but we cannot take this for granted. We need to work through the summer to make sure it happens.

    1. Tony says:

      Absolutely!

      The voter purge is already underway as Kevin Maguire informs us in a scurrilous article that he has recently written.

      He says:

      “Jubilation among rebel Labour MPs on Tuesday evening at Angela Eagle dropping out to give Owen Smith a clear run against Corbyn was followed by what felt close to a wake on Wednesday night after news 184,000 registered supporters had paid £25 each, a figure subsequently reduced to a still considerable 140,000 after duplications and the overtly hostile were stripped out, to buy a vote in the leadership race.”

      Perhaps Katherine Harris could come over from Florida to lend her expertise in purging voter rolls.

      The full article can be read here for those who can bear to read it.

      https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/opinion/kevin-maguire-corbynistas-are-masters-now

  2. Ben says:

    I think the biggest risk for Corbyn is becoming complacent and being seen to be arrogant about his ‘mandate’. One of the things voters like about him is his reputation for being genuine, honest and principled. If he gets carried away and starts to sound arrogant he could be in trouble.

    Having said that Owen Smith is such a weak challenger. He was on BBC 2 News Night last night and would barely give a straight forward answer to any question. He seems to be trying to have it all ways – appealing to the modern left pro-EU pro-immigration side of the party but also trying to pitch himself as vaguely socially conservative and understanding of ‘old’ Labour voters desires to cap immigration. I.e. a typical Blairite trying to face both ways at once.

    1. Paul Dias says:

      Agreed on all accounts.

  3. It has never been sensible to have a leadership contest after only 9 months of a Corbyn leadership, and the poor political judgement of the MPs is evident from day one. Corbyn was put on the ballot paper by MPs who thought he could not win. The subsequent events showed that their political judgement was flawed, notably expecting a poor election performance in the May elections – which the polling experts supported, and not then adjusting their views when Corbyn proved to be mid table mediocrity but nowhere near poor enough to be challenged.

    It continues to be a saga of poor judgement. That none of the ‘big hitters’ challenged JC is a sign of little more than cowardice. Hilary Benn has never denied he was plotting, but then did not stand.

    But the most stupid of all the decisions is that of Michael Foster to go to court to get the decision of the NEC overturned. WE will know soon whether the courts agree with him, but it should never be forgotten that the rule book is a disasterous mess, and the PLP knew this and did not make revision a priority.

    This could have brought the party together as no party should ever have a rule book which denies its elected leader a place on the ballot paper, Thatcher had a place even though an electoral disaster by 1990. However one can only assume that the PLP majority thought they could exclude Corbyn and put their candidate in place by the back door, thus splitting the party.

    The political judgement of the PLP majority has been consistently poor, and they have never displayed any sign of understanding the collapse intellectually and politically of the old NEw Labour Project most of them benefitted from.

    Trevor FIsher.

  4. Ben says:

    The problem I see for the PLP is even if they do defeat Corbyn this will just be unfinished business for the left of the party and the member base because they will feel (with some justification) that Corbyn was never given a fair chance by the PLP or the media.

    They should have thrown their full weight behind Jeremy for at least 2 years and if it wasn’t working out by that point people may have been willing to move on…. as it is people are now backing Corbyn almost in spite of his questionable competence because they feel this is an unjust ‘stitch up’.

    The PLP keep repeating the ‘unelectable’ mantra and the media are acting like an attack dog non-stop, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever bar they set whether it was bye elections, local elections or the London mayoral election Corbyn met it and they immediately changed the goal posts.

    Disgusting.

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    The complacency here is a little bit worrying:

    “…the Corbyn team simply need to repeat many of the same tactics as last summer…”

    I think assuming the leadership election is already won is dangerous, and it’s never a good idea to just repeat what worked last time.

    We’re in a whole different political situation now than we were in last summer. And this leadership election is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    We need to be fleshing out a robust policy programme that takes account of the changed circumstances we’re now in.

    1. Lyn Eynon says:

      Agreed. In particular, this time we need clear policy on Europe.

  6. john P Reid says:

    it will be revealing, what areas of the country his vote is in,and If Owen gets more members votes than Jez, but Jez wins on the unions

    still there’s always 2018 when several councillors who backed Jez lose their seats and see what they’ve done

  7. Karl Stewart says:

    Owen Jones’s call for a second referendum is an open-goal gift to Corbyn.

    We’ve got to make the most we can of that one by putting forward a robust Labour-Brexit plan.

    1. Bill Brandwood says:

      I very much agree with this Karl. If any party wants to ignore the result of the referendum then good luck with that.

  8. Bill Brandwood says:

    My worry is that if Jeremy Corbyn wins then the PLP plotters may once again simply refuse to work with him and what will the left do about that? The ‘right’ who are not really the ‘right’ of a democratic party as I have said before are fairly confident that they carry on as before.

    Trevor is correct we need a rule book that is clear on what the rules are and not subject to interpretation by lawyers.

    We NEED to set out clearly that it is the members who will elect and remove the Leader and Deputy Leader. I suggest with any candidate only requiring a proposer and seconder in the PLP and say the nomination of 20% of Constituency Labour Parties? What do others think?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      I think there should be different rules depending on whether the party is in government or in opposition.

      If in opposition, then there should be a proper leadership election, and potentially along the lines you suggest but perhaps with the added proviso that deputy leader is elected after the leader so we can ensure gender balance (i.e. if a man is elected leader, the deputy leader candidates must only be women and vice-versa).

      If in government, I think it’s better if just the party’s MPs decide.

  9. June Knight says:

    DON’T BE ARROGANT!

    The recent news is that Labour has not been taking the money for voting, the £25. The register either gets a rejection of the money, or the Labour Party is missing taking it. The bank information will be saying £25 pending withdrawal, but the time to take this withdrawal by the Labour Party is passed.

    FULL OF TRICKS!

    You did not think that this easy quick offer of a 48 hr sign up and pay £25 was going to be that easy?

    As they say, if it looks good, it aint.

    You are such fools, that the reason we suffer and Labour and socialists are so shit is because of abusive, deceiving corruption, class war, rioting yob thugs, and because some are so naive and thick.

    I look forward to the day Mcnicol loses his job. Until then we are in the middle of deep machiavellian skullduggery, and one thing we do not need is the naivety of fools.

    One thing of those who fail and lose, you underestimate your enemy and you overestimate the loyalty and what your friends will do for you.

    Last night at a meeting a leading member of Brighton and Hove clp said they would never trust Ann Black again and will not be voting for her, as the suspension and the changes in voting rules were only past by 2, and Ann Black was one who voted them in. So why was Anne Black turned? And how can any democratic socialist or human rights, human suffrage party or person take away the right to vote, suspend local democratic parties and stop people having meeting and voting and discussing things in the most crucial time ever?

    Your friends are not your friends and your enemies are more reliable. At least they are consistent

    DON’T BE GULLIBLE, COMPLACENT AND NAIVE

  10. James Martin says:

    Unfortunately no mention of the unions from James Elliot, but they remain in my opinion crucial for a number of reasons. Yes, Corbyn can likely win without union endorsement, but the mandate is then weakened, particularly when it comes to being seen as representing the organised working class, and while OMOV in the unions has lessened the power of the Executive nomination/recommendation it has not taken it away entirely.

    Some unions are reasonably easy to predict – with those backing Corbyn highly likely to be ASLEF, BFAWU, FBU, TSSA, UCATT and Unite.

    Those backing Smith will almost certainly be Community and USDAW.

    The unknowns (unless anyone knows better) that really matter in terms of size and influence are perhaps CWU, GMB and Unison. Last time CWU and Unison both backed Jeremy, while GMB did not support any of the candidates.

    I would urge members of these three unions in particular to lobby hard at every level of the union for support for Corbyn.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      I’m a member of GMB and I expect the new GS, Tim Roche, will probably back Owen Jones (unfortunately). Hope I’m wrong.

      1. John Penney says:

        Karl, you constantly refer to Owen Smith as “Owen Jones”, which is a tad confusing. Owen Jones the journalist and previous ” voice of Left Yoof” does appear to have “supped the Guardian Coolade” and gone Rightwards apace – but he is not standing for Leader (yet).

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Ooops, point taken (although there isn’t much difference ha ha!)

          1. John Penney says:

            Yes indeed , Karl. I bet a quid that within 10 years Owen Jones is writing for the Spectator – boring us all with his pompous articles about “seeing the light” after the mistakes of his “radical youth” !

            I always had Owen pegged as a complete opportunist – his dad was a Militant/RS organiser, so young Owen learnt the patter of the Left, but before gaining a profile for “yoof radicalism” on the back of his book “Chavs” Owen Jones had a background in Left activism of precisely NOTHING !

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            People who have known him tell me he loves to hitch a ride on any passing bandwagon, but ‘p***** his pants’ as soon as the going gets tough.

          3. Paul Dias says:

            As I remember, Owen Jones was one of the very few mainstream journos to come out in favour of Jeremy Corbyn during the 2015 leadership election, and I do believe his support helped to raise Jeremy’s profile.

            And he has recently had this to say about the plotters:

            “Launching a coup in the Labour Party at this moment has diverted attention away from those responsible for this national crisis — not least by staggering resignations to ensure Labour’s woes dominate the news cycle for as long as possible”

            https://medium.com/@OwenJones84/my-thoughts-on-the-plight-of-labour-38413229f88#.t0p082q6x

            Owen Smith he is not.

          4. John Penney says:

            You need to get with the curremnt poitical direction of Owen Jones, Paul Dias. I’m afraid Owen Jones has quite explicitly , at this critical time, refused to support the continuation of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. So even though he is indeed not the shifty Pfizerman himself, I’m afraid his days as the “voice of radical Left yoof”, are now waaaay behind him.

            He is now just another hand-wringing guardian journalist – and one still bearing a deep personal grudge (along with the similarly back-stabbing Richard Murphy of Tax Justice Nework) at not being welcomed into Jeremy’s inner circle of confidents after his Leadership victory last year. Because for people like Jones and Murphy, at the end of the day … “it’s all about ME !”

          5. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to Paul Dias:

            Yes Owen Jones backed Corbyn last year because it was the fashionable position to take at that time. Clearly he feels it to be less fashionable now.

            Also last year, Jones called for withdrawal from the EU in solidarity with Greece – another passing fad that he moved on from, becoming an enthusiastic ‘Left-Remainer’ and then after the vote, he spoke at the recent ‘Posh Londoners’ Against Democracy’ protest rally alongside Geldof and others.

            And when the Red Tory Traitors launched their coup, Jones’s response was to call for a ‘unity’ candidate rather than rallying around Corbyn.

            Jones is a classic ‘soft-left’, a bit younger than the Tonybee types but no different in fundamentals.

          6. C MacMackin says:

            Somewhat pedantic point, but I while I think that “soft left” is a very accurate description of Owen Jones, it is inaccurate to say that Polly Toynbee is or ever was soft left. She was old–Labour Right and was involved in the SDP. After she rejoined Labour she remained part of its old right (along with the likes of Hattersly) which by then looked left wing compared to Blairism. Soft left referred to people like Kinnock who did tack right in hopes of party unity and electoral success. I think that is what we are seeing with Owen Jones (and Zoe Williams, for that matter) and it is different, in principle if not in practice, from the kind of politics which produced the SDP.

        2. Danny Nicol says:

          I very much applaud all this criticism of Owen Jones whose turncoating on EU membership was spectacular.

          If we are listing phonies, could we add Clive Lewis MP to the list? He plugs proportional representation for all its worth, which would be absolutely fatal to the cause of the Left. He has a level of zealotry for PR unprecedented for anyone who purports to be on the left wing of the Party. PR would of course mean endless coalitions and our Clive seeks a “progressive” coalition with the Liberal Democrats among other parties. A Lib Dem coalition for God’s sake!!! Haven’t we just had one of them??

          He holds fervently pro-EU views, and he abstained on Trident having previously suggested a joint nuclear deterrent with France!

          I’m glad if he presently supports Corbyn, but Clive Lewis on the Left of the Party? I don’t think so!!

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Sorry Danny, I can’t agree with you on Clive Lewis mate.

            I’m not keen on PR or on this ‘progressive alliance’ idea, but Lewis has stood firmly with Corbyn and has been absolutely rock-solid throughout this recent period.

            And he deserves maximum respect for that, in my opinion.

  11. C MacMackin says:

    Not much to add, but just thought I’d join the chorus saying that this smacks of complacency.

    1. Bazza says:

      Yes Tony and we should go on the attack against the Right Wing Labour Blairites.
      According to the Observer one Labour Shadow Minister after they resigned went straight to their ex-office and wiped the computers clean of Labour’s considered position on the Finance Bill.
      Not only should this Labour MP be named, for their sabotage against the Labour Party, they should be disciplined and this should also be reported to the MPs Constituency Labour Party!

      1. Bazza says:

        Oh and no complacency – this is the fight of our lives!
        We need primarily organisation but art, music, comedy and poetry could also help take us over the winning line!
        Solidarity!

      2. Tony says:

        Yes, I remember that.

        The Observer has also reported that an anonymous Labour MP in the north east was considering defecting to the Conservative Party!

  12. Martin Read says:

    As others have written, it is important that he does not become complacent- I don’t think this is likely, given the current state of the media- or appear to be complacent. If the media thinks this will harm his chances they will paint him as complacent, even if he is not.
    I think his best chances are to keep on doing what he is doing, refusing to be drawn into somebody else’s agenda. It’s still heart in mouth time, until he crosses the line.

  13. Verity says:

    We should not underestimate the ‘irreconcilables’ and an alternative strategy behind the challenge to the leadership. They often also hear the same messages of support for Corbyn, so it needs to be understood that winning may not be the sole objective for them. Jeremy’s vote was much closer than was comfortable amongst the ‘members – only’ category last time. There has been considerable undermining by the reinforcing combination of hostile MPs and the ‘liberal’ media, especially I would suggest the BBC and the Guardian.

    I would suggest that winning or doing very well in the ‘membership – only’ category may be the grounds for continuing to say that Corbyn does not have an overwhelming mandate. The lines of argument being similar to that of some EU ‘Remainders’, who say since there was a 48% vote to Remain we should adopt a ‘48% – only’ measures for leaving the EU. There are sound reasons for taking care with judgment about the outcome of this ‘membership-only’ category. Many of the new membership category may not have taken up the additional ‘taxation’ to be allowed to vote (after all we do not really know who they are). Some of the original voters in this group may have adopted a semi-loyalty to their own MPs – especially when those individuals get at them with their sob stories of ‘intimidation’ over the Summer (which I assume often amounts to little more than passionate debate). Some others may have become disturbed purely by the tensions that have been created and blame no-one except the state of the leadership for not having already resolved it. Others may think that it is always the responsibility of the leadership to bring about resolutions. So a 48% vote in this category may be used to legitimise a further two year period of disruption. In that sense they would have scored a victory of sorts. A further objective in running a loosing campaign is to recruit many more of the ‘irreconcilable’ supporters for a further challenge in two years with a more worthy candidate and having learnt lessons about the best ‘stitch up’ practices to adopt.

    We would be very naive indeed if we think victory is just about victory and fail to make it even greater than before.

    1. John Penney says:

      All very true, Verity – but I think Jeremy will actually defeat the transparently insincere, Pfizerman, with the decidedly dodgy voting record, by a huge margin , in all voting categories. Not that we should, as many have said, get complacent and ease up on the campaigning.

      Smith comes straight from Central Casting as a two-faced, “say anything to get elected – ignore all promises immediately afterwards” shiny suited opportunist career politician. That this classic model of the unprincipled career politician is all that the Labour Right and their Progress billionaire backers can come up with would be laughable if it wasn’t so damaging in its disruptive impact on the Labour Party and the general struggle against the Tories.

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