Labour would emerge stronger from TIG split if Corbyn goes

This article was first published on February 25th, 2019

It is way too early to draw solid conclusions about The Independent Group. It isn’t yet a party and, despite plenty of coverage, most voters are probably still figuring out who they are. Their prospects and the wider effects remain an unpredictable, fast developing process.

Nevertheless, we have some polls and the immediate signals will surprise few. TIG are a mortal threat to Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of ever becoming PM. Deltapoll took three surveys – two involving TIG, including one with an un-named alternative Labour leader. The differences are stark.

Polls confirm Corbyn is a drag on Labour support

On the standard question not involving TIG, Conservatives lead by 7%. With TIG included – scoring a respectable 11% – their lead increases to eight. But look what happens with a different Labour leader – those deficits become a 3% lead, even though TIG are still on 7%.

Those numbers will surprise few among the majority of voters, who have never rated Corbyn as a potential PM. Labour’s odds to win Most Seats at the Next General Election continue to drift – out to 2.64 this morning from around 2.2 a week ago.

They will also reinforce the wider narrative that TIG will have the same Tory-enabling effect as the SDP did in the 1980s – as discussed here last week.

On reflection, however, it may be more complicated than that. The secondary poll does not bode at all well for the Tories. Corbyn will be 70 in May and facing a growing parliamentary revolt. Take him out of the equation and the dynamics might rapidly change.

Nor can we rely on parallels with the 1980s. The idea that the SDP enabled Thatcher has always been fake history – academic evidence at the time suggested she would have won regardless. That isn’t to doubt their profound effect.

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