A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What Labour Members want

Last week's YouGov poll of Labour members - http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/Labfinal060907.pdf - didn't really tell us anything we didn't know about their opinions on the leadership - broadly that they want Blair to go fairly quickly but would be angry if he was forced out, and that Brown is the only potential leadership candidate with any meaningful level of support (with the usual proviso that things can change very fast).

For me as someone who is more concerned about the ideological direction of the party than the (fascinating but not very edifying) questions of who gets what job and who is whose ally, the interesting bits were the questions about policy and political labels.

These should be studied carefully by Brown's people as at some stage they need to publicly resolve where Brown sits in terms of the slightly schizoid nature of his support base i.e. that it manages to contain people who can barely stand the sight of each other like Tom Watson and Neal Lawson. I'm completely certain that Brown's own instincts are nearer to my kind of politics than to the Compassite bit of his support base but so far he's not explicitly repudiated the Compass outrider stuff - indeed he spoke at their conference earlier this year.

The poll may help Brown realise that there are a lot more potential votes at my end of the Party than on the left.

Key stats (and to The Daily - http://thedaily.wordpress.com/2006/09/08/first-leadership-poll-of-party-members/ - yes I admit I am guilty of cherry picking):

64% agree that "In order for Labour to keep winning general elections, it’s important to govern Britain from near the centre, and not to switch to more left-wing policies"
Only 7% of members are "very leftwing" (about the same as John McDonnell's 5% support and almost exactly the percentage of members who voted for the Grassroots Alliance NEC slate).
58% don't think that Blair is "Bush's poodle"
67% think British troops should stay in Iraq "as long as Iraq’s governmentwants"
56% support 90 day detention of terrorist suspects
64% want some kind of Trident replacement
60% want new nuclear power stations

However, like me, most members seem to be less enthusiastic about further NHS and education reforms.


Blogger El Dave. said...

Were there any questions about internal party democracy?

1:22 pm, September 11, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No but there was an earlier poll of members that YouGov did on behalf of Save the Labour Party's LabOUR Commission which asked those questions.

1:45 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous A soft socialist said...

Whats wrong with Brown's compassite base?

1:49 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look on the mirror site for a great picture of you, Jed and Mrs Akehurst - I guess it was taken when you went on your recent holiday, yes?


Beats the vicar in his Y-fronts, hands down!

1:58 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

"The poll may help Brown realise that there are a lot more potential votes at my end of the Party than on the left."

what would have you answered at the first question? (both in terms of your position and B&B one)

2:45 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Thomas said...

Brown didn't speak at the Compass conference this year - maybe you're thinking of Ed Balls? He did however speak at the first Compass conference two years ago. Recently he seems to have been trying to cultivate the centrists within the party rather than the soft left, talking about replacing Trident etc. I hope that there is a leadership contest and that he recieves a challenge from the right so that he will forced to talk more about policy and the direction he wants to take the party. I think there's definitely a good case for Alan Milburn standing - he's English, has less association with the party's soft-left than Brown, and perhaps most importantly can't be regarded as a career politician like Brown. Having resigned from the cabinet to spend more time with his family he'd be able to square up to Cameron when he talks about 'work-life balance'. Whatever you think about Milburn no one can deny that he has a clear vision about where he thinks the party should heading ("direction of travel" etc). I think it would cause problems for Labour if he did stand but these are problems that the party needs to face up to at some point. A Blair-Brown coronation with no discussion about policy is the worst thing that could happen for Labour in the long-term. It would in effect be like deferring these necessary debates until the next leadership election.

3:45 pm, September 11, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Andrea - I did answer the first Q as I am on the YouGov panel. I said I saw myself as "slightly left of centre" and put Blair and Brown in the same category.

Thomas - I stand corrected, though Ed speaking at an event tend to imply Brown's endorsement. I really don't see Alan Milburn as a credible leadership candidate.

7:25 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

Thanks Luke.
I was interested to know it, because in that type of questions people reply according to their own definition of what left/centre/right is. So 2 people can reply the same thing implying two different things.

Re Compass conference. At the various seminars there also were people usually described as Blairites (like James Purnell)

8:01 pm, September 11, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

... and Shami Chakrabati and Polly Toynbee and a very brave Chris Bryant were at Progress.

8:10 pm, September 11, 2006

Anonymous politicalcorrespondent said...

Actually our story on the polls of Party members is here:


Though the YouGov poll is also an interesting piece I'm sure!

As you say, you have cherry picked the results you like. Though at least the right are organised enough to have blogs spinning polls, I've not yet seen any counter-spin from the left!

We seem to have slightly different impressions from that poll though - I'd say most party member polls suggest that about a third adhere to leftish positions, about a third are diehard Blairites, and about a third are roughly in the middle but inclined to be loyal all other things beind equal.

I think we would have to take issue with your interpretation on Trident though - there are clear majorities in both the party and the public for patching up Trident but not for replacing it with an expensive new system.

I have some other quibbles, but I'll leave it there for now!

8:12 pm, September 11, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'll amend the link.

8:19 pm, September 11, 2006


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