by Atul Hatwal
Jeremy Corbyn will not win the Labour leadership. No matter how real the fevered hallucinations currently seem on this acid trip of a leadership contest, they aren’t real.
Predictions of a Corbyn triumph are based on two assumptions: that the polls are right and Labour’s new recruits have been drawn in because of him and his agenda.
Both are wrong.
The polls and campaign canvass returns overstate his support in the same way that Labour’s support was over-estimated in general election polls and the party’s new mass membership is not a seething hotbed of radical ideologues.
The coda for pollsters from the general election was that simply asking people for their voting preference didn’t give answers which reflected actual voting intention.
Mark Textor, Lynton Crosby’s business partner and the man who conducted the Tories’ internal polling, recently held forth on why his polls were right when so many others were so wrong.
He made two points of note.
First, voters frequently use opinion polls as an outlet for protest.
In an online world of one-click opinion, sticking two fingers up at the Tories by backing Labour in a poll was simple, cost free and gratifying. Less easy to actually vote Labour when most did not trust the party on the economy and it was led by someone who few believed to be prime ministerial.
Second, voters’ make their choice on the basis of the outcome they want to avoid as well as the party they support.
While waverers might have been prepared to consider the idea of a Labour government, even with reservations on leadership and the economy, the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition, with Ed Miliband run ragged and dragged even further left on spending by Nicola Sturgeon, tipped the balance. So they voted tactically to prevent what they most feared – even if this meant holding their nose and voting Tory.
These insights are directly relevant to Labour’s leadership race.
After a crushing, demoralising general election defeat for the party, what better way for frustrated members and supporters to flick the bird at the leadership than to tell pollsters and canvassers they are backing Corbyn?