Jeremy Corbyn A 'Scruffy Worzel Gummidge,' Say Voters Of Nuneaton

'I imagine him in the White House – he’s like someone who got lost from the tour'

09/05/2016 07:00 | Updated 09 May 2016
Claire Hayhurst/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn is seen as "scruffy" and "bla bla bla" by people in Nuneaton, according to a focus group conducted in the key battleground English constituency.

The Labour leader was also viewed by the 16 people quizzed the week before the May 5 local elections as unable to control his party.

"You want a charismatic leader and to me he’s more like Worzel Gummidge," said one woman.

"They’ve more or less fallen out with themselves at the minute. It’s just a shambles, so how can you vote for someone to run the country when they can’t even sit in the room together. No," said one man.

The survey was conduced by former Ed Miliband pollsters James Morris and Ian Warren for Election Data in association with Greenberg Quinlan Rosler.

The men and women from Nuneaton had all voted for Labour in 2005 or 2010 but Conservative in 2015

David Cameron should not get too excited however, as the Conservative Party was also described as being "full of crap".

Nuneaton is a bellweather seat. The key West Midlands constituency came to symbolise Miliband's 2015 election defeat. Not only was he unable to capture the seat from David Cameron, the Tories increased their majority of the vote.

This problem was repeated last week in the local elections, when there was a 11% swing away from Corbyn's Labour towards the Tories.

Election Data Ltd
How Nuneaton sees Jeremy Corbyn

If Labour wants to win the next general election in 2020. It needs to win Nuneaton.

None of the men the pollsters spoke to said they would vote Labour if an election were held tomorrow. Although the women were a little more positive about Labour.

"I imagine him in the White House – he’s like someone who got lost from the tour," man.

"The only times you ever hear him – he picks up on stupid things and would say ‘oh David Cameron was slagging off my tie today," man.

"Scruffy, very scruffy and flaky looking. Flaky – he does. He just – he never seems like he’s presentable," woman.

"If he has a viewpoint he tends to stick to it and will say something even if it sounds stupid," man.

The men and women spoken to by the pollsters viewed Labour as divided. Seven of the eight men thought Corbyn was to blame for the division. 

However the women did not blame Corbyn and thought Labour MPs should give him their support. Although they believed most MPs had voted for Corbyn as leader.

"You always hear them arguing – you always hear something on the news, oh his followers are not following him any more and not bowing down because he said this about his mate’s shoes or something. But that’s how it comes across. They’re always falling out with each other," woman.

"Every time he gets up to speak in the House of Commons you watch all these people that are supposed to be backing him behind him and they’re just staring into space. And you think to yourself that’s our leader, you should be backing him. But they just – I don’t think they’ve got any confidence in him," man.

The focus groups were held on Monday 25th April – before the antisemitism row involving Ken Livingstone broke out.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Just because the voters had a poor impression of Corbyn, it did not mean they were huge fans of the Conservative Party.

George Osborne, who on Sunday said any Tory leadership contest would not happen until the "end of the decade", was described as "slimy".

One woman said of the chancellor: "He looks a bit like Mr. Benn – a bit round and weasely."

Another woman added: "I voted Conservative last time and I just think – I dunno – I don’t think they’ve delivered on anything. I just think they’re absolutely full of crap."

Corbyn may be seen as "scruffy" But other Labour figures and future leadership contenders were not well known by the voters of Nuneaton.

Asked if anyone knew Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary who has been touted as possible leadership contender, one of the group asked: "Is she a relative of Tony?"

Two of the focus group had heard of John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, thanks to the Little Red Book he threw at Osborne.

Dan Jarvis had some name recognition thanks to his time in the army. And Chuka Umunna was familiar thanks to the former shadow cabinet minister's visits to Coventry. 

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