Setback for Labour plotters as poll suggests Jeremy Corbyn can't be ousted
Labour leader is more popular than ever with party members, while critics can't even agree who should be his replacement.
A new poll of Labour members has blunted the knifes of plotters seeking to remove Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership.
The YouGov survey for the Times found that 64 per cent of members would vote for Corbyn in another leadership ballot, indicating that any moves to ditch him as leader any time soon do not stand a chance. In last year’s leadership contest, Corbyn took the votes of nearly 60 per cent of members.
It means that the only scenario in which the leader could be ousted in the short term would be if his critics forced a contest – and then Corbyn opted not to stand. However, in this unlikely scenario another left-wing figure such as John McDonnell could be excepted to triumph instead.
The new poll coincides with comments made by Peter Mandelson in a New Yorker profile of Corbyn. The New Labour architect told the magazine: “We are in a situation now where he is unelectable in the country but unassailable in the Party”.
Before the recent local elections there were rumblings of a coup, with reports that former minister and Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge was being lined up as a stalking horse for a coup attempt. One MP had reportedly told The Sun: “Margaret is our perfect candidate – she has a lot of gravitas but is also expendable.”
But Mandelson’s comments suggest he is resigned to Corbyn being leader of the party for the next year at least. The comments have also been seen by some Labour MPs as a signal to plotters that they should resist moves to dethrone Corbyn until closer to the general election, by which time it is hoped that his support levels in the party might have fallen.
The poll also found that a greater proportion of members now believe that Corbyn will become prime minister at some point. Some 47 per cent say he is likely to enter Downing Street, compared to 40 per cent in November 2015.
Meanwhile, those Labour members who do want to overthrow Corbyn appear unable to agree on who should lead the charge. Some 19 per cent name Dan Jarvis, 17 per cent Andy Burnham and 13 per cent Yvette Cooper. Just five per cent name the one-time rising Labour star Chuka Umunna.