Hold your ground, keep going – and stay true to your principles.
This is the advice for Jeremy Corbyn from Guardian readers, who overwhelmingly believe he has done an excellent job in his first 100 days leading the Labour party, according to the thousands who responded to our survey.
As well as general approval of Corbyn’s performance, the survey revealed frustration at the media’s negative coverage of Labour’s new leader, particularly from quarters our readers felt should be more sympathetic to his views. Many expressed anger at the Guardian’s coverage as well.
We received just under 12,000 responses to our call-out, with 62% of respondents identifying as Labour members. While a self-selecting sample, the large volume of responses provided an insight into the hopes, priorities and frustrations of Labour voters, members and sympathisers still coming to terms with May’s election defeat.
While some doubted Corbyn’s ability to appeal to voters beyond the Labour membership who enthusiastically made him leader, a majority of respondents felt that his qualities would win him enough new converts to take the battle to the Conservatives – and even win 2020’s general election.
Sunday’s Opinium/Observer poll found Labour 8 points adrift of the Conservatives, with 20% naming Corbyn as best potential prime minister against 41% for David Cameron.
In our reader survey, there was praise for Labour’s victory over tax credits, and sympathy with Corbyn’s decison to grant a free vote on airstrikes in Syria after consulting with members. Readers were also pleased with the Labour leader’s crowdsourcing approach to prime minister’s questions.
“His stand against [airstrikes in] Syria gave voice to the huge numbers of people who see no sense in more bombing,” said Mike Roberts in Kent.
Labour’s victory in the recent Oldham East byelection was taken as a sign that the party was heading in the right direction.
“I think he’s a breath of fresh air,” said Neil Gutteridge in Swindon. “I’m a consistent voter for progressive parties, but in recent years the Labour party has lost its soul. Corbyn should stick to his guns and build a broad coalition. He has an overwhelming mandate within his own party.”
“[At] the last and the previous general elections everyone said that all politicians are the same: I agreed,” said Paul Wright in Bedford. “Now we have an alternative, and a less narrow narrative. And I’m a retired chartered accountant, hardly a revolutionary.”
“He has displayed incredible patience in the face of an onslaught of childish attacks from the press,” said Sarah Ball in London.
But some felt he could do better in his relations with the media. “He needs to improve on rebuttal in the press,” said James Handy, a Labour member from London. “Much of the criticism Corbyn has faced could be easily dealt with.”
There were also pleas for members of the parliamentary Labour party to stop briefing against Corbyn, and for his shadow cabinet in particular to acknowledge his mandate in the wider party after his landslide leadership election victory.
“They live in a bubble and genuinely do not know how angry people like me were and still are for their policies of formenting war, as well as introducing student tuition fees and the creeping privatisation of the NHS,” said Damien Stone in Dorset, a former member and councillor who left the party over Iraq but rejoined because of Corbyn.
Others were less convinced. Tim O’Malley, a longstanding Labour member from Staffordshire, worried about “unforced errors” and expressed doubt that Corbyn could lead the party to victory.
“When it comes to policy, I have an open mind”, said O’Malley. “We have lost two elections and therefore we have to reassess our position. I’m not judging him on left versus right: he is our leader and therefore my tests are on competence and credibility. I believe this is also how the electorate will judge him.”
Another reader concern was whether Corbyn would be able to hold the party together, give tensions within the parliamentary Labour party and disagreements on a local level.
“I have been a member of the Labour party for 30 years and I have never known a time when it felt so divided,” said Danny Golding, from York.
How do you rate Corbyn’s first 100 days as Labour leader? Share your views in the comments section below
This article was written by James Walsh and Guardian readers, for theguardian.com on Monday 21st December 2015 12.53 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010