Jeremy Corbyn is failing to win back voters who deserted Labour for Ukip and is overseeing an exodus of hard-working volunteers from the party, a top election analyst has warned.
Ian Warren said Labour’s refusal to answer “hard questions” on immigration, defence and benefits was alienating those people it needed to win back to return to power.
The former advisor to Ed Miliband, who was drafted in in 2012 after Labour officials realised the impending threat of Ukip to their support, also revealed there was similar concern among high-ranking members of the party.
Warren now runs his own research firm, Election Data, and has learnt first-hand of the problems Labour voters who now back Ukip see with their old party.
Their opinions and videos of the focus group sessions are included in this article.
‘What do you associate with the Labour Party?’
- No leadership
- Out of touch with the people
- Doesn’t look like a future Prime Minister
- No chance of getting into power
- No viable leader to promote a challenge to the government
- Reminds me of Michael Foot
Warren says the feedback from focus groups shows Corbyn is not doing enough to win back socially conservative ex-Labour voters with “sensible” policies.
“The party is refusing to answer the hard questions that these voters are giving them,” he told The Huffington Post UK. “You see it in the focus groups: it’s not just about immigration, they talk about defence and welfare.
“They’ve got strong views on immigration but they’re not racists, they just want something sensible. They want some controls on immigration; they’d like skilled migration; they want people who make a contribution in society, they really don’t like people sponging off the state.”
Warren added the hard work of Labour’s door-knocking volunteer network was being undone by those at the top of the party, whose inability or unwillingness to deal with their former supporters’ concerns would cost them dearly.
He said: “It’s for Labour to answer their concerns and I think they’ve got legitimate, sensible concerns that the party still doesn’t feel comfortable with or want to answer.
“We’re in a position where we have a leadership which is making it so hard for people on the ground to win back these voters.
“It’s the activists on the ground who are doing all the heavy lifting for the party. They’re knocking on doors and having them slammed in their face because the party leadership is refusing to deal with the issues they face on the doorstep.”
‘What do people think about Jeremy Corbyn?’
- He’s not a leader
- 1960s hippy
- Schoolteacher, headteacher, chemistry teacher
- Not much
Warren tempers his focus groups’ analysis with a comment that they are not meant to deliver “the definitive answer on anything”, but says they lend a “depth” and “texture” to voters’ leanings.
But the concerns they raise are not new ones, he adds.
“Back in 2012, I was one of the most vocal critics of Labour asking ‘why aren’t they dealing with this threat because there’s clearly a threat?’ and ‘why are they saying in public that it’s not and it’s more of a problem for the Conservatives?’
”When they finally rang me and said ‘can you come in, the shit’s hit the fan and we need some help’, you find out that internally they had done all this analysis.
“From the outside looking in you might think ‘Well, Labour are just ignoring this threat’. What I subsequently learnt is that you have to be very careful about who you blame for that because it’s not the analysts.
‘What is your sense of the Labour Party today?’
- No direction, they’re fighting with each other, they’re all for themselves
- They’ve got a leader, but he’s no leader because nobody wants to follow him but then nobody wants to step into his place either
- I think (Corbyn) should have just resigned. All that time just messing about
- They’ve lost my vote - because of him
“They kicked it into the tall grass, and they kept doing that until the polls started to get a lot closer and then it got too late.
“Then they were saying ‘This Ukip threat is important now because it could prevent us from getting a majority - let’s do something about it quick.
“And it was too late - it should have been done in 2012.”
‘What do people associate with Jeremy Corbyn?’
- Weak, timid, past his sell-by date
- We need young blood - somebody to fight for us
- He’s like white noise in the background
- He hasn’t got any passion, he’s got no presence
Labour is currently suffering in the polls. The latest findings by ICM put the Conservatives on a 16 point lead with 43%.
Labour is sat on 27% with Ukip polling at 12%. The Liberal Democrats managed 8% with the Greens on 5%.
Despite being re-elected with an overwhelming majority, Corbyn’s personal ratings for being a “capable leader” and “understanding the problems facing Britain” have also sunk dramatically since he first took office a year ago.
Just 18% of those polled in September said the Labour leader was “good in a crisis”, meaning he has fallen five points since the question was asked last year. May notched up the support of 52% of people.