Jeremy Corbyn has been a controversial figure since an against-the-odds victory led to him becoming The Labour Party’s new leader last month. Papers such as The Guardian have suggested that the Conservatives “plan to use one parliamentary vote after another” to “weaken” the party. However, following threatened resignations of Shadow Cabinet ministers, apparent u-turns over issues ranging from Trident to the EU to his own membership of the Privy Council, and with the leader continually pilloried in the press for dressing (at best) like Mr Bean, refusing to respond to media questions and apparently showing disrespect at state occasions, many press reports have speculated that The Labour Party is already in an advanced stage of fragmentation.
Brighton has played host to the labour party conference this past week and Bjournal can reveal not all party members were too impressed with Corbyn. Our source heard at one event that members had said “not to worry” too much about the new leader’s ideas, as they could block them from “getting through” anyway!
Other reports, such as that from The Daily Telegraph, have reported that Blairite Shadow Cabinet members such as Mary Creagh, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt all left Brighton early, which were not considered promising signs in terms of future political unity. The same report also noted that Corbyn has polled the worst rating in YouGov opinion polls of any opposition leader on record. In a few short weeks Corbyn has achieved an astonishing ‘-8’ approval rate, less than the ‘zero’ achieved by disastrous former Labour Party leader Michael Foot, and the equally disatrous Iain Duncan-Smith of the Conservatives. By contrast Corbyn’s predecessor Ed Milliband achieved a ‘+26’ rating after taking control of the party.
“Our source heard at one event that members had said “not to worry” too much about the new leader’s ideas, as they could block them from “getting through” anyway!”
More promisingly for Corbyn a Sky News poll taken live during the event claimed that 59% of people would be more likely to vote for him after his maiden conference speech, and 53% of people could see him as the future Prime Minister. However, although Sky collected information relating to the age, gender and political affiliation of those taking part in the Sky Pulse survey, these were not broadcast, so it is unclear whether the audience consisted mostly of Labour supporters.
While individual Labour Party members may believe they can blunt Jeremy Corbyn’s ambitions, the country at large is more likely to judge the party on the views of its leader than the mutterings of discontented party activists. Given the Hard Left’s propensity for deselection, political purges and lack of tolerance for dissent, it remains to be seen whether and for how long the party faithful will be able to restrain Corbyn.
While this year’s Labour Party Conference in Brighton was fascinating enough, we can’t wait to see what next year’s conference will bring.