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, March 05, 2007

YouGov Poll of Labour Members

Not been online all day, but now that I am some of the detail in the YouGov poll (here) of party members and union levy payers is very reassuring.

The bits I particularly liked:

Only 6% of trade unionists 7% of members are "very left-wing". The vast majority are "fairly left-wing" or "slightly left-of-centre". As logic would suggest - some of them don't even vote Labour - the trade unionists are to the right of the individual party members.

The combined vote for McDonnell + Meacher is only 11% in the members' section and 23% amongst trade unionists.

61% of party members agree that "‘In order to go on winning general elections, Labour needs to govern Britain from near the centre, not to adopt more left-wing policies’"

53% agree that "‘John McDonnell is too left-wing to be Prime Minister’"

The combined vote for the 3 Deputy Leadership candidates normally labelled as Blairite is 65% amongst party members and 63% amongst trade unionists, for the 3 seen as soft left it is 34% and 39%.

I find it personally reassuring that my own instincts on the leadership are about where the membership are: I'm with the 69% who would vote Brown in a Brown/Miliband/Meacher/McDonnell contest and with the 69% who want a contest (though I would rather it was a straight Brown vs. the left fight).


Anonymous David said...

Interesting voting analysis of the deputy contest. How similar is it to the percentages Blair got in 1994?

McDonnell has many qualities, sadly one that he lacks is experience of Government office. That is probably a bigger hindrance to him becoming leader than his politics

7:40 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Well he has more experience of running anything than Blair did in '94. I think the main reason why the percentage on this poll is very low is that he still isn't a very familiar face or name. He's certainly becoming more so because of the rounds of meetings he's doing, and the support he's getting from various organisations - but of course the people who are in papers and on the news every day (and have been for years) are going to be better known. I suspect these percentages constitute quite a high percentage of those who have heard what John is saying. Therefore I'm quite confident that, in the context of a contest and John being on the ballot paper (especiallly if it's just him and Brown) the media blackout will be removed and he everyone will hear what he has to say, he'll get - at least - a very creditable vote.

(I've said elsewhere that I'm playing for a win, not just to be competitive; but being competitive is a good start)

7:47 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

"The bits I particularly liked:"

will it be followed by "the bits I didn't particularly liked" part?

8:09 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger tom watson said...

Put your ear to the ground though Luke. Can you hear it?

8:14 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous luke the red said...

Oh come on Luke, most people in the labour movement still haven't heard of McDonnell - or don't know much about his politics. His campaign has clearly established a solid base for someone who, until last July, was a completely unknown backbencher. Only in a contest where there was actually media coverage of his campaign would we be able to judge his popularity. To be honest, his percentage rating in this poll given this context are hardly something for the left to cry about.

David's analysis is absurd. Meacher has had ministerial experience - indeed, he's been a prominent figure in Labour politics for three decades; he's been minister under Wilson, Callaghan and Blair; he was one of the key leftwingers of the first half of the 80s - and yet has only 3% of party members supporting him. In other words, he doesn't have McDonnell's excuse. Go figure.

By the way Luke - you missed out Hazel Blear's ratings? Care to share them?

8:51 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Dave said...


You're not mentioning Ms Blears' appalling 5% showing, trailing even Cruddas? Surprise, surprise ...


9:42 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous Duncan said...

I have to say I found both the Blears and Cruddas positions faintly surprising (Blears more so than Cruddas who was unknown till relatively recently, and there is a lot of competition - but he gets quite a lot of press for an unheard-of backbencher). Hazel Blears is quite a big character in the party, is all over conferences and party publications, etc. I thought she'd be fairing rather better.

I'm quite pleased to see Hilary Benn doing well (I'm still to be persuaded between him and Cruddas to be honest).

10:01 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Hazel has been in the race for 2 weeks - some of the others for 2 years. I predict a dramatic change in the next set of numbers.

10:33 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

YouGov didn't ask me, though I'm on their panel.

Did Luke pre-vet the panellists?

Some very daft questions in there; this business as usual vs leftiness false dichotomy; steeped in personality over policy; no open questions at all:

In an ideal world who would like to stand for leader of the party?

When should Blair have gone?

Will you pay any attention to what MPs do?

Are you interested in listening to a debate or have you already made your mind up?

What exactly is "too left wing" about John McDonnell's platform?

What is JMcD's platform?

Should public services be publically owned?

Will the Iraq War be an issue for you?

Will Trident be an issue for you?

What are you three biggest issues?

Will you be trying to "bet" on the winner when you cast your vote?

Do you think that after 13 years waiting Gordon Brown deserves to be leader and PM whatever is going on in the world?

Not even:

Are you going to vote?
Did you vote in the last leadership election?
Did you vote in the last NEC election?
Are you actually paid up?

Clearly the results in that one indicate a much more left/centre left bias in the real membership than in the YouGov polling.

The Blears result is absolutely terrible. The fact they think it's John not Jon Cruddas is a terrible judgement on YouGov.

10:39 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

When did You Gov do this shoddy thing?

10:41 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

I completely agree Chris, it's a rather odd poll.

10:45 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous luke the red said...

Oh come off it, Luke. Everyone in the party and trade union movement knows EXACTLY who Hazel Blears is. She's been one of the most high-profile members of the current Blair Government for about a year now. She's been all over the media for ages. And we all know she's been campaigning unofficially for months.

Face it - her result is an absolute HUMILIATION, she's detested by the party and trade union movement and regarded as a braindead Blairite drone. She will never get anywhere near the deputy leadership and you know it.

10:46 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

They didn't ask me either & I'm on their panel so not guilty!

Fieldwork was 1-4 March.

Turnout in the NEC elections was about 15%. Many times that % of members will vote in this election.

My guess is the hard left will get about the same 15,000 votes they got for the NEC, and Brown will get about 85,000 if turnout is just over 50% amongst members.

10:48 pm, March 05, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Personalised abuse like calling Hazel "detested by the party and trade union movement and regarded as a braindead Blairite drone" will persuade a lot of people they should back her.

A lot of mainstream Labour members work out who to vote in internal party elections by listening to the insults from the ultra left and doing the opposite.

By "braindead Blairite drone" I presume you mean a) loyal and b) supporter of the policies that won the last 3 elections. Count me in as one of those too. And proud of it.

10:59 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous Duncan said...

My guess is that John's appeal will be a lot broader than the 'hard left', happily, and that the turnout will be a little lower than you're predicting, sadly (40% of our on-paper membership would be a pretty good return). And of course then there's the union vote to consider. I think the Broad Left movements will do an efficient job as usual. :o)

11:17 pm, March 05, 2007

Anonymous jdc said...

I was polled by YouGov on this one, I think it was about a week ago. I was one of the Benn voters, though I'm still persuadeable in a number of directions. Probably not Hazel Blears, though she's my top choice for Home Secretary.

There were too many binary choices in that poll, I think. Where was, for instance, "we need to move to the left on some policies and to the right on others"? Chris - there was a 'when should Blair go' question. It was something like 20% now, 40% May, 30% by September, 10% never.

9:17 am, March 06, 2007

Anonymous Tim F said...


Do you take YouGov polls seriously? A preselected section of a self-selected panel of people who have internet access - I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them. I do find it interesting what issues they poll though, although I'd like more info about who commissions them.


12:57 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous TB-GB said...

Why dont they invite Bryan Gould back to contest the election? Apparently he is now retired from his job as Vice Chancellor

2:52 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous Ian G said...

oI would strongly suspect that people on the right of the party are much more likley to be YouGov panalists than people on the left.

Did the poll correct for (or quantify) any age/gender/geographical/political bias of the sample?

If not, it really is rather pointless.

3:54 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous lenajeger'sghost said...

My MP calls Hazel Blears "Motormouth"and says she has absolutely no chance. Just thought I'd share that with you!

Also, did anyone see the truly cringe-making pic of Michael Meacher in yesterdsay's Indy. Flanked by two bikini-ed lovelies. Absolutely priceless. I'm not into conspiracy theories.Let's just say the NUJ is a hotbed of support for John McDonnell.......

4:00 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just say the NUJ is a hotbed of support for John McDonnell.......

Any journalist backing McDonnell should be sacked. Such people show contempt for the British public bring shame on their profession.

5:10 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Anonymous... No, I can't think of anything to say. What's the point?

6:11 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous action-without-theory said...

Please link to new blog Action without theory.
I will link to you
Readers can go there now and join the debate on the best socialist novel, the continuing discussion on how much theory is really necessary, and find out about events in Accrington and Reading.

6:29 pm, March 06, 2007

Anonymous Action-without-theory said...

Read about Alan "16 per cent support" Johnson and the union buster

2:41 am, March 07, 2007

Anonymous NUJ member said...

Will pass that one on to our General Secretary Jeremy Dear, anonymous. Sure he will be very impressed with your analysis (and sense of humour failure)My God, left-leaning journalists! Not everyone is in Gordon's pocket, you know.

7:56 am, March 07, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Luke :

Was the turnout in the NEC election really only 15%? Or is the 200,000 figure a gross exaggeration as reported elsewhere (nearer one-third of this, and let's face it an average of 300+ paid up per constituency - without discounting the NI and uber Tory ones - would be very high).

Did the CLGA candidates really only get 15,000 votes, or is that not quite true spin? And are you really saying that CLGA is "hard left"; even if it may be a broad enough church to include all kinds of orgs who think yes-women and yes-men are not the best reps for a body already stacked for the govt which is supposed to bring accountability it is not exclusively hard left.

Peter's encounter group Save The Labour Party is in it for goodness sake. Is Peter Luke's definition of a Trot these days?

Yes there was a when should Blair go question. But not the when should Blair have gone question which I suggested. Different!

As Duncan says McDonnell has far more experience of running things than Blair ever had ... as he was the Chancellor for London and Ken's left-hand man for eons.

The Action Without Theory Tendancy (TAWTT) have a theory I reckon. But they should check it in and try another, 'cos it's silly.

12:07 pm, March 07, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is Gordo going to get 85,000 votes if there are only 60,000 paid up members as per some reports?

12:09 pm, March 07, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


the NEC turnout was a little higher than I realised when I checked the figures: 20.3%

Full results:
Ann Black 19491 ELECTED (GRA)
Christine Shawcroft 17974 ELECTED (GRA)
Pete Willsman 15759 ELECTED (GRA)
Walter Wolfgang 14129 ELECTED (GRA)
Peter Wheeler 13961 ELECTED (LF)
Ellie Reeves 13850 ELECTED (LF)
Mohammed Azam 13435 (GRA)
Lorna Fitzsimons 13093 (LF)
Bill Thomas 12830 (LF)
Gaye Johnston 12498 (GRA)
Helen Jackson 11443 (IND)
Louise Baldock 11118 (IND)
Azhar Ali 10493 (LF)
Philomena Muggins 7982 (LF)
Naz Sarkar 7303 (IND)
Mehboob Khan 5567 (IND)

Ballot papers distributed 178889
Ballot papers received 36316
Spoiled ballot papers 400

I would describe the CLGA as largely hard left with a small element of soft left fellow-travellers (e.g. Ann Black).

Peter was a colleague of mine in Hackney North for nearly a decade. His politics moved leftwards during that time but by the end he was usually voting with the hard left on the GC (i.e. in Hackney Briefing and Socialist Action) so I assumed that was his own orientation.

I certainly wouldn't describe him as a "Trot" - he isn't a Trotskyist (though I think he was as a student in the 1970s) - I try to be careful not to misuse the word Trot as a general term for the Hard Left. For instance of the CLGA NEC members Black is soft left, Wolfgang and Willsman conventional Bennite hard left, Shawcroft might be a Trot as there are some in Briefing, which she is involved in - I'm genuinely not sure.

2:39 pm, March 07, 2007


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