Are British voters really primed for Corbyn? By Robert Pries on Left Foot Forward CLFlaimed
"We should be wary of any claim that the British public is instinctively left-wing "
According to a widely-shared article, the British electorate privately supports solidly left-wing policies such as railway renationalisation and the abolition of tuition fees, even though right-wing governments get elected.
Should we, then, assume that voters would seize the opportunity to have their instincts represented at elections by a Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn?
He goes on to say
Most pressing for the Left is the big picture: the proportion of people in favour of higher taxation and spending has collapsed from 63 per cent to just 37 per cent in the ten years from 2004 to 2014. Support for welfare spending has plummeted. Those who remember Blair-era clichés about a ‘social-democratic majority’ should consider whether they still stand up to scrutiny.
Stating the obvious, the reason we have polling data on most of these positions – fees, tax, Syria – is that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party explicitly represented them. When it came to a large poll of the electorate – a General Election with the highest turnout since 1997 – 49.5 per cent of voters plumped for the Tories or UKIP while 46.5 per cent went for a broad ‘left’ of Labour/SNP/Lib Dem/Green (39.0 per cent if you exclude the ambiguous Lib Dems).
This does not mean we should jettison all Ed’s policies, but it makes clear that being on the right side of public opinion on a basket of issues yields limited rewards.
The most important point is this: sharing some of voters’ positions does not mean you share their overall priorities. Labour’s position on Trident or railway ownership should always be debated but will not swing elections. While it is impossible to disaggregate all the reasons behind Labour’s electoral defeat, TUC-commissioned polling suggested many voters who considered voting Labour ultimately chose not to because of their perceived lack of economic competence.
This is the stubborn frame for policy discussions. It means that even when a policy like the 50 per cent tax rate polls well, many will not trust Labour with the decision. Meanwhile Osborne gets away with unpopular measures like abolishing student grants because – like it or not – people usually think his budgets are fair overall.
Even those who do not agree with the reasonable strategic case for making concessions on austerity should be wary of any claim that the British public is instinctively left-wing and sceptical about cherry-picking policy positions from opinion polls. Remember that UKIP can easily do exactly the same thing on immigration, overseas aid or inheritance tax. Most people are surely to the left of the Conservative frontbench on many issues, but Cameron can rule from the right as long as Labour keeps losing
In contrast Wings over Scotland provides data which seems to to point to people being more in line with the Anti Austerity message than we are led to believe
But whichever you find the most convincing why should such polls it influence the policy of Labour or any Political Parties to change thier long held beliefs?
Political Parties should compose of people with similar views and attempt to influence others to share them eventually getting enough support to form a government and implement them.
They should look at such polls not to try and see what the public support but to see the extent they have to go in order to convince those who do not share their vision to change.
Similarly they should not bee influenced by Media Moguls Indeed they point out the undemocratic nature of a political system where the day after a General Election we get
If Corbyn wins or even does well in the Labour Leadership contest they will face an increasing hostile media but that is not a reason not to elect him.
Nor indeed is it that the Majority those outside his Party do not share his vision or even if they do.
When Andy Burnham argued that the Party Comes First and was shot down by Liz Kendall Er, the country always comes first”… it was the former who was right in the sense that the Party (whichever) should tell the nation what they believe not what they think the Nation believes.
They should always listen but not always obey,