Sunday 25 September 2016

Latest poll suggests that neither Labour leader candidate has caught public's attention

Daniel Dunford

Published 16/07/2016 | 02:30

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: PA Wire
Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: PA Wire

Party leadership elections are all the rage at the moment, and after weeks of speculation, Angela Eagle has finally mounted a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn.

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For a few days at least, all three parties who secured the most votes in the general election last year - representing four in five Brits altogether - were undergoing concurrent leadership races.

Angela Eagle. Photo: Reuters/Paul Hackett
Angela Eagle. Photo: Reuters/Paul Hackett

Mr Corbyn has endured a difficult few weeks post-referendum. More than 40 shadow ministers have resigned and he lost a no-confidence motion by an incredible 172 votes to 40.

Labour rules state that politicians need the nominations of at least 50 fellow Labour MPs or MEPs in order to get on the ballot for the contest.

It appeared unlikely that Mr Corbyn would have achieved this, but the Labour National Executive Committee voted to include him regardless, by virtue of him being the incumbent.

The motion was passed by just four votes, including his own.

He had threatened to sue his own party if he was not on the ballot. Ms Eagle secured the necessary nominations within hours of her leadership speech.

However, in what appeared to be part of a compromise for allowing Mr Corbyn to feature on the ballot, there was also a change to the rules that had previously allowed anyone to vote in the contest by paying a £3 fee.

That was thought to have been a big factor in securing the veteran left-winger's victory last year. As more than 100,000 new members joined in the weeks following the referendum, moderates feared that their support could have been dwarfed by this phenomenon again.

While Mr Corbyn's position seems untenable among the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), he maintains that the overwhelming mandate secured in last year's leadership election means it would be a betrayal of party members to step away from his responsibility.

It is the opposite attitude to former Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom, who pulled out of the race, saying: "Theresa May carries over 60pc support from the party, she is the person to unify the party.

Support

 "I am honoured to have secured the support of 84 of my colleagues, but after careful consideration, I do not believe this is sufficient support to lead a party into a general election."

A new poll by Ipsos Mori suggests that neither Ms Eagle nor Mr Corbyn have managed to catch the public's attention. Fewer than one-in-four voters thought that either candidate had what it takes to be a good prime minister.

Ms Eagle's supporters will hope that her high number of "don't knows" will beef up her support as she begins to build a bigger profile before the vote.

Of current Labour supporters, about the same number think Mr Corbyn is capable of being PM as think he isn't.

While just one in eight over 55s rate the Islington North MP, two fifths of under 35s like his "new politics".

Irish Independent

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