It will be policies not personalities which shape the outcome of this election, that’s what Jeremy Corbyn told me when I asked him about the Marmite thing.
In case you’ve missed it, he’s taken to heading off criticism of his style of leadership by comparing himself to the breakfast spread which is supposedly loved and loathed.
He even used it in his speech to a rally of Labour supporters in Swansea which is where I met him.
It’s an acknowledgement that his personality and his politics can be divisive and can put some people off, even long-standing Labour voters. I’ve lost count of the number of Welsh Labour candidates and campaigners – even Corbyn supporters – who’ve told me that the leader is an issue which is raised with them on the doorstep.
As well as insisting that ‘Marmite is really good for you,’ when I asked Jeremy Corbyn if he was costing his party support here in Wales he said:
He also denied that his late entrance into the campaign in Wales (this is his first visit and the election is on Thursday) is an acknowledgement of his unpopularity, saying that there have been many shadow cabinet visits and it was ‘always in the plan to come there this weekend.’
Away from personality, I asked him about two policies. Labour is committed to reviving the stalled plan for a Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. I asked him if he’d stick with that despite huge questions over the project’s viability. It was a clear, ‘yes.’ Would he put the money in regardless? ‘We will put the money in to get the project underway.’
He brushed aside criticism of Welsh Labour’s mixed record on the health service and in particular, social care. His party is promising in this election to introduce free social care in England but his party has failed to do so in Wales despite being in power for 20 years.
At first he told me that was because of its shrinking budgets from Westminster but when I pointed out that Labour had not done it when budgets were much bigger, he said social care needs have changed ‘enormously’ over the last ten years.
Either way, he committed the Welsh Labour government to bringing in widespread, free social care. ‘Labour in Wales,’ he told me, ‘will develop a social care system [that brings] free personal care for those who need it and residential care for the elderly.’
For the record, the Welsh Labour manifesto simply states that ‘With this additional resource [from a UK Labour government] we would engage with people and communities to inform our approach to extending free social care.’