Public says it prefers Tories, but demands Corbyn’s Labour policies – poll

Britain's Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a Stand Up To Racism rally in London, Britain October 8, 2016. © Neil Hall
He might trail in the polls when it comes to his chances of becoming Britain’s next prime minister, but it appears Jeremy Corbyn’s policies are far more popular than the Tories’ – as long as no one knows they come from the Labour Party.

A new poll by YouGov, commissioned by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC), has revealed that 45 percent of Britons want the government to spend more on public services and raise taxes for the rich. Only 13 percent support the spending cuts promoted by the Conservatives over the last six years.

But while Corbyn has championed anti-austerity policies for years now, polls suggest people still regard the Tories as having the best strategy on fiscal and economic issues. Thirty-six percent said they did not know whose ideas were best, while 30 percent trusted the Tories the most, against 16 percent for Labour.

On all fronts, people seemed to prefer the policies of Jeremy Corbyn, but similar political views did not translate into support for the Labour leader.

“There is a worrying disconnect between the economic policies that many voters support and the parties they associate with those policies,” said MRC chair and author Justin Schlosberg. “We feel that much of the media have been more preoccupied with dismissing Jeremy Corbyn as ‘unelectable’ than with seriously reporting on the policies he represents.

“Since the economy is often the issue that wins or loses general elections, it is imperative that journalists now give due attention and scrutiny to the economic alternatives put forward by the official opposition, as well as other anti-austerity parties. This is not about a failure of communication on the part of Labour so much as a failure of nerve on the part of a great swathe of the news media. Without a change in approach, our democracy is in deep crisis.”

Other areas where the public unknowingly sang from Corbyn’s song-sheet included the NHS and the nationalization of the railways. But when asked which side of the Commons would be better at “overseeing the balance between public and private ownership,” it was the Tories that won (24 percent to Labour’s 16 percent).

Media commentator Roy Greenslade told the Huffington Post that most of the mainstream media had been “antagonistic, and sometimes openly hostile” to Corbyn and his wing of the party.

“Overall I would say that Labour’s policies – if they exist, and I’m being cynical already – have not been covered in any depth,” Greenslade said.

“Corybn represents something that the largely right-wing press believed was dead and buried, which is a socialist alternative to capitalism, that’s what really worries them.”

He added: “If you go into a street and ask people whether they want to pay more tax, they say no, but if you ask them if they think there should be extra public spending, they say yes. You can’t have both, and these are contradictions are embedded in our culture and society, and don’t reflect wider media coverage, nor indeed do they reflect an understanding of what the parties stand for most of the time.”