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Here Are Voters' Brutal Assessments Of The Labour Leadership Candidates

Jeremy Corbyn is a bitter hippy, according to former Labour voters.

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People who used to vote Labour but have since fallen out of love with the party have been asked what they think about the four leadership candidates, and they've been pretty savage.

Jeremy Corbyn (left), Yvette Cooper (second left), Andy Burnham (second right) and Liz Kendall (right) take part in a Labour Party leadership hustings, moderated by Paul Waugh (centre).
Peter Byrne / PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn (left), Yvette Cooper (second left), Andy Burnham (second right) and Liz Kendall (right) take part in a Labour Party leadership hustings, moderated by Paul Waugh (centre).

Discussion groups of people aged between 30 and 50 who used to vote Labour were put together by Newsnight and respected market research firm IPSOS Mori and were asked exactly what they thought of the four leadership candidates, one of whom will become Labour leader next month.

This form of research is used by political parties to tune their message and plays a key role in shaping policy and how it's presented. It's quite unusual for findings to be made public, but they give an insight into what typical voters, rather than political obsessives, think.

These are the voters Labour will have to win back to have any chance of winning the next election in 2020. This is what the groups said about each candidate.

The groups decided that Jeremy Corbyn was a "hippy", "bitter", and "the older guy with the grey hair".

Alex Britton / PA Wire/PA Images

"He's the older guy with the grey hair who's got all the policies straight out of the '60s and is a bit of a hippy as well, is what he comes across as."

"He just seems quite divisive and he's just going to kind of bitch and moan, to be honest, about everything else."

"He was just going to be the opposite of conservatives, but there might be policies on the conservative side that, y'know, might be good policies."

"[Corbyn's inequality policies] made him sound very bitter and jealous of the richer people."

"I've heard in the paper he's the favourite to win the labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won't be voting for Labour, put it that way."


Liz Kendall was compared to a boring headteacher with "no personality".

Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/PA Images

"None of it came from the heart."

"She just sounds like someone's told her to say something, it's not coming from the heart; she needs passion."

"Rather than saying what she's going to do, she's attacking."

"She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn't seem to have any sort of personality, and you can't imagine her being a leader of a party."

Yvette Cooper got quite a decent reaction, but was accused of "dumbing herself down" to distance herself from her husband, Ed Balls, and talking about "mainly mum things".

Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment

"I think she's trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she's dumbing herself down."

"Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well."

"She was addressing the issues with working-class people."

"It's OK to say you want to give all these benefits back to people, but where is this money coming from?"

"She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]."


People just seemed to think Andy Burnham looked too young to be leader, while somehow also representing the "old guard" of the party.

Danny Lawson / PA Wire/PA Images

"I was surprised how long he'd been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn't look old enough."

"He seemed a bit young."

"He's the old guard, with Yvette Cooper."

"Strongish leader, and at least he's acknowledging and saying 'let's move on from here' as opposed to wishy-washy."

Summing up, the group sounded less than enthusiastic about the candidates.

Lynne Cameron / PA Wire/PA Images

"There's three people up there that could potentially be in it for me. There's one that I'd never vote for. [Who's that?] The old chap. Corbyn, Jeremy Corbyn."

"With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there's a lot of rhetoric but there doesn't seem to be a lot of direction behind what they're saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action."

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

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