Today’s Times has some fresh polling of Labour party members. It was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday this week in the wake of the anti-Semitism row, though is also the first opportunity we’ve seen since the general election to take the general political temperature among Labour party members.

On that second point, the first thing to notice is the major shift in the level of support Jeremy Corbyn has among Labour party members. Two years ago this was still a party divided on the leadership and unsure of his future. Now they are solidly behind him. 80% of Labour members think Corbyn is doing well as leader, just 19% badly. 74% of Labour members think that Jeremy Corbyn should lead the party into the next general, and 64% of members think it is likely that Jeremy Corbyn will become Prime Minister in the future.

This is a complete transformation of attitudes since 2016 – back then, Labour members were split on Corbyn’s performance, didn’t think he could ever win, most didn’t want him to fight the next election. Now, following Corbyn’s victory against Owen Smith and the party’s revivial at the election, Corbyn’s support in the party looks absolutely solid.

Looking briefly at two of the other recent decisions Jeremy Corbyn has made, his members also back him over both his handling of the Salisbury poisonings and his sacking of Owen Smith. 69% think that Corbyn has responded well to the poisonings, and by 50% to 37% they think sacking Smith was the right decision.

Now, moving on to the anti-semitism row that Labour have found themselves in.

19% of Labour members think that anti-semitism in the party is a serious and genuine problem that needs addressing. A further 47% of Labour members agree that there is a serious and genuine problem, but think that is has been exaggerated for political reasons. Finally, 30% think that there is not a serious problem of anti-semitism at all. Broadly speaking, two-thirds of members think there is a problem (though many of those think it is being exaggerated for political effect), just under a third think there is not.

In terms of Jeremy Corbyn’s own handling of the row, most of his members think he has dealt with it well. 61% say he has responded very or fairly well, 33% think he has responded fairly or very badly. It’s less good than his approval overall (implying there are some Labour members who approve of Corbyn’s leadership in general, but think he’s dropped the ball here) but there is still clear majority approval.

Finally, the poll asked whether Labour party members wanted to see Ken Livingstone readmitted to the party or not. 33% wanted to see him return, 41% did not.

I’ll put a link up to the full tabs when they are released.


Ian Warren of Electiondata had published a new YouGov poll of Labour party members. Overall, it looks as if Jeremy Corbyn’s suppport among the Labour membership is down a bit since last year… but that right now he’d likely be re-elected again. To some degree a fall in support among existing members has probably been mitigated by the gradual churn in membership as pre-Corbyn membership falls and newer, more pro-Corbyn members join. Back in August 2016, 53% of paid up Labour members thought Jeremy Corbyn was doing well, 45% badly. The latest figures are 51% well, 47% badly. The figures are not directly comparable because of changing membership (a substantial proportion of members joined post EU referendum and they were some of the most pro-Corbyn members). Nevertheless, the net effect is that Corbyn’s support really hasn’t fallen much.

If we go back and look at Corbyn’s historical ratings among party members the big drop appears to be at the time of the EU referendum and the attempted coup, but since then things have steadied. In Nov 2015 66% of Labour members thought Corbyn was doing well, by May 2016 that had risen to 72%. Straight after the EU referendum and Hilary Benn’s sacking it it fell to 51%, in July 2016 it stood at 55%, by August 2016 it stood at 53%, today it is back to 51%. Some of those ups and downs are because the polls were seeking to measure those Labour members entitled to take part in the election and there were back and forths about cut-off dates, but you can see the broad trend – a sharp fall, then a pretty steady position.

Neither has there been much change in attitudes towards Corbyn’s future. Opinion has moved a little against Corbyn fighting the general election and in favour of an organised transition. 44% of Labour members now think Corbyn should contest the general election (down from 47% last August, but up from 41% in June 2016), 14% think he should stand down at some time before the election (up from 6% in August). The proportion of members backing his immediate ousting has actually fallen, now just 36% (from 39% in August 2016 and 44% in June 2016)

If there was an election now, 52% of Labour members say they would definitely or probably vote for Corbyn in a fresh leadership election, 46% said they would probably or definitely not. To put this in context, when YouGov asked the same question in June 2016 50% of Labour members said they would probably or definitely vote for Jeremy Corbyn, 47% said they would probably vote against him.

In the event the leadership election that followed was not a close thing. By July 57% of Labour members were saying they’d probably vote Corbyn (40% probably would not) and Corbyn’s lead among full party members ended up being 18 percentage points. Of course, it may be that the 2016 leadership election could have panned out differently with a different anti-Corbyn candidate or a different strategy, but comparing these figures to the polls before last year’s leadership election does not suggest there has been any sea-change in Labour members’ support for Jeremy Corbyn.

So what, if anything, would change the mind of Labour members? Ian’s poll asked if Corbyn should stand down in various circumstances. A substantial majority (68%) of Labour members said he should go if Labour lose the general election. A majority (55%) also said he should go if he loses the support of Trade Union leaders, and 50% said he should go if he loses the support of the shadow cabinet.

The problem is these are theoretical questions. In practice people tend to see events through the prism of their existing support, so Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters will tend to explain away negative events and blame then on other people (that’s not intended as a comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in particular, but on human nature in general. It happens in all other political parties too). There’s a lovely example of this in Ian’s poll – asked who or what was most responsible for losing the Copeland by-election, 85% of those Labour members who voted for Owen Smith said Jeremy Corbyn. Very few Labour voters who voted for Jeremy Corbyn last year put any blame on him though – among Corbyn’s 2016 voters the main causes of the Copeland defeat were seen as the media (46%) and Tony Blair’s speech (35%). Only 14% blamed Jeremy Corbyn. Don’t imagine that all those hundreds of thousands of members who have supported Jeremy Corbyn, who have been enthused by him and brought into the party by him will easily be disuaded from supporting him.


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ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian came out today, topline voting intention figures are CON 42%(nc), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 12%(-1), GRN 4%(-1). There is no significant change since a fortnight ago and the Conservatives retain a formidable lead.

The poll also asked about expectations of Brexit. People tend to think it will have a negative impact on the economy (by 43% to 38%) and on their own personal finances (34% to 12%), but on the overall way of life in Britain they are slightly more positive (41% expect a positive impact, 36% a negative one). All these answers are, as you would expect, strongly correlated with referendum vote – very few Remainers expect anything good to come of Brexit, very few Leavers expect any negative consequences. Full tabs are here.

For those who’ve missed it, I also have a long piece over on YouGov’s website about the Brexit problem facing Labour and how to respond to it. Labour were already a party whose electoral coalition was under strain, with sharp divides between their more liberal, metropolitian middle-class supporters and their more socially conservative traditional working class support. Brexit splits the party right down that existing fault line and their choice on whether to robustly oppose or accept Brexit will upset one side or another of the Labour family.

More of Labour’s supporters backed Remain than Leave and a substantial minority of Labour voters would be delighted were the party to oppose Brexit. However, such a policy would also drive away a substantial chunk of their support. 20% of people who voted Labour in 2015 say they would be “angry” if Labour opposed Brexit. In contrast, if Labour accept Brexit but campaign for a close relationship with the EU once we leave then while it would delight fewer voters, it would also anger far fewer voters (only 7% of Labour’s 2015 vote would be angry). If Labour’s aim is to keep their electoral coalition together, then a “soft Brexit” would be acceptable to a much wider segment of their support.

Of course it’s more complicated than that. This is only how voters would react right now. Labour may want to gamble on public opinion turning against Brexit in the future and get ahead of the curve. Alternatively, they may think Brexit is such an important issue that Labour should do what they think right and damn the electoral consequences. That’s a matter for the party itself to decide, but in terms of current public opinion I think Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit may actually be the one most likely to keep Labour together. Full article is here.


A final post on boundary changes (at least until the Scottish proposals next month). This comes from a discussion I had with Mark Pack. Normally the thing we look at with boundary changes is what the party-partisan effect is, how the new boundaries would change the sort of swing that Labour need to win a general election. However, currently Labour are a very, very long way from the sort of polling lead they’d need to win a majority, so a small change in that figure really doesn’t make a lot of difference. More interesting in the current political climate is the effect it would have on Labour internal battle and any potential deselections.

The rules for how Labour will deal with re-selections after boundary changes are yet to be confirmed, so these are based on the rules set out for 2011 in the Labour rule book, on the assumption that Labour’s NEC will use similar rules this time round. A Labour MP has a right to seek selection in any seat that contains 40% or more of the electors in their existing seat. If an MP’s seat is divided up so much that no single seat contains 40% of their old electors then they’ll have the right to seek nomination in a seat with less than 40% of their old voters. If they are the only sitting MP to seek selection in a seat, they are nominated through the normal trigger ballot process. If more than one sitting MP seeks the nomination in a new seat there is a members ballot to pick between them.

Applying those rules to the provisional boundaries we can see where there may be contests under those rules. Note that this list is exhaustive, it contains every case where Labour MPs could compete against each other under the selection rules… but in some cases it will be easily avoided through either agreement (there are enough seats to go round) or retirement (an MP will be well over 70 come the general election and possibly considering retirement anyway). Of the 231 Labour members of Parliament in England & Wales, 142 of them should not face any re-selection difficulties connected to boundary changes – they may well see changes to their seat, but there is a single notionally Labour seat to which they have the sole right to seek selection. What about the other 89?

Avoidable Challenges

There are six places where more than one MP would have a right to seek selection for a seat, but where there are enough Labour seats to go round, so if MPs co-operate and agree between themselves who will stand where, no head-to-head challenge is necessary and no one is left empty handed. These are:
Alfreton and Clay Cross. Nastasha Engel and Dennis Skinner both have the right to seek selection here, but Skinner also has the right to seek selection in Bolsover, so a challenge seems unlikely.
East London. Mike Gapes’ seat is sliced up into tiny pieces, and if the NEC follow past practice he should have the right to seek selection in any of the successor seats. He is the only sitting MP with a right to seek selection in the new, ultra-safe, Forest Gate & Loxford seat so I imagine he will go there. If not, he could challenge Wes Streeting, Margaret Hodge or John Cryer (who could, in turn, seek selection in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow)
Redcar. Andy McDonald and Anna Turley can both seek selection in Middlesbrough NE & Redcar, but McDonald is also eligible for the safe Middlesbrough W & Stockton E seat, so a challenge is avoidable.
Ashton Under Lyne. Jonathan Reynolds and Angela Rayner are both eligible, but Rayner is also eligible for the safer Failsworth & Droylsden.
Stockport. This is avoidable, but not without some pain for Ann Coffey. Andrew Gwynne & Ann Coffey are both eligible for the safe Stockport North & Denton seat. Ann Coffey is also eligible for the Stockport South & Cheadle seat, but that is far more marginal (that said, Coffey will be 73 at the next election, so may not stand).
Pontefract. Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett are both eligible to seek selection, but Yvette Cooper also has a free run at Normanton, Castleford and Outwood.

Not Enough Labour seats to go round

The following seven areas have enough seats to go round, but one or more of them is notionally Conservative, so there may be a contest for the winnable seat or someone may be left in a seat that is notionally Conservative:
South London. Siobhain McDonagh’s seat is sliced up. Two of the successor seats, Merton & Wimbledon Common (a potentially winnable marginal) and Sutton & Cheam (no hope) are notionally Conservative, so she will have the choice of fighting one of them, or challenging either Chuka Ummuna or Rosena Allin-Khan.
South-East London. Erith and Thamesmead is split up into Erith & Crayford (a Tory seat) and Woolwich. The only option for a Labour seat for Theresa Pearce is to challenge Matthew Pennycook for the Woolwich nomination. Pennycook has the option of seeking the Woolwich nomination, or going up again Vicky Foxcroft for the Greenwich & Deptford nomination.
Coventry. Geoffrey Robinson’s seat becomes comfortably Conservative on new boundaries, but he has the option of going up against Jim Cunningham for the Coventry South nomination. He’ll be 81 by the next election, so I assume he won’t.
Nottingham. Vernon Coaker’s Gedling seat disappears. Half goes into the Conservative Sherwood seat, so there is the potential of a battle against Chris Leslie for the nomination in the Labour Nottingham East and Carlton seat.
Cumbria. The Workington seat disappears. Part of it goes into the very Conservative Penrith & Solway seat, which is unlikely to be attractive to Sue Hayman, leaving her the option of fighting Jamie Reed for the Whitehaven & Workington seat.
Wrexham. Susan Elan Jones’s Clwyd South seat is dismembered. Part of it goes into the elaborately named De Clwyd a Gogledd Sir Faldwyn seat, but that is notionally Conservative. The other part goes into Wrexham Maelor, where she would have to compete against Ian Lucas for the nomination.
Newport. The Newport seats are combined into one. Jessica Morden would also have the right to seek nomination in Monmouthshire, but that’s solidly Tory leaving one Labour seat between her and Paul Flynn. Flynn will be 85 come the next election, so the issue may well be resolved by retirement.

Straight two way fights

There are seven Labour seats where there are two Labour MPs who are eligible for that seat, and that seat only – meaning a straight fight is unavoidable unless someone stands down:
Sunderland West – Bridget Phillipson vs Sharon Hodgson
Newcastle North West – Catherine McKinnell vs Chi Onwurah
Wednesfield & Willenhall – David Winnick vs Emma Reynolds (though Winnick will be 86)
Stoke South – Rob Flello vs Tristram Hunt
Dudley East & Tipton – Ian Austin vs Adrian Bailey (though Bailey will be 74)
Neath & Aberavon – Stephen Kinnock vs Christina Rees
Cardiff South & East – Jo Stevens vs Stephen Doughty

More complicated fights

There are eight areas where there are rather more complicated fights… but where ultimately there are more Labour MPs than there are seats, so something will have to give:

Birmingham. Roger Godsiff’s seat disppears. He will have the right to seek election in four other Birmingham seats, putting him up against Gisela Stuart, Jess Phillips, Richard Burden or Steve McCabe. He will be 73 come the election though, so may choose to stand down.
Islington & Hackney. The change that got the most attention when the proposals were announced. Essentially Meg Hillier, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Rushanara Ali have to somehow share out the Finsbury Park & Stoke Newington, Hackney West and Bethnal Green and Hackney Central seats. Someone is going to get stuffed.
Rochdale & Bury. Debbie Abrahams, Ivan Lewis, Liz McInnes and Simon Danzcuk are in play, with Rochdale, Prestwich and Middleton and Littleborough & Saddleworth. If Danzcuk remains suspended from the Labour party then the problem presumably resolves itself.
Liverpool. Steve Rotheram’s seat disappears and he would be eligible to challenge Louise Ellman, Peter Dowd or Stephen Twigg for selection in their seats. Rotheram himself is standing for Liverpool mayor, so it won’t be an issue for him. If he steps down though whoever is elected in the subsequent by-election would face the same issue.
Bradford & Leeds. Judith Cummins seat disppears. She is eligible to seek selection for Bradford West (against Naz Shah), in Spen (against Jo Cox’s successor) or in Pudsey, where Rachel Reeves will likely also be seeking the nomination (Leeds West vanishes, but Pudsey takes much of its territory and becomes a notionally Labour seat)
Sheffield. Newly elected Gill Furniss sees her seat dismembered – she is eligible to seek nomination in Sheffield North and Ecclesfield (against Angela Smith) or Sheffield East (against Clive Betts).
Pontypridd. Owen Smith’s seat is dismembered and he will have the right to seek nomination in either Chris Bryant’s Rhondda & Llantrisant or Ann Clwyd’s Cynon Valley and Pontypridd. Ann Clwyd will be 83 by the next election, so it may be resolved by retirement.
Islwyn. Chris Evans’ seat also vanished, and he will have the choice of competing against Nick Smith in Blaenau Gwent or Wayne Davies in Caerphilly.

The deep blue sea

Fourteen Labour MPs do not have a notionally Labour seat they would be eligible to seek selection in. In some cases this is just because of a slight change to an already ultra-marginal seat (e.g. Chris Matheson in Chester notionally loses his seat, but there’s really little change from 2015), in other cases it leaves them with a very difficult fight:

Andy Slaughter would face a Tory majority of 14% in the new Hammersmith & Fulham seat
Gareth Thomas would face a Tory majority of 11% in the new Harrow and Stanmore
Joan Ryan would face a small Tory majority of just 3% in the new Enfield seat
Ruth Cadbury faces a 10% Tory majority in Brentford & Chiswick
Tulip Siddiq faces a 9% Tory majority in Hampstead and Golders Green
Alex Cunningham is only eligible for the nomination in Stockton West, with a 7% Tory majority
Chris Matheson doesn’t actually face much change, but Chester would have a 1% Tory majority on paper
Jenny Chapman faces a notional Tory majority of 1% in Darlington
Madeleine Moon’s Bridgend is merged with the Vale of Glamorgan to create a notionally Tory seat, but with a majority of only 3%
Alan Whitehead’s Southampton Test would have a 4% Tory majority on paper (Southampton Itchen would flip to Labour… but Whitehead doesn’t have the right to go there under Labour rules)
Melanie Orr would be eligible to seek selection in either Grimsby North & Barton or Grimsby South and Cleethorpes. Both, however, would be Conservative.
Holly Walker-Lynch faces a similar situation, under Labour rules she can apply for Calder Valley or Halifax, but they are both notionally Tory.
Finally, in the sorriest situation of all are Margaret Greenwood and Alison McGovern. They are both only eligible to seek selection in the new Bebington & Heswall seat… and even if they do get it, it’s now notionally Tory.

So, by my reckoning there will probably be around 15 re-selection battles where a sitting Labour MP faces up against another sitting Labour MP on the provisional boundaries, though remember that these are subject to change (and it only takes a small adjustment by the boundary commission to shift the number of voters from an old seat above or below 40%). It’s also worth noting that you don’t need boundary changes for a deselection – there is a normal trigger ballot process than can be used to deselect an MP and some of the speculation about deselections – Peter Kyle for example – is not due to Labour seats being merged together.


Tomorrow’s Times has a new YouGov poll of the Labour leadership electorate (party members from before the cut-off date, trade union affiliates and £25 registered supporters) showing Jeremy Corbyn with a robust lead over Owen Smith. Topline voting intentions excluding don’t knows are Corbyn 62%, Smith 38%. 8% of voters say don’t know.

Jeremy Corbyn leads convincingly in all three parts of the electorate: among party members he is ahead by 57% to 43%, among trade union affiliates he is ahead 62% to 38%, among registered supporters he is ahead by a daunting 74% to 26%. If the numbers are broken down by length of membership Owen Smith actually leads among those who were members before the last general election, but they are swamped by the influx of newer members who overwhelmingly back Jeremy Corbyn.

The poll was conducted over the weekend, so after Labour members will have started to vote. The actual contest still has three weeks to go, but with people already voting and that sort of lead to make up Owen Smith’s chances do not look good.

Looking to the future, 39% of the selectorate (and 35% of full party members) think it is likely the party will split after the election. 45% of party members who support Owen Smith say that if some MPs opposed to Corbyn were to leave and form a new party they would follow them (29% of Smith supporters say they are likely to leave the party if Corbyn wins anyway… though I’m always a little wary of questions like that, it’s easier to threaten to leave than to actually do it)

YouGov also asked about mandatory re-selection. Party members are divided right down the middle – 46% of full members think MPs should normally have the right to stand again without a full selection, 45% of members think that MPs should face a full reselection before every election. The split is very much along the Smith-Corbyn divide – 69% of Corbyn supporters are in favour of reselections, 77% of Smith supporters are opposed.

Full tabs are here.