The four clever moves that could make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister, according to an expert

LondonLovesBusiness spoke to pollster Ben Page

He did it in the leadership contest to win with 59% of the vote, but can the Corbyn beat the odds to become prime minister? We asked Ben Page, CEO of market researcher Ipsos MORI, what Corbyn should do before 2020 if he has any hope of entering Number 10.

Galvanise young people to vote

Corbyn’s support is largely among people who don’t vote, Page says.

“At the general election in May, there was a fall in voter-turnout from the under 24s. If they could be persuaded to all rush out and vote for Jeremy Corbyn he’s home and dry – he’d have a landslide – but the evidence is they tend not to.

“He has a fertile appeal to young working class non-voters and nobody has ever managed to get them to vote before but maybe he will do it,” Page says.

“The craziest things can happen – we’ve seen it with Syriza in Greece – but it just doesn’t quite ring true. Why did turnout fall at the last election among the under 24s? They’re the people who have been stuffed by the government, and yet they couldn’t be bothered to vote.”

Hit the swing voters too

While Corbyn might motivate some extra voters to support him, Page says, at the same time he has precisely the opposite effect on people who voted Labour in 1997, 2001 and possibly 2005.

Swing voters might see him as too extreme, he says, while voters on the left mostly already voted Labour at the election.

“Let’s face it, you can argue about whether Ed Miliband was left-wing enough at the general election, but when it came to it, who else did left-wing voters vote for? I can’t see who else they voted for in huge numbers and instead what we saw, of course, was UKIP going from 3% to 12% and the Lib Dems shrinking.”

Jeremy Corbyn 5

Be a leader

“People like strong political leadership. Why did people vote Blair? Because they knew what he stood for,” Page says.

Corbyn’s still settling in and voters don’t know what kind of leader he is just yet but “if he doesn’t do media interviews and he doesn’t turn up at PMQs, it will appear that he’s evasive and he’ll get massively attacked for not doing so.”

Convince people he’s competent

Labour has had trouble convincing people it’s a competent party in the past. Page says it doesn’t matter whether people have heard of his shadow cabinet, since most people couldn’t tell you who is in the cabinet. However, what the shadow cabinet need to do, is appear competent.

“Not only do you have to have the program that people can buy into but they also have to believe you’re capable of delivering it,” Page says.

“Blair won, whereas Kinnock didn’t, because people believed he was competent. They thought he would put up taxes and still voted for him – even rich people are not against paying more tax generally if they believe that money is going to be well-spent. The challenge is - can Corbyn convince people he will be competent in delivering his plans?”

But can he actually win the next general election?

A quarter of the population won’t have any view at all at the moment, Page says, as they won’t have paid any attention to the Labour leadership contest. The next three months will be crucial to those people making up their minds.

“Before May, if you’d put £1,000 on that by Christmas Jeremy Corbyn will be the leader of the opposition, and John McDonnall will be the shadow chancellor you’d be a very rich person. So who knows?”

But what’s the pollster’s verdict?

“If they were able to draw level with the Tories, I will eat my hat.”

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Readers' comments (3)

  • No mention here of his policy on Trident which I believe is a 'big issue'. I think that is one policy he needs to consider carefully if he wants to get Labour in to number 10 more than stcking to his own 'somewhat radical' beliefs. Radical views generate interest in politics and a certain amount of support, but would sufficient voters be comfortable with a nation as large as ourselves and so potentially vulnerable to terrorist attack, and the dangers bubbling under of superpowers such as Russia, to be without the ultimate deterrent of Nuclear. Yes I agree wholeheartedly that the money could be most usefully spent in other areas such as health and education, and i myself would in many ways prefer this as a pacifist, but would it be reallocated there anyway if our defence budget were slashed. Something like Trident always seems a complete waste on money when it is never used, but like any insurance policy it is there if you need it, and Britain is a nation of spenders on insurance! JC needs to think very carefully on this one, he may have the same initials as the son of god, but playing God is a far different thing, as Tony Blair found out to his cost.

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  • I am amused to hear that these rather obvious comments come from an expert. To be an "expert" a person only has to call themselves one or,, perhaps better,. have a third party say so.

    Every comment made about Corbyn's ability to reach Number 10 can be said about any other political leader. He may have been voted in as Labour leader but it seems likely that this was rigged on account of the surge of registered supporters many of whom may have cast their vote knowing that Corbyn will not appeal to the great majority of people.

    Most of what Corbyn has t o say is shallow and simplistic and he fails to realise that everything was as simple as he suggests it would have happened long ago.

    Corbyn is only 66 but he looks ten years older and I am not sure that he has the health to be an effective Leader of the Opposition.

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  • Anonymous

    There's no mention of the Scots in this "expert" analysis and as long as the Scottish voters keep voting SNP he's got virtually no chance of creating a big enough swing to become PM.

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