Needless to say, the Corbyn-haters were on This Writer’s back as soon as the Independent published the results of the ComRes poll that claimed Jeremy Corbyn was extremely unpopular with UK voters.
The first thought that occurs is how interesting it is that an anti-Corbyn poll result should become available so soon after one that was very much pro-Corbyn. Now why would that happen..?
The second refers to the claim that he would not adequately defend the UK against terrorism, which seems to come from a Newsnight interview with Laura Kuenssberg mentioned in the Independent article.
On that subject, I’ll pass you on to Oliver Tickell, who wrote the following in the Ecologist article I quote in a piece elsewhere on this blog:
“And then there was his interview with the BBC’s perspicacious political editor Laura Kuenssberg, broadcast on Monday, in which he said – among many other things – that he would prioritise the prevention of terrorism over ‘shooting to kill’ terrorists on the streets.
“”I’m not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general”, he told her. “I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often can be counterproductive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can, there are various degrees for doing things as we know. But the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing.”
“These are the words that launched a thousand attacks. Note – there was no outright refusal to allow security forces to shoot and kill terrorists in all circumstances. That’s what he meant, surely, by the words “there are various degrees for doing things as we know.”
“But first, this was just the concluding few seconds of a long (nine minute) interview in which he spoke in careful and measured terms: asking where ISIS was getting its money and weapons were coming from; demanding enhanced security in Britain and across Europe to prevent any further attacks like those in Paris; pointing out that there was no such thing as Al Qaida in Iraq before the war began in 2003; seeking the involvement of the United Nations in Syria; highlighting the role of communities in tackling extremism; calling on Cameron to rescind police cuts that would damage their ability to combat terrorism; condemning ISIS in firm and absolute terms; and seeking political rather than merely military solutions to international problems.
“In short, there was absolutely nothing that any informed and rational person could disagree with.
“And here’s the mystery. Kuenssberg is always good at nailing down the key, defining question. And the obvious follow-up to Corbyn’s reluctance to endorse “war on our streets” was, surely: “But just to be completely clear for our listeners Mr Corbyn, would you or would you not agree to the use of lethal force against terrorists if that was necessary to save civilian lives?”
“But this is the question that was not put. Did Kuenssberg know that she had what she wanted ‘in the can’ and that any further question would only detract from its impact? Was a BBC producer yelling “Cut!” into her ear?
“Because what Corbyn would have said in answer to that question is surely something like this: “The overwhelming priority must be to stop war breaking out on our streets in the first place. But obviously yes, if a terrorist attack is taking place and civilian lives are at risk, security forces must respond appropriately and at times that will mean shooting and killing terrorists – not as a kneejerk response but as a last resort. Because what we should be trying to do is to disarm and arrest them and hold them accountable for their crimes.””
It is possible to say we don’t know Corbyn would say that. It would certainly have been welcome for him to have been given the opportunity. Instead, anti-Corbyn activists have leapt to the attack and succeeded in damaging him in the eyes of the public – an opinion that has nothing to do with the facts or with discussion of the issues, and everything to do with making an emotive response.
The third thought that occurs is that ComRes habitually puts Labour a long way behind the Tories. This allegedly catastrophic 15-point trail indicates a loss of only two points for Labour – points that go to UKIP and not the Conservative Party. This may very well be a rogue poll in more ways than one, with the Tory lead over-exaggerated and public responses skewed by the false impression from the Newsnight interview.
Twice as many voters have an unfavourable view of Jeremy Corbyn as have a favourable one, according to a ComRes opinion poll for The Independent on Sunday – an 8-point increase in his unfavourable rating since September, when he was elected Labour leader.
After Mr Corbyn appeared reluctant to say he would order British police to shoot to kill if faced with a terrorist attack similar to that in Paris, the public are twice as likely to say they trust David Cameron to keep them and their family safe (39 per cent) as they are to say they trust Mr Corbyn (17 per cent).
The change in Labour support “if there were a general election tomorrow” may not be significant in itself, down 2 points, but the Conservative lead of 15 points is the highest recorded by any pollster since January 2010.
Conservative 42% (0)
Labour 27% (-2)
UKIP 15% (+2)
Lib Dem 7% (0)
Green 3% (0)
(Change since last month in brackets.)
Labour MPs are said to be thinking of unseating Mr Corbyn after just 10 weeks as leader, but only 20 per cent of Labour voters agree that MPs “should remove” him, while 56 per cent disagree, and 24 per cent don’t know.
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