Polling and Labour’s prospects
Owen Jones

Where do I begin. I am a mathematician and the level of naivety in reading, interpreting and critiquing polls is quite astonishing to me, Owen, including your own. You are correct that the left will be blamed for a terrible defeat if things go on as they are . However that will be because people who should know better (people like you) are buying into a narrative that is not supported by the evidence (including polling evidence: flawed as that is, it nevertheless does not support the argument that you are making). You have hints of insight: yes, the dramatic drop can only sensibly be interpreted as a response to the ‘attempted coup’ — but you fail to emphasise the obvious point that it is the very same undermining of the leadership (persistent since before he was elected) that is the most likely cause of the mediocre level of the baseline from which that drop occured — instead, you harp on about the pattern of polls at other points in time. The pattern of polls at most other times is a complete irrelevance to what happens when a leader is until persistent attack! If you want to make an analogy with polls from the past, look at the pattern around the time of the Limehouse declaration. And I mean REALLY look at it. The same people who are trying to blame poll results on Corbyn now are the ones who will tell you that Foot lost because he was too left wing. That is not what the evidence says. By not challenging the misconceptions full on; by, instead, challenging those who are making more sensible assessments of the available evidence than you are yourself, you are legitimising the false claims being made and you have begun to contribute to the self-fulfilling prophesy of the failure of Corbyn’s Labour. Unity is the key and, frankly, Corbyn has bent over backwards to try to work with a cross-Party team. His attempts have been thrown back in his face time after time. I had a personal assurance from Tom W. at the end of Conference that there was a real will for unity. I actually believed it. And it is interesting to note the better poll results when it looked likely that that would happen (a short period, admittedly. The reality is that by the time I had driven from Liverpool to Birmingham I had heard 3 former SC members undermining Corbyn on the radio. It is THAT situation that needs to be the focus of your attention. I live in a key marginal. We do work together. We returned a Labour-led council. We achieved a 10% majority for ‘Remain’. We are united in being cross that we were not allowed to campaign over the Summer. We are now finalising manifesto/camapign startegy design at County level and organising across branches at the CLP level. And we are united in being thoroughly, thoroughly fed up with our work being undermined by disloyal PLP members and by commentators who are feeding the narrative of those who oppose the success of Labour under Corbyn. I look forward, with annoyance and sadness, at the next round of negative, anti-Corbyn comments that begin, “Even previous supporters of Corbyn, like Owen Jones . . .”. In fact it was the first of them that led me to this article. You must, by now, realise that this is how your work has come to be used? Do you really believe that what you are choosing to do is having an overall beneficial impact on our chances of unity and success?

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