The latest BMG poll for the Evening Standard suggests that Labour supporters are approaching the party’s leadership contest with a very different stance to the rest of the population. Amongst the general public, there appears to be a substantial majority that would back Owen Smith over Jeremy Corbyn, both as leader of the Labour Party and as Prime Minister but this result is reversed when only Labour supporters are taken into account.

Jeremy Corbyn still appears to maintain the on-the-ground support from party supporters that allowed him to become Labour leader just 10 months ago, giving weight to his argument that he has the popular mandate to lead, if not the parliamentary mandate. 6 in 10 (60%) of respondents that indicated that they voted Labour in 2015 believed that Corbyn would be the best leader of the Party and the best Prime Minister.

Amongst respondents that intend to vote Labour in the next General Election, support for Corbyn grew even larger: 75% believe that he would make both the best Prime Minister and the best Labour Party leader, with just a quarter (25%) naming Smith.

Looking to the other political parties, support for the two politicians as party leader is split according to party size: intended voters for the Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP lend their support to Smith, whereas Plaid Cymru, SNP and the Greens are more favourable towards Corbyn. When asked about fulfilling the Prime Minister’s role, the results are largely similar, although Plaid Cymru voters switch sides with 7 in 10 (71%) backing Smith.

The poll revealed that amongst the general population, Mr Smith is more electable, with nearly a third (32%) of adults indicating that they would be either less likely or far less likely to vote Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is leader in 2020, compared to 21% for former shadow work and pensions secretary Mr Smith.

But 52% of Labour supporters said they were more likely or far more likely to vote for the party with Mr Corbyn at the helm, a significant lead over his challenger at just 28%.

Michael Turner, Research Director at BMG Research, said: “People who currently would not vote for the party but say they may consider it are far more in favour of a party led by Mr Smith. He is also more attractive to current Liberal Democrat and UKIP supporters.

“But Mr Corbyn is still hugely more popular among current Labour backers.”

He also described Labour as in a “bizarre state of cognitive dissonance” given that although most Labour supporters feel Corbyn is the best leader for the party; they also recognise that under his leadership they are failing to challenge the government.

When asked what is motivating Mr Corbyn to carry on as leader following the vote of no confidence against him, Labour backers again respond very differently to other voters. Whereas amongst Conservatives, Lib Dem and UKIP voters (in 2015) responses were negative, saying that he is putting his own interests first, nearly 4 in 10 (38%) past Labour voters felt that Corbyn is prioritising the interests of the entire Labour Party. This figure increases to 44% when the same question was asked of those who indicated their intention to vote Labour. The number of respondents that thought Corbyn is putting his own interests first changes by 10% when comparing past and future Labour voters, with 26% of 2015 Labour voters agreeing with this statement and only 1 in 8 (16%) of intended voters thinking similarly.

The upcoming leadership election and its outcome will be very significant to the future of the Labour Party, given the level of discontent and division within the party. When asked if the Labour party is providing a proper Opposition to the Government, we find a disparity between past and future Labour voters: 44% of those intending to vote Labour believe that the party is failing to hold the government to account, while 54% of those that voted Labour in 2015 agree with this assessment. This suggests that this failure to do one of the party’s key functions as Opposition is perhaps one of the reasons why voters are moving away from the Labour party amidst this leadership challenge.

An article based on these polling results, released by The Evening Standard, can be found here.

Fieldwork dates and methodology can be found Here.

A full breakdown of these results can be found Here.

Jemma Conner

 

Jemma Conner – Junior Research Executive – BMG Research

 

George Bascom

 

George Bascom – Junior Research Executive – BMG Research

 

Dr Michael Turner

 

Dr Michael Turner – Research Director – BMG Research

 

 

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please visit our website or get in touch by email or phone.

polling@bmgresearch.co.uk

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