Labour Party members overwhelmingly believe Corbyn has the right priorities, but are less confident that he’s handling the job well
The days when Jeremy Corbyn could seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of the Labour membership feel like a long time ago. With dissatisfaction rising about the party’s direction on Brexit, and its handling of antisemitism within the ranks, the shine seems to have come off the Labour leader.
That isn’t to say Corbyn's no longer popular, but his approval figures are quite some way off their high water mark.
A new YouGov poll of party members finds that the number who think Corbyn has been doing a good job fell from 80% in March 2018 to 56% now. Over the same period the number who think he's doing badly has more than doubled, from 19% to 43%.
With 82% of party members saying that they think Corbyn has the right priorities, it seems that the decline is based more on how well he has been handling the job day-to-day than anything fundamental.
Results are mixed when it comes to the two biggest challenges facing the Labour Party. A majority of members (56%) believe Corbyn has handled Brexit badly, and they are split 47% to 48% on whether he has responded well or badly to claims of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Just last year 61% said he was handling the antisemitism crisis well.
While Corbyn’s ratings have markedly declined, a majority of party members still rate their electoral chances, although this too is down on last year. Most (56%) want to see Corbyn lead the party into the next election, although this is down from 74% last year. And should Boris Johnson become Conservative leader, as seems likely, then 56% think Corbyn would beat him in any subsequent general election.
Nevertheless, should Corbyn lose such a contest or get hit by the proverbial bus, potential successors Keir Starmer and John McDonnell are most highly rated by the membership. Two thirds (68%) believe the shadow Brexit Secretary would make a good leader, as do 64% the shadow Chancellor.
It is worth noting, however, that while McDonnell’s support is consistent across the Brexit divide, Starmer’s is not. Where McDonnell is seen as being likely to make a good leader by 65% of party members who voted Remain and 60% who voted Leave, for Starmer almost three quarters (74%) of Remain-voting members hold him in such high esteem compared to only 44% of Leave-voting members.
Not far behind the two men in third place is shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, whom 59% of members think would make a good leader.