The Independent have an article up about some YouGov numbers that will be taken as definitive proof by the Left that Jeremy Corbyn was the sole reason behind the unexpected Labour surge in the election. “Just 6 per cent of Labour voters backed the party because of their local MP” it’s called, and it thankfully provides a link to the numbers.
True enough, only six percent of self-identified Labour voters say they did so because of their local MP. The Left will say this undercuts the “people voted Labour despite Corbyn” narrative. Yet it’s worth pointing out that only 13% said they did so because of Corbyn. Which is higher than six, but not much. Truth is, asking people why they voted the way they did in a general election, even only a few weeks after the event, rarely gets you any real nuggets of wisdom. People often don’t really know why they vote, and more than that, often forget why they actually went the way they did, their ideas around this merging with any number of popular narratives that emerge post-election, obscuring their genuine memory of the event.
Besides this important point, there are several categories that you can shove together in the YouGov poll which all basically mean “I always vote Labour”, just phrased differently, that collectively get you 40% of the Labour vote; 28% said they voted Labour because of the manifesto. Thus, mostly what we saw in the election was the Labour core vote holding up much more than anyone really predicted, and a bunch of middle-class people, unsurprisingly, being wooed by a bunch of policies designed to improve the lives of the middle-class. If anything, if you took the numbers at face value you’d say Corbyn was rather unimportant in the grand scheme of why so many more people voted Labour than anyone thought possible beforehand last month.
But again, that doesn’t make intuitive sense either. There’s definitely something in the Corbyn phenomenon, I think there’s no doubt about that. The real question is whether it can last, particularly as he’s back to being the poor leader of the opposition he’s always been (Tories as usual sweating their own backbench more than Labour, on Brexit in particular). That’s what will decide the next general election, almost certainly.