Jeremy Corbyn's 'traingate' row with Virgin Trains actually made him more popular with his supporters, poll finds

Standing up to the private train operator won the Labour leader plaudits with some

Jon Stone
Wednesday 31 August 2016 09:56
comments
The CCTV released by Virgin Trains
The CCTV released by Virgin Trains

The so-called “traingate” row over whether Jeremy Corbyn had to sit on the floor of a train actually made him more popular with his supporters, an opinion study has found.

The Labour leader was dragged into a bizarre row with Virgin Trains after he recorded a video complaining of overcrowding on their services. The private rail company released CCTV footage of the journey and suggested Mr Corbyn had ignored empty seats to sit on the floor.

But a new poll shows that far from tarnishing Mr Corbyn’s reputation, standing up to the privatised operator has won the leader plaudits with some of his supporters and solidified their votes for him.

Of people planning to vote for Mr Corbyn in the Labour leadership election, 18 per cent told a YouGov/Times survey the events had given them a more positive view of the leader, compared to just 5 per cent who said it had given them a more negative view.

The positive view of Mr Corbyn's confrontation may be down to the simple unpopularity of train operating companies, including Virgin Trains.

Corbyn supporters' enthusiasm was not shared amongst all Labour members. Of all members, 11 per cent said the events had improved their opinion, while 20 per cent said it had made their view negative.

The overwhelming response to the episode from the wider membership was a yawn, however. 67 per cent said the event had no effect on their views of Mr Corbyn; the vast majority of those said their view of him were positive anyway.

CCTV shows Jeremy Corbyn taking a seat on train after filming himself sitting on the floor

The same poll shows Mr Corbyn soundly beating his rival Owen Smith in the Labour leadership election with an increased mandate of 62 per cent to 38 per cent.

Mr Corbyn lashed out at journalists at a press conference the day after Virgin released CCTV footage of the event. He said the press conference was not about trains but rather about the NHS.

Accounts of the “traingate” incident differed but others passengers on the train later came forward to confirm that it was indeed very busy. Scattered accounts suggest Mr Corbyn was able to find a seat after bunched passengers were moved down the train by a member of staff.

Mr Corbyn has pledged to take private rail franchises into public ownership, reversing decades of privatisation in the system.

Sam Tarry, Mr Corbyn's campaign director, predicted last week that the row with Virgin Trains would in fact boost Mr Corbyn's relection chances by highlighting his popular transport policy.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments