If Labour splits…

Over on the YouGov website I’ve written about an experiment we did looking at how the votes might fall in the event that the Labour party did split (the tabs are here). As I say in the article, this needs a thousand caveats – in what proportions has Labour split? Which party is the main opposition with all the publicity that implies? Who is the leader of the anti-Corbyn Labour party, and what sort of policies are they following? How did the split happen? Respondents don’t know, so this can only be a straw in the wind.

The important things to take away are these:

One – there is a sizeable chunk of the Labour vote who are brand loyalists, in the event of a split they would keep on voting for Labour, regardless of whether the left has split away or the right has split away. Just as the faction that is left controlling the Labour party will get the party’s property and assets, they’ll also get that base loyalist vote. Looking at this poll, it seems to be about 28% of the current Labour vote (so about 8% of the national vote)

Two – a lot of Labour voters would go with the left if the Corbyn was somehow ousted and his supporters left. A smaller group of current Labour voters would go with the right if they left, but they’d pick up more support from don’t knows, current Lib Dems and so on. A Labour splinter group of either side would start with around-about 13-14% (again, there are a thousand caveats to this, so don’t take that as set in stone).

Three – the sum total of the support which the two rival Labour parties would be slightly more than the current Labour party (between them they’d get about 34%, compared to Labour’s current polling figures that are around or just under 30%). Under a proportional voting system this might be a good thing. Under First Past the Post this would likely be disastrous for them, splitting the Labour vote and allowing the Conservatives (or UKIP, or whoever) to gain more seats from them. Exactly how bad it would be we cannot tell without knowing how their votes would be distributed geographically, whether individual Labour MPs would be able to retain the Labour vote in their own constituencies. It is likely to be pretty nasty though.

Finally, given the purpose of the exercise was to see what proportion of Labour voters would stick with the “Labour brand” in the event of a party split, we were faced with the problem of what to call the splitters in each scenario. We wouldn’t call them the “anti-Corbyn Labour party” or “Corbyn Labour party” or whatever as the whole point is that they would NOT be the Labour party, we had to give them a new made-up name. But what? In the end we tried it out with various different names to try and cancel out any effect from choosing a compelling or duff name – “Momentum”, “People’s Party”, “Moderates”, “Progress”, “Radicals”, “Social Democrats” – none of the names seemed to make much difference, whatever we called it, the splitters got around 13-15%.


165 Responses to “If Labour splits…”

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  1. @ LizH

    To be a little bit fairer, Smith copies his living wage figures from the whatever is the name commission on this. But it does not look good for him.

    However, more importantly, to stay with the topic, yesterday Smith explicit verbis said that the reelection of Corbyn would lead to a split.

  2. @LizH

    Yes, that tweet does seem to reveal a bit of the comedy. Who knows, maybe Owen fans will like it though…

  3. LIZH

    Thanks for the Channel 4 link. Interesting reading in the comments, which seem to mirror the 2 sides of Lab here. The comments on the YouGov article AW links to are much the same.

    As someone with no dog in this fight, I do note that particularly amongst the JC supporters there seems to be increasing distrust in both the print & broadcast media, somewhat mirroring what happened [and is very much ongoing] in the 2014 Scottish referendum.

    Then, the media support of the no campaign certainly worked. In Lab’s case though, it would appear that the JC supporters have already stopped believing in the mainstream media, ensuring a difficult uphill battle for OS, more or less irrespective of what he offers in the way of policies.

    I suspect that distrust of the both campaigns in Scotland made all the difference and was partly a result of the appalling campaigns on both sides of the EU referendum. In any event, those campaigns may also have “inoculated” some of the Lab supporters in their distrust of the media.

    Polling in each of the 4 nations of the UK on media print & broadcast trust would be very interesting.

    Of course, it’s also pretty unlikely! Who would pay for it?

  4. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/owen-smith-pledges-825-living-8548878 , the penny has dropped and Owen Smith has this afternoon decided to up the living wage to over £10 so he can out do Corbyn.

    Owen Smith makes one gaffe after another. That must be the new requirement of what makes a great leader.

  5. I remember the excitement of the SDP, actually i was part of it as i was a liberal at the time. I don’t think a blairite split off group will ignite the same excitement and i can’t really see an alliance with the most democratic party(lib dems) in British politics working.

    Actually are the SNP as democratic as the libdems or more so, i know that the SNP is miles more democratic than labour?

  6. BZ

    I stopped reading newspapers regularly and watching TV years ago, the dishonesty and spinning was to much for me.

  7. @BARBAZENZERO
    ” I do note that particularly amongst the JC supporters there seems to be increasing distrust in both the print & broadcast media”

    That’s certainly true for me and I am sure for others too hence we have the #WeAreHisMedia. There is also a huge distrust of anything coming from the other side of Labour so I can never envisage the two sides uniting.

  8. @LizH

    Damascene conversion or not (and I thought the point about these is that they are deep and sincere), actually it’s Eoin who’s not paying attention to the detail.

    Roughly speaking, Smith is saying £8.25 now (obviously hypothetical) for everyone over 18, compared to the current £7.20, which applies only to over 25s. In 2020, Smith is saying the figure would rise to “well over £10”, compared to the Tory promise of £9, again triggered at age 18, rather than 25.

    This is all pretty consistent with Smith’s approach so far of trying to neutralise policy differences and criticism from the left by offering Corbynism with more detail. Obviously it leaves potential charges of insincerity and plagiarism, but my guess is that he thinks these are the lesser of two evils if he’s trying to peel away some of Corbyn’s support.

  9. @Laszlo

    Hilarious Owen is meant to be the unity candidate and he is threatening a split if Corbyn is reelected.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/every-likelihood-labour-will-split-if-jeremy-corbyn-wins-owen-smith-tells-huffington-post_uk_57a1a457e4b07cb01dd0cc3b

  10. MUDDY

    @”actually it’s Eoin who’s not paying attention to the detail.”

    It was never his strong point.

    http://annaraccoon.com/2013/01/13/the-many-apologies-of-dr-eoin-clarke-phd-plnkr-bf/

  11. @Colin

    Indeed. He certainly has form in this respect. (Not least on UKPR if I remember correctly.)

    Though I have to acknowledge in this case, after a bit more digging since my post, that Smith’s original Facebook announcement this morning did seem ambiguous on figures now vs his promise for 2020. Just vaguely presented, or hastily corrected? Who knows?

  12. LIZH
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/owen-smith-pledges-825-living-8548878 , the penny has dropped and Owen Smith has this afternoon decided to up the living wage to over £10 so he can out do Corbyn.
    _________

    I just worked out my own wage and dividing my monthly salary by 4 into a weekly salary divided by 36 hours I would be on £22 per hour. ol Corby and Smith need to keep out bidding each other if they want to earn my vote. ;-)

  13. CAMBRIDGERACHEL & LIZH

    Are there any fact checker blogs keeping an eye on the English media? If not, it’s about time somebody started one.

    A number of them in Scotland were prominent in the run up the the vote in 2014, but some are still posting regularly.

    One of them has a good case in point today, regarding police numbers in Scotland. The comments are often OTT but the text is usually pretty accurate. See here for a good example of how the Scottish media do their utmost to avoid saying anything favourable re the Scottish Government.

  14. @ALLAN CHRISTIE

    Corbyn & Smith have no chance with you. Aren’t you a Theresa fan?

  15. I know that they’re not comparable to normal VI figures, but the Scottish subsample is pretty stunning- the SNP on about 57%, the Tories on 22%, and Labour on 12%. Especially because I would have thought that not weighting by likelihood to vote would tend to inflate the Labour score. (Maybe I’m wrong on that?)

  16. @BARBAZENZERO
    “Are there any fact checker blogs keeping an eye on the English media? If not, it’s about time somebody started one.”

    My husband donated some money to one around the time of the last GE but I don’t know if they are still going. To be honest I don’t know if it is worth the trouble for the ordinary voter because most people don’t believe the MSM anyway.

  17. Can I go a day without hearing about the Good Doctor?

  18. @MRNAMELESS
    He is doing a sterling job so leave him alone.

  19. Good doctor?

  20. LIZH
    @ALLAN CHRISTIE
    Corbyn & Smith have no chance with you. Aren’t you a Theresa fan?
    ________

    To be honest I’m sort of in limbo at the moment. I like some of what the Tories have to say, a bit of UKIP and a wee bit of what ol Corby has to say although if I’m being honest my X in 2020 looks to be heading for the Tories.

    However Parliament does need a leader such as ol Corby because after all Parliament is there to represent (everyone).

  21. @ALLAN CHRISTIE

    Go on do it for democracy, vote for Corbyn.

  22. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    Dr. Eoin

  23. So C4 think Smith has laid out more detail and added 12 specific pledges that Corbyn has not yet clearly backed. This was also before todays big announcement on pension tax relief, which is really, really significant. [Believe me folks – it really is – without this, the debate about how you pay for these promises is very difficult. Smith has nailed a huge source of funds to distribute, but wants to do it in a brilliant way that makes 80% of workers better off. It’s such a good idea the Tories will do it first, without a doubt].

    Overall, it looks like Smith is clearly ahead on policies. The Corbynistas will hate this, and find plenty of excuses to explain why this isn’t real, or ethically pure enough, but if Smith can craft these into a coherent whole, there is a package to try and sell to the electorate, which is something Labour hasn’t had for a while.

  24. The simple truth is Labour are finished – those who voted Conservative,Liberal and UKIP last year are not going to vote for a party with Corbyn at the helm – further unless Labour can pull a rabbit out of the hat and recover in Scotland which to me is impossible as the SNP are the centre left party now and popular – the boundary changes and the impact of UKIP on certain Labour areas mean that they will only be a rump – even if there is a new centre left party this will also split votes between new and old Labour.
    I listened to Corbyn at one of his rally’s on the web and it was clear how out of touch he is with the man in the street – this is a man who has never grafted in his life but spent the past 35 years with a sit down job earning a very comfortable wage giving credence to obscure causes – I was astonished that he voted against the AIA.

  25. Regarding a split – it depends on whether the new fresh party becomes The Official Opposition.

    Let’s say they simply call themselves “The Democrats”, to indicate they are centrists/sister party to the US Dems, and their leader is the one facing Mrs May every Wednesday – that is a huge amount kudos and free publicity if they do the job well.

    If you look back in history, the thing that gave Labour a filip in the first place was the 1922 election, where they became the Official Opposition, and thereby had a theatre (PMQs) to make their case for the first time. In the 1918 coupon election, Labour were in fourth place – the Lloyd George Liberals were second and the De Valera Sinn Fein were third. Sinn Fein then disappeared because Ireland declared independence, and the coupon thing had weakened the Liberals because they voluntarily stepped back from opposing the Conservatives, opening up a space for Lab.

    The failure of the SDP in the early eighties is down to them not pulling enough Lab MPs to become the official opposition. If the new party does that this time, and their leader performs well in that role for the next four years, they have a real chance. Publicity is everything, and being the Official Opposition gives you a massive stage on which to perform.

  26. A Labour split can only make sense if the moderate group forges an alliance with the Lib-Dems. There is no other way it can work under FPTP.

  27. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    “I remember the excitement of the SDP, actually i was part of it as i was a liberal at the time. I don’t think a blairite split off group will ignite the same excitement and i can’t really see an alliance with the most democratic party(lib dems) in British politics working.”

    What do you mean by ‘democratic’?

  28. By coincidence I had dinner last night with one of the Labour MPs who broke away to form the SDP. I asked him if it was a mistake. He said it was not, because you simply could not stand on a platform you couldn’t believe in. He also said that the SDP split changed the Labour party for the better. He said it took him a lot of thought to decide whether to leave Labour, as he knew he would lose his seat.

  29. “I was astonished that he voted against the AIA.”

    He appears to be politically close to Sinn Féin, not the SDLP (which is the Labour party’s sister party).

    The AIA was the SDLP’s thing, but was opposed by Sinn Féin.

  30. “He said it was not, because you simply could not stand on a platform you couldn’t believe in.”

    ——–

    Did you tell him that it’s first past the post, so in effect he was standing for splitting the vote and hence standing in effect to let Tories in?

    Voters have to hold their nose and vote for summat they don’t believe in, to stop summat worse getting in. Because it’s FPTP.

    My housemate urged us to vote SDP at Uni. I didn’t vote, of course. He’s a Labour MP now. Even Boris switched to SDP for a while. It’s all very flexible…

  31. I was an SDP supporter for a few months in 1987, around the time of the Greenwich by-election, but I’d relapsed back to voting for Thatch by June, and by September I was a member of the Tory party again.

  32. Regarding a split – it depends on whether the new fresh party becomes The Official Opposition.

    Let’s say they simply call themselves “The Democrats”, to indicate they are centrists/sister party to the US Dems, and their leader is the one facing Mrs May every Wednesday – that is a huge amount of free publicity for the next four years, if they do the job well.

    If you look back in history, the thing that gave Labour a boost in the first place was the 1922 election, where they became the Official Opposition, and thereby had a theatre to make their case for the first time. In the 1918 coupon election, Labour were in fourth place.

    The SDP’s mistake in the early eighties is down to them not pulling enough Lab MPs to become the official opposition.

  33. Cambridge Rachel

    “Actually are the SNP as democratic as the libdems or more so”

    Or less so?

    In structure, the SNP has always been based on OMOV, and branches are the core of the organization. If you are really keen to find out then the Constitution of the party is here

    http://104.46.54.198/sites/default/files/assets/documents/constitutionofthescottishnationalparty.pdf

    As in any organisation, the National Executive’s powers to direct, interpret, organise, ensure etc, mean that they can act as they see fit – in between Annual Conferences and National Council which is the interim governing body (representing branches etc) and held at least twice a year) which can overrule the Executive.

    Leader and Deputy Leader are elected annually (if there is a vacancy or a challenger to the incumbent), whether they are in Government or not.

    Whether that is better, worse, or similar to the Lib-Dems, in terms of party democracy, I have no idea.

  34. David Carrod:
    At 2.41 pm who perfectly and succinctly explained the fundamental asymmetry in the EU referendum campaign that enabled Leave to win!

    Very perspicacious of you!

  35. @OldNat

    The SNP got round the whole leadership malarkey by only nominating Ms Sturgeon when Salmond stepped down. Any challengers were stopped simply by being unable to get nominated. She was then “crowned” and I understand that any SNP person who criticises the Dear Leader is expelled for disloyalty!

  36. I understand that any SNP person who criticises the Dear Leader is expelled for disloyalty

    I think the no-public-criticism rule is part of the standing orders for MPs and MSPs, not a control on dissent from ordinary party members.

  37. @ Alec

    I think one thing you are missing in your comments about Owen Smith policy is whether all these things are acceptable to the Labour right (perhaps 50 MPs) and whether an Owen Smith leadership actually resolves the split with this so called “unity candidate”. They were already starting up the briefings and propaganda when Angela Eagle was still in the frame and she’s since been criticising Smith in public for his heels comment.

    I have this feeling that electing Smith would just put wind in the sails of that section of the Labour Party and encourage them to fight further battles, opposing policy and briefing against the new leader all over again as they did to some extent with Miliband.

    So to some extent (answering Colin’s question) for many members this leadership vote is less about specific policy or candidate than it is about cementing the direction of the party. To be honest there’s no evidence the party would be any more united under Smith or that those policies don’t get severely watered down.

  38. @”Go on do it for democracy, vote for Corbyn.”

    Ah-the lost art of Paradox .

  39. SHEVII

    You have expressed the factors about Smith’s candidacy which have been puzzling me.

    Are these policies of his acceptable to people like Ummuna , Jarvis, Cooper..?………

    I struggle to see how Smith in his current form is the answer to the PLP’s Corbyn problem.

    Of course I recognise that incompetence is one of those problems-and no doubt Smith presents a solution to the Leadership issues.
    But surely Policy Platform is important too. ?

  40. I really don’t understand why it is so complicated (about the LP) – not about the current thing, but in general. Here it is black and white.

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/54068-2/

  41. @ Colin

    Smith may win, who knows.

    But he has a long history, and while the media (well some of it) is helpful to him, Michael Crick retweeted an article on him that exists only as saved memory, and it is not a vote winner in the LP right now.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Owen's+appointment+would+make+Nye+Cry.-a0145782296

    Putting together his policies is not particularly great in sum, but nobody really cares, because it is not about policies. However, errors he made inadvertently do not adorn him with the glory of leadership skills. No doubt that all these are and will be used in the remaining 1.5 months.

    There is a conspiracy theory (I think it is that) in the LP, that once he is elected, he would stand down and a proper Blairite would come forward. Labour can’t put together a coherent narrative even in this.

  42. Laszlo

    I doubt it.

    I wasn’t musing over his appeal to Members-all that I hear & read suggests that it will not change their minds.

    I was pondering the conundrum SHEVII raises-Smith’s appeal to the anti-Corbyn PLP.

    Anyway-its probably all academic.

    Interesting link to that LSE Research.

  43. @Colin

    Are these policies of his acceptable to people like Ummuna , Jarvis, Cooper..?…

    Almost certainly not, but if Smith wins they will bide their time and not rock the boat too much pre-2020. What’s at stake for them at the moment is not so much the current policy platform but the party’s organisational and policy-making machinery – which they fear will be closed to non-believers if Corbyn and allies get the chance to make the organisational changes they want.

    The 2020 election has already been written off, but they figure that if the “broad church” character of the party is maintained, the policy pendulum will swing back after a bad defeat; and in the meantime, Smith might mitigate some of the likely losses.

  44. Funny this because it’s exactly what I wrote here a few days ago!

    The best outcome would be if no one kept the ‘Labour’ name and those who vote “because me granddad did” will be forced to exercise a modicum of thought as to whom they wish to exercise their vote in favour of.

    If I remember my history correctly Labour was far to the left through most of its history save for the Blair years, and the recent liberal centerists would perhaps be more at home in the Liberal party – but would they be able to stomach that?

  45. @BOBINNORFOLK

    “this is a man who has never grafted in his life but spent the past 35 years with a sit down job earning a very comfortable wage giving credence to obscure causes – I was astonished that he voted against the AIA.”

    Quite right. I envy the beardie’s pension when he finally retires [sigh].

  46. Thoughtful

    Be nice if the same time happened with the tories

  47. Laszlo

    “in the remaining 1.5 months.”

    Not that I am much interested in the Olympics, but at least it might limit the endless discussion of this particular “obscure cause” [1] during some of that time.

    Its getting to the stage when even cricket might seem more interesting than ELab politics. :-)

    [1] copyright BobInNorfolk

  48. OLDNAT
    even cricket might seem more interesting than ELab

    Not that bad, surely! Recall your 19th Aug 2009 post [#71] on NR’s Devolution dilemma:

    I then went to the ECB site to discover it seems to be a contracted version of shinty with only 2 sticks, and remarkably small goals!

  49. Barbazenzero

    I’m impressed by your memory – and then your ability to track down where you saw it!

    Still, I see Scot Andy Murray is to carry the UK flag for Team GB.

    What a confused place is “These Islands”. :-)

  50. If the difference between the two sides of the Labour is ideological, does this identify where the ideology differs?

    Here is the link:http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~alexss/thatcherism.pdf

    I wonder if Owen Smith is in Corbyn’s camp

    ” CONCLUSIONS
    There can be no doubt that Thatcherism had a major impact on the health and well-being of the British population. Although overall population health continued to improve by many measures (e.g., in terms of mean mortality rates and infant mortality), it improved more slowly than in comparable countries (65). Meanwhile,
    within-country health inequalities increased, in terms of both class and geography. Post-industrial areas, notably in Scotland, fared particularly badly (65).

    The aggressive promotion of free-market policies under Thatcher was accompanied by the growing influence of business interests; a commitment to reduce the size of the welfare state; acceptance of widespread, unequally distributed unemployment; and implementation of a range of authoritarian social policies. All of
    this suggests Thatcherism contributed to ensuring Britain became a less healthy and more unequal place than it might otherwise have been. Thatcher’s neoliberal project was subsequently strengthened and more firmly embedded by her successors
    in Conservative (Major) and Labor (Blair and Brown) governments. Its legacy is especially visible in the policies currently being pursued by the post-2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat United Kingdom coalition government (26).

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