Unlikely, but voters do like many of his left-wing policiesby Peter Kellner / October 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
Despite the avalanche of criticism from much of the media, and the bleak despair of many Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn exudes a calm, determined optimism. He and his supporters think their critics underestimate his appeal. They talk of a public yearning for his “new politics.” They believe his whole approach, combining new policies with a quieter, less brutal tone, will win the converts that the party needs to win in 2020. Could they be right?
Results from this month’s YouGov/Prospect survey (see opposite) suggest that Corbyn is onto something. His style, and some of his policies, are going down well with many voters. He cannot be dismissed outright. That said, his path to power remains steep and rocky. Victory looks unlikely. But, then, winning his party’s leadership looked equally improbable when he launched his campaign, so maybe we should not be too dogmatic about his chances.
Public reactions to Corbyn’s agenda illustrate both his potential to advance and the hurdles in his path. We listed 15 policies associated with his campaign for the party leadership. Not all are likely to survive; he has already modified his stance on some issues and put others out to consultation. Yet our list shows clearly where voters are on his side and where they are not.
With six of the 15 policies we tested, supporters greatly outnumber opponents. What is striking is that, in conventional ideological terms, they are his six most left-wing policies: nationalisation of rail and energy companies, higher corporation tax, greater regulation of low pay and private rents, and local authority control of free schools and academies. Corbyn is tapping into a broad public sentiment that is hostile not only to “old politics” but also to the way people with power outside government have (as most voters see it) used that power to benefit themselves rather than the wider public interest.