Jeremy Corbyn adds 20 percentage points to Labour’s vote, says Diane Abbott
'Without him, we could easily be languishing in single digits in polls.'
Support for the Labour Party is at its lowest level since the 2015 election, according to a recent ICM poll for the Guardian.
But Diane Abbott has said that if could be worse for the party. If he was to be replaced by anyone from the moderate wing of the party.
“Compared to all his critics, Jeremy Corbyn is worth about 18-20 percentage points to Labour’s vote. Without him, and led by any one of his vocal critics, we could easily be languishing in single digits in polls,” stated Abbott today.
The shadow home secretary’s comments suggest that allies of Corbyn are fearing a renewed effort by Labour rebels to challenge him for the leadership if the party loses seats in local elections.
The Labour leader’s parliamentary critics have recently been keeping relatively quiet and waiting to see if Corbyn’s supporters will turn on him – or if he will decide to go of his own accord.
But the leading psephologist Professor John Curtice has predicted Labour could lose between 50 and 100 seats in next month’s local elections.
Writing for the LabourList website, Abbott also praised Corbyn’s opposition to US missile strikes on Syria and it should be “a sharp reminder that Jeremy Corbyn is indispensable to forging a new politics”.
She argued that critics of Corbyn should learn from the Dutch Labour Party and the French Socialist Party, who “talked about opposing austerity but then implemented it”.
She added: “No doubt there are somewhere Dutch and French versions of Peter Mandelson saying that these policies were necessary, or they were popular or they showed firm leadership.
“They were none of the above. They were indefensible and they proved electorally disastrous. Yet these are precisely the policies that Corbyn’s critics would have him adopt, and would implement themselves if they managed to oust him. They would prove equally disastrous.”
The recent ICM poll put the Conservatives on 43 per cent and Labour on 25 per cent.
ICM’s director Martin Boon said earlier this month that support for Labour has only fallen this low only twice since it began conducting regular surveys, in June and August 2009, when Gordon Brown was prime minister.
Corbyn has blamed the party’s poll performance on the media’s failure to cover policy issues and the decision of Labour MPs to mount a leadership challenge last year.