At a time when George Osborne is reducing state expenditure to just 36% of GDP Labour should be well ahead in the opinion polls. It’s not. The latest ComRes poll has the Conservatives on 42% with Labour trailing on 27% and UKIP on 15%. Fears are now being expressed that the party could lose the Oldham West by election, won with a 14,700 majority back in May.
It is clear that Corbyn has failed to connect with the public. While many welcome his anti austerity message few see him as a potential PM; and his close allies, John McDonnell, Ken Livingston and Diane Abbot are equally unappealing to the electorate.
But Labour’s problems do not start and end with Corbyn. Indeed Corbyn’s election was guaranteed when interim leader Harriet Harman decided that the party would abstain on Osborne’s planned welfare cuts.
Many Conservative backbenchers made trenchant criticisms of the proposed tax credit cuts which put Labour to shame. The cuts would have affected low paid workers.
And those who opposed Corbyn failed to develop a narrative that would provide Labour with a vision to attract former voters back into the fold.
As Harold Wilson once said “The Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing”.
If the present situation continues Labour may be out of power for 15 years.
• Keith Geddes is policy director of Pagoda Porter Novelli and former president of CoSLA.