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.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Compass' poll

Compass don't seem to be making very much of the poll they got YouGov to do of Labour Party members.

This is not surprising when you read the detailed results: http://www.yougov.co.uk/archives/pdf/Compass-FEB09_results.pdf

Party members don't want post office part-privatisation, and are keen on a windfall tax, but aside from that their views will have contradicted Compass' soft left world view:

They overwhelmingly think Gordon Brown is doing a good job.

More of them think Lord Mandelson is going a good job than they do Harriet Harman!

Only 11% say they are "very left wing" (Hard Left?) and a further 36% "fairly left wing" (Soft Left?), whilst 50% are either "slightly left-of-centre" or to the right of that.

Younger members, women, middle class members and southerners are very slightly to the left of their older, male, more working class and more northern comrades.

A majority want to see the DWP's welfare-to-work reforms implemented.


Blogger John Buckingham said...

That's a little disingenuous Luke, since only 14% said they were centrists. And most activists placed themselves to the left of Brown (page 3), which rather suggests the party is not doing what they want it to do. 47% also thought capitalism should be 'radically reformed but not abandoned', and 80% thought we should raise taxes on those earning over £100k. So I think it's rather more of an endorsement of a soft left party than a 'moderate' one, in reality.

10:46 pm, March 08, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


I did the poll (I'm on the YouGov panel) and put myself down as "slightly left of centre" as I expect would most of the Cabinet and everyone I know on the right of the party. I've never met a Labour Party member who thought of themselves as "centrist" so was surprised to find 14% did in this poll.

Surely "radically reforming capitalism" is pretty much what we are doing right now - i.e. nationalising most of the banking sector?

10:51 pm, March 08, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke the nationalisation of the banking sector is hardly reforming capitalism, We didn't really have a choice according to the PM.

Capitalism needs reforming because the current strain needs growth in order to succeed. Without growth investors don't receive dividends demand cuts just to pay its share holders.

Obviously constant growth is not sustainable and for the majority of true Labour supports a modest profit is adequate and there is no need for world domination. This is what most people want from capitalism.

How we get off the current capitalist treadmill is a difficult one and our MPs should be looking at ways of doing this and not propping up the current system with tax payers money.

11:19 pm, March 08, 2009

Blogger Jim Jepps said...

John - there is actually a question on whether members thought Brown was doing a good job so there's no need to infer anything from whether people put themselves to his left or not.

77% of respondants thought he was performing well. It is in fact the further to the right you go the more disatisfied people became with the performance of government ministers.

I tend to agree with Rich that whilst unavoidable bank nationalisation may feel like radical reform of capitalism to those who would never have considered this move a year or two ago it's pretty think gruel when you consider the effect this has on the capitalist economic model as a whole.

12:13 am, March 09, 2009

Blogger John Buckingham said...

Jim, that's rubbish. Unlike the Greens, we understand that sometimes you don't get everything you want: so it's hardly inconsistent to want the party to be more left and yet feel loyalty towards your leader (particularly when you know a poll is going to be published in the press!). Loyalty and a desire for change can coexist - perhaps not in the Green Party, but in Labour.

Luke, fair points; I'm happy for centrists to be in the party, so it's no big deal for me, but let's not pretend this poll is an endorsement of your kind of party. The capitalism question was certainly open to interpretation, and the other options were a bit odd, so I think that should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

12:37 am, March 09, 2009

Blogger Jim Jepps said...

If Green leaders were suggesting privatising the post office I think you'd find members would not say they were performing well. But that has nothing to do with the discussion does it?

What's more interesting is that some Labour Party members who described themselves as on the left (even very left) thought privatisation of the post office was a good idea. If that's as far left as these people can imagine we can only assume they have a very distorted world view.

12:50 am, March 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely that fact that an overwhelming majority of Labour members thing that Brown is doing a good job is a blow to your ultra-Blairite friends. They were the ones actively trying to get rid of GB.

As far as I know, neither the Compass leadership nor MPs associated with Compass have ever called for Brown to step down. The Blairite crazies certainly have.

Stop pretending it’s the soft left that’s being disloyal when it so obviously the extreme right of the party that would ditch Brown at the slightest hint of trouble.

10:31 am, March 09, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

You will recall that I spent last summer vigorously attacking the people who were undermining the PM who you describe as "Blairite crazies".

Using the label "Blairite" to describe such people is not particularly useful given that Blair himself, and others such as Mandelson and Campbell, appear to be very supportive of Brown.

10:52 am, March 09, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Considering the very large number of people who have left the Labour party because they did not feel that New Labour represented their view, I am surprised as many as recorded expressed views which were critical of the government.

I don't consider the welfare reform measures as moderate - they are far to the right of anything that someone like Hattersley or Healey would have considered. That social democratic tradition is what I consider to be right-wing Labour, not the free market enthusiasts of new Labour. After all, there is no enthusiasm for nationalising the banks and no admittance that the actual problem is the market, globalisation, and lack of regulation.

New Labour is really far more like the Owenite wing of the SDP, very focused on free market solutions

12:14 pm, March 09, 2009

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

What John said about the Brown support, I would have voted "highly supportive" (even though I disagree with him vehemently)because as John has suggested this poll would likely be published in the press.

So if others voted the same way I would have based upon party loyality then you would had to discount this data.

It is like you have said yourself New Labour is over (re your comments over uber Blairites being similar to the japanese soldiers in the 1970s who did not believe the Emperor surrendered). The soft left are in the acendancy and this poll would seem to confirm that.

1:42 pm, March 09, 2009

Blogger Shamik Das said...

I agree with Ravi, but what use is a soft-Left Labour party in opposition?

Mark my words: we will be in opposition. Brown will never win a General Election.

3:42 pm, March 09, 2009

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

I think your point that you would describe yourself as 'slightly left of centre' shows how that sort of question is fairly meaningless.

I guess I would tick the 'very left-wing' box because I know that I would fit what they mean by that. But surely looking at these things in terms of policy is more instructive.

I am disappointed by the support for the Welfare Reform Bill however, as it is dreadful.

11:17 pm, March 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is slightly left wing..what is the criteria.

7:43 am, March 10, 2009


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