UK

Ian Lavery Tries to Defend Jeremy Corbyn In Car-Crash Daily Politics Interview

That went well.

24/02/2017 13:58 GMT | Updated 24/02/2017 15:32 GMT

Labour’s campaign chief has given an astounding interview on the Daily Politics show in which he claimed Jeremy Corbyn is “one of the most popular politicians in the country”.

In a combative exchange with host Andrew Neil, Ian Lavery refused to say shock defeat on the Copeland by-election was a reflection on his party’s leader.

He also claimed the Tories won the seat because people feel a “general distrust of politicians” but not Corbyn.

Copeland has been held by Labour since it was formed in 1983 but Conservative Trudy Harrison snatched it by 2,147 votes in a historic victory. 

Bursting Lavery’s bubble is a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

Corbyn continues to perform badly in the polls with a recent YouGov survey saying only 15% of the public believe he would make a good PM compared to 49% who backed Theresa May.

Even worse for Corbyn, his approval rating recently slid into net-negative for every demographic including the working class and those aged 18-24. 

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Labour as a whole are also performing badly and MPs this week challenged him over an ICM/Guardian poll giving the Conservatives an 18-point lead.

The survey found that the Tories were on 44%, up two points, while Labour were on 26%, down one. UKIP were on 13% and the Liberal Democrats on 8%.

When challenged by former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie to explain the huge poll lead, Corbyn replied: “Of course I understand what’s going on and the problems we have had in the media.”

The argument that a large membership base is a sign of success for the party has also been called into doubt.

Last year an internal analysis of the party’s rising membership found a disproportionate number were “high-status city dwellers” pursuing well-paid jobs, not the working class voters traditionally represented by Labour.

In fact Labour is now the third most popular party amongst working class voters, behind Ukip and the Tories for what could be the first time in its history.

Writing for The Huffington Post UK this week, Labour MP Lisa Nandy, wrote:

“This poses a profound challenge for Labour whose membership is increasingly unrepresentative of the country as a whole. This has got worse in recent months, with new members more likely to come from cities, often home owners in well-paid jobs. With five times more members in Islington than a town like Wigan, there is a risk that Labour’s perspective will be skewed away from the needs and aspirations of people in towns across the country.”

Corbyn has dismissed any suggestion that he is to blame for Labour’s historic by-election loss in Copeland.

The Labour leader was asked this morning by Chris Ship from ITV News whether he had “looked the mirror and asked yourself this question, ‘could the problem actually be me?’.”

Corbyn replied simply: “No. Thank you for your question.”