Sat 23 October 2021

Byline Times exclusively polled voters about the Labour conference, Brexit, the fuel crisis, and the ongoing ‘Corbyn versus Blair’ debate

A clear majority of voters want Labour to talk more about the problems created by Brexit, exclusive polling for Byline Times can reveal.

According to the online poll, conducted by Omnisis, 61% of those surveyed think that “Labour should be talking more about the problems created by Brexit”. 21% disagree with this statement, while 18% maintain that Brexit hasn’t created any problems.

Young people were more likely to vote in favour of remaining in the EU, and the desire to see Labour highlighting its negative consequences is strongest among younger age groups. The poll found that 75% of the 18 to 24 year olds surveyed, and 66% of those aged 25 to 34 think that Labour should be talking more about the issue.

While the proportion of participants who believe that Brexit hasn’t created any problems increases with age (29% among the 65+ bracket), 51% of the 55 to 64 year olds surveyed, and 49% of those aged over 65 think that Labour should be highlighting its ill effects.

Responses also vary on political lines. Only 39% of 2019 Conservative voters surveyed believe that Labour should be talking more about the problems caused by Brexit, compared to 79% of Labour voters, and 91% of Liberal Democrats.

Byline Times polled a representative sample of 1,000 voters during the last day of the Labour Party Conference on 29 September, on a range of issues related to the party.

On the recent fuel crisis – a lack of lorry drivers causing shortages of petrol at the pumps – 58% of those surveyed said that Labour is not talking enough about the issue. This conviction was held in roughly equal measure by different age groups and party supporters (though Labour members were somewhat less likely to criticise the party), showing that Keir Starmer could win support across the ideological spectrum, if he exploits the current crisis.

In general, an overwhelming 74% of people surveyed said that Labour is not doing enough to oppose the Government, including 78% of those aged 55 to 64; and 74% of those over 65 – both key target groups for the party.

Some 77% of people surveyed in the north of England, and 81% of those asked in Scotland, believe that Labour is not doing enough to oppose the Conservatives. Starmer has caused some consternation over the past year for not criticising the Government forcefully enough for its failures over Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic. Even 63% of 2019 Conservative voters asked believe that Labour has not done enough to oppose the Government.

Overall, however, the poll suggests that the Labour Party’s are healthy. It indicates that Labour’s vote share has increased since 2019. Whereas 36% of those surveyed voted Labour in 2019, this figure has now increased to 40%. Some 43% of the sample voted Conservative, which has dropped to 34%. The poll also indicates that 25% of current Labour supporters voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2019, while 8% voted for the Conservatives.

However, the Labour Party Conference did not appear to have significantly influenced the party’s support. 25% of respondents said they are more likely to vote for Labour after its conference, compared to 26% who said they are are less likely to do so. The remainder are neither less nor more likely. In particular, it appears as though the conference helped Labour to consolidate its support among Remain supporters. 30% of former Remain voters surveyed said that they were more likely to vote for Labour after the conference, while 16% were less likely. In contrast, 39% of Leave voters surveyed said that they are less likely to plump for Starmer’s party, and 17% more likely.

Internal Labour battles have dominated this year’s conference. Asking whether Tony Blair or Jeremy Corbyn was a better Labour leader, 73% of participants opted for Blair, leaving Corbyn on just 27%. Corbyn leads among the youngest age bracket by 60% to Blair’s 40%, though support for the former Prime Minister increases significantly with age: 86% of those over 65 chose Blair. Even among Labour voters, Blair is more popular (by 57% to 43%), and Leave voters (by 84% to 16%). The latter figure is perhaps surprising, given that Blair passionately campaigned against leaving the EU, whereas Corbyn was more circumspect.

There is a saying in British politics that ‘divided parties don’t win elections’, so the factional wrangling at Labour’s conference may have an impact on the party’s electability. 69% of the poll’s sample said that Labour is “generally divided” – a view that once again increased with age, though was less prevalent among working class voters. Even 52% of the Labour voters asked think that the party is generally divided, compared to an overwhelming 84% of Conservative voters, and 71% of Liberal Democrats.

The full tables and the methodology used can be found here.


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