Labour support at three-year high

Latest poll gives Labour a 10-point lead over the Tories for the first time since 2007.

Support for Labour has surged to a three-year high, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos-MORI poll.

The headline figures are 43 points for Labour (up 4 from the last Ipsos poll), 33 for Conservatives (down 5) and 13 for the Liberal Democrats (up 2).

This is the highest lead shown for Labour since the election that never was in 2007, and is significantly larger than the 4- or 5-point leads consistently shown by other pollsters.

While the temptation here is to attribute this big lead to the disastrous GDP figures that came out this week, it is worth noting that the research for this poll was conducted before the figures were released.

This could indicate that public faith in the government's programme of cuts was wavering even before the figures were announced. The poll appears to back this up: it also shows the most pessimistic outlook on the economy since March 2009, with 53 per cent of respondents saying they believed the economy would get worse in the next 12 months, and just 24 per cent saying they thought it would get better.

David Cameron's personal approval rating, though still higher than that of his party, is the lowest since he took office.

Although the poll seems to be doom and gloom for the Tories, there is some good news for their coalition partner – the small increase in Lib Dem support has been consistently reflected across the polls in recent weeks.

It is, of course, difficult to say how far this poll is an outlier. The true test will come in May with the local elections, when we will see whether this fall in Conservative support is reflected at the ballot box.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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