After 500 responses to the poll posted on This Site on Sunday, it seems the public is not quite as unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn and his policies as we’ve all been led to believe.
The article had been viewed 5,790 times by then, indicating that more than 10 times as many people did not oppose any of Mr Corbyn’s policies than did.
The most popular option in the poll, which asked people to indicate which Corbyn policies they opposed, was “Other” – with 400 votes. But This Site did not receive 400 comments on the feedback form saying why they had chosen it, which is frustrating. It certainly seems that some of these respondents were using it as a way to indicate support for Mr Corbyn, despite the article having made it plain that the poll was not intended for people who approve of him. We shall come to those comments shortly.
Of Mr Corbyn’s policies, the least popular was his desire for a foreign policy based on peace, rather than war, with 35 votes out of 500 – that’s just seven per cent of the total number of respondents.
This was the runaway leader, with almost twice as many votes as the next-least-popular policy, his plan to reduce wealth inequality with a maximum wage ratio and progressive taxation. This attracted 18 votes – 3.6 per cent of the total.
The plan to re-nationalise public utilities attracted 12 votes (2.4 per cent); the plan to strengthen workers’ rights, end zero-hours contracts and support trade unions attracted 9 votes (1.8 per cent); and the national investment bank attracted seven (1.4 per cent).
Six of you voted against protection from discrimination and prejudice (1.2 per cent); five against a National Education Service (one per cent), and four against everyone having a good home (0.8 per cent).
The other policies – ending the underfunding of the NHS and restoring the public healthcare system, and protecting the environment from pollution – attracted only two votes each (0.4 per cent), out of 500.
The above tends to indicate that Mr Corbyn’s policies are not unpopular at all.
Perhaps the problem must be something to do with the man himself, then? Let’s turn to the comments.
The poll generated almost 90 of these – but several had to be disregarded as they did not contain information other than a claim that he is not a good or effective MP. Without evidence to support them, those comments were useless. Fortunately, some were more meaty – but be warned: Many were also misguided.
Here are a few of them. I’ll follow them up with my own observations, to provide factual accuracy and perspective.
“Corbyn continues to support both the UK’s membership of the EU and Unrestricted Mass Immigration. Both of these policies are proven to increase the poverty of the very poorest in the UK while increasing the wealth of the already wealthy. Stop pretending that increasing the Supply of Labour doesn’t drive down wages or that increasing the Demand for Housing doesn’t push up its Price. It is insulting to even suggest that either of these points doesn’t make the poor very much poorer and that YOU and LABOUR support this increase in poverty for those who already have almost nothing!”
You have probably spotted the faults in this argument, which are that Corbyn and Labour do not currently support the UK’s membership of the European Union. The party has bowed to the will of the people and has dedicated itself to finding a way of turning Brexit to the advantage of the wider population, in co-operation with socialist political parties across Europe. There will be a conference of these parties in the very near future.
Nor do Mr Corbyn and Labour support “unrestricted mass immigration”. This is a misinterpretation of the EU’s ‘free movement’ policy. The UK has never had “unrestricted mass immigration” – it has always been controlled. Even within the EU, controls on immigration have been available – but the Conservative government has never ratified them or used them. Mr Corbyn and Labour were willing to support continued ‘free movement’ under EU conditions (which allow foreign citizens into the UK for three months, after which they must meet certain conditions or be ejected). This Site published an article on the subject directly before the poll, so it is odd that anyone would make this false argument.
The comment included a third claim, about increasing the demand for housing in order to push up its price. As we can all see from the list of Mr Corbyn’s policies, his Labour Party wants to increase the supply of housing, pushing down its price.
“Corbyn needs to strongly oppose the plans to leave the EU. The majority of labour supported voted remain. Staying in the EU will help protect the most vulnerable, help protect workers rights and help protect the environment. These are all in tune with labour party values.”
So Mr Corbyn both supports and opposes the UK’s membership of the EU? No. It seems some people have become confused. Mr Corbyn himself – and many in the Labour Party – did support remaining in the EU when the referendum was held (do not believe the nonsense claim that he voted the leave, put about by his opponents to cause mischief). But the vote went the other way and the Labour Party must respect that. Now, it is Mr Corbyn’s duty to argue for the best possible conditions – for ordinary people, not the so-called “one per cent” – after the UK decouples from the EU. Claims that Brexit can still be stopped are based on a fantasy. Theresa May has no choice other than to push it through because any other course will split the Conservative Party down the middle, and even she isn’t stupid enough to do that to her party. It is worth remember that, when you hear Liberal Democrats positioning themselves as “the Party of Remain”. It means nothing; they cannot change what will happen.
“Perhaps all policies should be offered to the public with no party attached. This way we get proper balance, and can hold the governing party to account on their policies, not personalities. Politicians are in place to implement the policy, it’s not a popularity contest.”
The suggestion is impossible; policies are offered up to make parties electable; we cannot choose the policies and expect a government to enact them because the likelihood is that we would choose a spread of policies from all party manifestos. None of them would implement such a plan. For one thing, it would throw all the parties’ costings completely out of balance. The comment that it should not be a popularity contest is well-made; however, UK elections have been increasingly presidential since the 1980s, with party leaders presented to the public in the most favourable way possible by their parties, and with the mainstream media choosing a party to support. It has been remarked that media support of a particular leader has been what has won elections in the UK, certainly since Rupert Murdoch became a major newspaper proprietor in this country. That probably explains why the country has reach the dire straits in which it is currently floundering.
“The Labour Party stance on siding with the Tory party on all matters to do with Scotland means the union is finished.”
Clearly, this is a mistake. Notice it is unevidenced. The commenter may be thinking back to the Scottish independence referendum, in which Ed Miliband’s Labour took huge criticism for campaigning alongside the Conservatives for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Nationalists seized on this to put out propaganda that Labour and the Tories were allies. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the claim was hugely damaging to Labour in the 2015 election and, clearly, some voters are still clinging to it.
“Jezza is just too nice which appears to be a major factor against him. He needs to “retrain” to more resemble the Beast of Bosolver or Tony Benn – a “Fire in the Belly” implant needed? I’ve seen claims that since 1979 subsequent PMs attained power through Murdoch’s approval which is why JC probably won’t make it. The root problem is that we have an electorate that can’t wipe their backsides without the TV or Murdoch’s rags telling them how to do it (in the case of Sun “readers”, in pictures).”
So more “fire in the belly” needed. Constructive criticism!
“I’d feel a lot more confident about him if he had clear plans for clearing out the traitors (and exposing them as such)- if he doesn’t do that his chances of winning are slim, and that would be a pity, since he speaks for many. Even the poll (thus far) would indicate there’s not much opposition to his ideas. We also need to know far more about the selection committees behind these creatures. What are their interests, that they’d put a Tory masquerading as labour for an MP? And how will this treason be outed so that constituents are ALL made aware of the treachery and deceit? The only other thing I’d add is an overhaul of the legal system- and, indeed, greater access to it, so we can, as the public, tackle such things as police corruption and thuggery, bent judges, corrupt civil servants and of course, local authorites.”
This is a reference to those members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who conspired against Mr Corbyn’s leadership last summer. Several of his more vocal opponents have since quit Parliament, and other face the threat of deselection as MP candidates by their local Labour Party organisations. This is the way the Labour Party works. Right-wing candidates may, in the past, have been ‘parachuted’ into constituencies (This Writer does not know what arguments were used to persuade local members to accept them; to be honest, any insight on this would be appreciated) but this is now seen as a vote-loser.
“I like mr Corbyns manner and the way he speaks , but do not feel he is strong enough to do all his programme , he appears unable to command a strong labour management party . Why !! I also don’t like the Euro.”
Mr Corbyn was strong enough to overturn a conspiracy against him by a majority of his MPs – and he used the power of democracy to do it! This Writer has to wonder where these claims of weakness have their origins. The evidence simply doesn’t bear them out.
“He will lose the next election unless he stresses that immigration will be controlled.”
Another comment about immigration. It is controlled, and may be controlled further, but Mr Corbyn and his team may benefit from witnessing the strength of feeling and depth of misunderstanding in the country.
“I cannot give my support to a Party that has the ‘Absolute Racist Dianne Abbott’ in any position. Be that in the Shadow Cabinet or worse still to have her in any Future Cabinet (if elected).”
This refers to a comment made by Ms Abbott: “White people love playing divide and rule.” She apologised for them but that is not enough for some voters and, while the issue is not specifically about Mr Corbyn, it may relate to his leadership choices.
“Corbyn has to lead our party [bolding mine, for clarity]. He constantly states his policy, then seems unsure about it when challenged in interviews. His cabinet is not speaking with a single party voice so one of them seeks to clarify or back off on the policy statement he has made and then he himself backtracks. This is not leadership its a shambles. Clarity and vision is needed not just one line principle statements but worked through, clear underpinned policies.”
This argument may be based on media misinformation more than any failing of the Corbyn leadership. For example, when Mr Corbyn floated his ‘maximum wage’ idea last week, BBC reporters demanded that he provide a set amount that he thought such a wage should be – and it was never about that. It was about setting a maximum as a multiple of the minimum wage in any particular company. When this was explained to them, reporters claimed he was backtracking. No. They deliberately misinterpreted him.
“His lack of putting forward any real opposition to Teresa May and her approach to Brexit has really disappointed me. This issue is too important to my generation and future generations to let slide and I think I will end up having to vote Liberal Democrat. A lot of people who voted Remain are very frustrated right now that nobody is speaking for them.”
How will voting Liberal Democrat in a general election that will take place after Brexit has happened help the UK remain in the European Union? It won’t. Mr Corbyn, and Labour, want to unify the UK after the rifts created by the Conservative Party, with its unwanted referendum that was called solely to placate Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers. The party accepts that Brexit is going to happen, but also that many people are extremely upset that they voted for it on the basis of bad information – so the aim now must be to get the best possible deal – or put the system in place to ensure a future Labour government can do so.
“His policy on Scotland and refusal to consider independence. This leads to a Scottish labour party who are dead in the water as Scots have lost trust in them to be anything other than servants of Westminster. This also indicates an unwillingness to listen from Corbyn. He has a lengthy history of activism and campaigning. Not of leadership and the need to bend at times to provide appropriate opposition.”
This opinion is based on Scottish nationalist propaganda, it seems. Scotland voted against independence. Not all Scots have lost trust in Labour – and what, exactly, is meant by “servants of Westminster”?
“Mr Corbyn has some good policies but is an ineffectual, uninspiring leader and cannot put across the policies to the public in a coherent way. He has also created Momentum which is splitting the party and making it fractious. I am a party member but will not go to the CLP nor help unless Momentum is closed and Mr Corbyn is replaced by someone with leadership qualities and is inspiring.”
The claim that Mr Corbyn is incoherent is evidenceless. He certainly managed coherence on Andrew Marr’s interview show on Sunday (January 15). Momentum was founded by Jon Lansman, not Jeremy Corbyn.
“Mr Corbyn could do so much for the country. We need a man of his depth, character and constitution in power. Now more than ever we face together the rise of populism, Russian aggression, Trump and AI. But we need to be playing a leading role in the EU to do this we need the strength of our friends and allies, those we have forged our history, both good and bad with. Not to mention there are 16 million voters out there, desperate to heard. Crowd funding legal cases against the Government for Christ sake! We need a leader. If Mr Corbyn worked with remain, the likes of March for Europe, the 48%, Professor A.C. Greyling, and the lib Dems we might stand a chance to wrestle back the country from the 1%. Perhaps I’m still no good at this game, perhaps Mr Corbyn has a strate that I can’t see, for all our sakes, I truely hope so.”
Again: Labour is working to reunify the UK and close the rifts created by the Conservatives’ divisive referendum. It would be worth remembering that the Liberal Democrats, by claiming to be the “party of Remain”, are working hard to keep those divisions.
“There are two issues on which I seriously disagree with the positions he advocates: 1) he has adopted an argument about Syria which says there are atrocities on both sides and we should seek a negotiated settlement. This underestimates the disproportionate destructiveness and murderousness of the Assad regime and its supporters. 2) while I have some sympathy for his interpretation of Brexit as a cry against negligent and arrogant politics, he does not appear to have any vision for Britain as a part of Europe. Personally I might wish that he continued to oppose Brexit; I can see why politically that is unlikely to be possible in the near future. But I would like a Labour leader who was better able to articulate their vision of both the enormous strengths and the significant problems with the continent in which we happen to live–and who can unequivocally stand up for the rights of EU residents in the U.K.”
The attitude on Syria seems, to This Writer, no different from the attitude adopted by all parties in the Northern Ireland peace process, which has delivered lasting stability for more than a decade. In those negotiations, all sides had grievances; they were put aside, in order to discuss the issues that were the cause of the violence. In Northern Ireland, it worked. Why not in Syria?
The LabourParty’s policy on the UK’s future relationship with Europe may become clearer after Mr Corbyn has his conference with European socialist parties in a few weeks’ time.
“We need a strong opposition that can stand up to the Tory maddness of Brexit. Corbin keeps changing his mind, can’t seem to speak for all his party nor those who voted for Labour. Someone has to stop this and if Corbyn cannot it will be a disaster for the UK as a whole. Those who felt disenfranchised by governments in general and voted for Leave, should have been better supported by Labour and Corbyn should have explained to them how voting Leave will affect them badly the most, how those areas who had the highest Brexit vote actually had some of the lowest number of immigration and the highest amount of EU funding …these were Labour heartlands and yet UKIPs lies succeeded to persuade them to vote Leave! Where was Labour and Corbyn when the country really needed him. He’s no statesman…what ever you may think of Blair, he had prescience and conviction. Corbyn has none of these attributes.”
On what has he changed his mind? No party leader speaks for everybody within their organisation – look at David Cameron, who had to hold an unwanted referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, to placate Tory Eurosceptic backbenchers who would have split his party otherwise. The best leaders represent the views the majority can support. Mr Corbyn worked very hard to explain why remaining in the EU was the best choice, but that did not deter a majority from voting Leave – maybe based on false information, but that was their choice. Obviously he could not talk about the areas with the highest Brexit vote, before that vote had been cast; this commenter seems to be confused about that. It should be remembered that Mr Corbyn persuaded a majority of Labour members and voters to support remaining in the EU; if David Cameron had managed to persuade as many Tories, we would not be preparing to leave the EU now. When the country really needed him, Corbyn was out campaigning for it. David Cameron was nowhere to be seen.
“he has lied about his intentions re europe he now supports brexit these are red lines for me would have, but now will not vote unless he changes to support remain.”
What good will that do? Brexit will happen, no matter what. Corbyn did not lie; he campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU but, as the vote went against him, as a responsible political leader he must accept the will of the people and do what he can to make it work. That’s not lying.
“Mr Corbyn as the Leader of the Opposition should be fiercely challenging the blatant lies and mal-practices of the present government who are taking this country down a disastrous path which will lead to our country in ruins. I can only presume that he, like so many of our politicians, simply do not understand how the EU works and the inevitable results of a hard Brexit, and this is why is does not respond. Can he not understand that there is a huge move from both labour and the Tories towards the LibDems going on? Does he not understand the fury of the remainers? Does he not understand the fragility of his position?”
Mr Corbyn certainly understands the dangers of the hard Brexit that Theresa May is triggering – that is why he is working with socialist colleagues across Europe to find a way of minimising its impact, either immediately or as soon as a Labour government can be returned to office. Anybody transferring their vote from Labour to the Liberal Democrats is doing so on the basis of a lie, which is no different from the reasons people voted to leave the EU in the first place.
“My primary grievance with our present leadership is over Brexit: I was disappointed with the halfhearted support for Remain from the leadership, furious with the “open letter” issued by JC the day after the referendum which essentially boiled down to “Oh dear, how sad, never mind, moving on”, and I am in despair at the leadership’s failure to defend the many social benefits accrued through membership of the EU and also the rights of those non-UK EU citizens who have lived here for many years, established homes and families here but now find themselves in limbo, callously regarded by our Tory government as nothing more than bargaining chips in the forthcoming negotiations. I recognise that JC was never enthusiastic about the EU: he regarded it as an unwieldy structure created to underpin capitalism in Western Europe. This is fair comment: it is precisely that, but in doing so it has also weakened the artificial barriers which divide the peoples of nation states, has ensured that workers in one part of the Union have the same relatively robust protection from exploitation as those in another part. The EU, imperfect as it is, has evolved into a socially conscious body dedicated to bringing about internationalism: it has a long way to go, but it is not going to get there if we choose to allow a secession based on naked xenophobia to succeed. The present leadership’s failure to champion internationalism is deeply dispiriting: I regard it as nothing less than a betrayal of the movement. Brexit was and is my primary issue: I have other points of difference with the leadership but (1) you allow only one option to be selected, and (2) you reduced complex policies to meaningless inoffensive platitudes devoid of detail.”
Another commenter who misunderstands Labour’s stance on the EU and Brexit.
“He appears to have accepted Brexit. All his other policies are meaningless if Brexit isn’t stopped!”
And another. It seems clear that, if nothing else come from this poll, a clarification on Labour’s position with regard to Brexit is vital.
“Labour’s support for Brexit coupled with Corbyn’s absence during the Referendum campaign, and his failure to galvanise Labour heartlands to vote Remain, lost us the benefits of being in the EU, and lost me my EU status. So having always voted Labour, next time I will vote Lib Dem.”
And another. Mr Corbyn was not absent during the Referendum campaign and he galvanised a majority of Labour members and supporters to vote Remain; how quickly people forget. If we’re going to blame anyone for the vote being in favour of Brexit, we should be blaming David Cameron, who failed to build Tory support for staying in the EU, Nick Clegg, who supported Cameron’s plan to have an EU membership referendum while the Liberal Democrats were in coalition with the Conservatives, and Tim Farron, who failed to achieve more than a roughly 55/45 split among his party’s voters and supporters. The Liberal Democrats carried out research on the vote in all the constituencies they had after the 2010 election and found 31 voted remain (including five of the eight they were left with after the 2015 election) and 26 voted leave (including three of their current seats). For the Lib Dems to claim status as the ‘party of Remain’ is ridiculous.
“JC does not deliver his policies with passion, he has no charisma, he sounds as if he doesn’t have the faintest idea about peoples’ fears and concerns. He may well have all those attributes but as I, a life- time Labour voter, do not get that impression how is he ever going to persuade a Tory or UKIP voter to change? Incidently I would like to add that I may not vote Labour next time round as I totally disagree with my own MP Jonothan Reynolds about building a massive housing estate on our green belt land. If Labour is to have any hope of being in government within the next 20 years it needs a new leader, no doubt about it!”
Oh, so politics is about personalities, not policies, then?
“Jeremy Corbyn has a record of support for extreme left wing organizations and groups, which in some instances is contrary to what the majority of UK citizens either want or deserve. He is divisive, incompetent and unfit to be the leader of a mainstream political party. He is unable to bring his politics into the 20th Century, and is stuck in the class war struggles that were not even relevant 100 years ago.”
I think we’d all – including Mr Corbyn – like to know what these “extreme left wing organisations and groups” are! Another example of unevidenced opinion based on… what?
“He has no experience of leading and this makes him a very poor leader with no leadership skills. This results in a split party and very inconsistent messages. He’s like an old dog trying and failing to learn new tricks. His arrogance comes across in media interviews when he is also very poorly prepared. The language he uses does not chime with the people.He focuses far too much on talking to his own people e.g. online Overall, many of his policies are excellent but his message is very poorly delivered. There is no clear believable ‘story’ as to how he’d pay for these policies. He is out of touch over immigration and trident. He has no idea what it means to lead his party.”
Tony Blair had no experience of leading. Neither did David Cameron. Lack of experience doesn’t make one a poor leader, or unelectable. Mr Corbyn’s skills are remarkable – he defeated a concerted attempt to remove him as Labour leader. People often forget that he didn’t win by accident. Splits in the Labour Party were due to right-wing members trying to destabilise matters and discourage people from supporting Mr Corbyn, even if it meant other parties gaining footholds in Labour areas. It seems strange that Mr Corbyn has to take the flak for their misbehaviour. I see no evidence of him “talking to his own people” – his speeches and statements are made for everyone, in language that everyone can understand. All Labour policies have been costed. He has a stronger grip on the immigration issue than any other UK political leader. He has accepted that his desire to rid the UK of Trident is an idea whose time has not yet come.
“80% of the media are Tories their propaganda has worked very well on the general public who seem to be apathetic on the whole unless something happen to them . The Labour Party needs to be more present in the media and brings home the message that this country is going down and what the Labour Party is going to be doing about it. Every fake news against Corbyn needs to be tackled head on. The message from Labour MPs needs to be clear loud proactive and united unless this happen the general public will be left in the dark confused undecided. Also polls are skewed in favour of the Tories.”
I could go on, but I’m sure you have the gist by now.
So, by far the most contentious issue is Brexit, based on a false assumption that – by accepting the will of the majority who voted – Mr Corbyn is somehow betraying ‘Remain’ voters and siding with the Conservatives. He isn’t siding with the Conservatives; he is accepting the will of the majority. And, if any of those who expressed anger at him is willing to listen, he is working to ensure that Labour finds practical solutions to the problems that will be created by leaving the European Union. Neither the Tories, Liberal Democrats or UKIP can say the same, and the SNP solution appears to be to threaten another independence referendum (maybe).
But that is just the opinion of This Writer, based on the evidence I have seen. It seems clear that the Labour leadership should act to clarify its position on Brexit – and will need to keep hammering the point home until the naysayers understand and accept it.
I will, of course, pass the results of this poll on to Mr Corbyn. Hopefully it will provide insight and illumination on the way his detractors see him.
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