Corbyn must now catch up with Theresa May and the general public

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
September 23, 2016, 7:50 PM UTC

Large numbers of people still don't know what Jeremy Corbyn stands for, and those that do don't feel he shares their concerns

With Jeremy Corbyn convincingly re-elected leader of the Labour party, the political narrative will now shift away from Labour infighting and back towards the battle between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for the approval of the public.

New YouGov research shows just how much work Jeremy Corbyn still has to put in with the public. The results highlight not just that Corbyn is seen as out of touch with public concerns, but also the extent to which he has failed to articulate what he stands for. Despite the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has been leader for a year now, and has had the media attention that two leadership debates affords him, more than a third (37%) of the public still say they don’t know what issues are most important to him.

Among those who say they know what is important to Corbyn’s Labour, the top five include reducing poverty (24%), welfare benefits (21%), health (17%), nuclear weapons (15%) and housing (14%). Brexit – the most important issue to the general public at 55% – came in joint sixth on this list at just 13%.

By contrast, Theresa May is seen as being much closer to the general public. She is seen as sharing the top two priorities of the general public – Brexit and immigration – and she is seen to be similarly concerned about the economy. She is, however, seen as being far less concerned about health (11%) and housing (5%) – despite the fact that these are not just top five concerns for all voters but also Conservative voters.

Personality matters

Of course, when the time comes the public will decide who to vote for based on personality as much as policy. Corbyn suffers here too though – on each of the five measures we asked people to judge himself and Theresa May, he came second each time, often resoundingly.

The positive attribute most associated with Corbyn was likeability, but even in this measure Theresa May beats him 36% to 34%. On leadership issues like strength and decisiveness, May leads Corbyn by margins of more than 30 points.

A note of caution must be sounded – the Prime Minister is still new in the eyes of the voters, and opinions will still be in the process of being made. Nonetheless, Corbyn still has a lot of ground to make up with the voters.

Photo: PA

See the full results here