Jeremy Corbyn’s allies believe Labour needs to win 35 per cent of the vote in May’s elections to avert an attempt to oust him as party leader.
One source close to Mr Corbyn said he feared it could even be the “beginning of the end” for the Labour leader if the party fails to secure that level of support in contests for London Mayor, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and English local councils.
The scale of the challenge he faces is underlined by an end-of-year poll of polls for the Independent showing Labour has only achieved a modest bounce in support since he became leader in September.
The party enters 2016 on around 33 per cent, five points behind the Conservatives, suggesting it could be heading for a poor performance in the contests on 5 May.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Labour sources are braced for a hammering in Scotland and for the party to lose scores of seats in the English local elections. Labour’s Sadiq Khan is the narrow favourite to become the next Mayor of London, but will face a tough battle with the Tory candidate, Zac Goldsmith.
“We need to be aiming to get 35 per cent in May to show we are making progress. If we don’t get around that level, it might be the beginning of the end,” said a Corbyn ally.
The source said the leadership team was buoyed up by the party’s comfortable victory in last month’s Oldham West and Royton by-election and intended to capitalise on the success in the new year.
“We’re using the break to look at the mistakes we’ve made and regroup. You can expect us to become more positive and policy-focused and go on the offensive.”
The comments echo claims by disaffected centrist MPs that Mr Corbyn needs to demonstrate his electoral appeal this year to prove he is not leading the party to defeat. One said: “You can expect a lot of muttering and talk of plots if we lose in London and get wiped out in Scotland.”
A weighted average of last month’s polls puts the Conservatives on 38 per cent, Labour on 33 per cent, Ukip on 10 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent, and the Greens on 5 per cent.
Tory and Labour support have edged up since the election, with Ukip support falling slightly and the Lib Dems remaining stuck in single figures. Labour stood on 30 per cent support in August, the month before Mr Corbyn’s leadership triumph, rising to 32 per cent in September.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who calculated the averages, said: “Despite the claims of Mr Corbyn’s supporters that he will attract support from the previously disengaged, there is no evidence the party is proving particularly successful at winning over those who failed to vote in May. Indeed, all the parties find themselves at the end of the year still in much the same position as they were in the general election.”
Reshuffle: Shadow Cabinet
A Labour reshuffle is due within weeks with Jeremy Corbyn expected to sack or demote shadow cabinet members for failing to share his “direction of travel”. Big names including Hilary Benn, Maria Eagle and Michael Dugher could be replaced by Corbynists or MPs who accept his huge mandate from the party’s grassroots. Here’s who may get a promotion:
* Diane Abbott (shadow International Development Secretary): Veteran MP shares Corbyn’s politics, is his parliamentary neighbour and had a relationship with him. She served on the front bench under Ed Miliband but was sacked for “disloyalty”. She sent her son to a private school, which she admitted was “indefensible”.
* Jon Trickett (shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary): The former leader of Leeds Council nominated Corbyn for the leadership. An opponent of Trident renewal.
* Richard Burgon (shadow City minister): New MP and Motörhead fan, among Corbyn’s most enthusiastic supporters. Had a difficult start in his portfolio, admitting he could not remember Britain’s budget deficit and was yet to meet anyone from the City of London’s financial industry.
* Cat Smith (shadow minister for Women): She says: “I’m a socialist. And in no particular order I’m also a feminist, Christian, environmentalist, trade unionist, republican and proud Northerner who calls a spade and spade.”
* Emily Thornberry (shadow Employment minister): Corbyn brought his fellow Islington MP back to the front bench after she resigned over a “snobby” picture she posted of a house bedecked with England flags. Voted for Yvette Cooper as leader.Reuse content