Jezza’s Bezzas: Labour’s New Members

By Tim Bale

Labour is in crisis. Whoever stands in the next leadership contest will have to face its grassroots members, large numbers of whom joined the party to help elect Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.

With the help of YouGov and as part of an ESRC-funded project on UK party membership in the twenty-first century, we (Professor Tim Bale and Dr Monica Poletti (Queen Mary University of London) and Professor Paul Webb (University of Sussex)) have conducted a new survey of Labour’s new members, fielded just after the May 2016 local, devolved and mayoral elections.

We have surveyed 2,026 members and registered supporters of the Labour Party who joined it after the May 2015 general election. This includes 876 people who joined as full members, 280 who initially joined as £3 registered supporters but then upgraded their membership (ie 1,156 full members in total) plus 870 people who are just registered supporters. Tables are available on request.

So what do they look like – and how do they compare with those members the team surveyed back in May 2015, the vast majority of whom were members when Ed Miliband was leader?

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Minority views? Labour members had been longing for someone like Corbyn before he was even on the ballot paper

By Tim Bale, Paul Webb and Monica Poletti

Recent media reports suggest Labour MPs may be gearing up to move against Jeremy Corbyn. This is supposed to happen before a change in rules could see the number of nominations needed for any would-be candidate to enter a leadership contest reduced. Yet Corbyn was not elected by mistake, explain Tim BalePaul Webb and Monica Poletti. A large number of Labour members – whether they joined before or after Corbyn was nominated by MPs – wanted what they got. Persuading them to change their views now they’ve got it will not be easy.

recently published blow-by-blow account of one of the biggest upsets we’ve ever seen in a Labour Party leadership contest reminds us that Jeremy Corbyn only made it onto the ballot paper due to the nominations of 35 MPs – ‘morons‘, according to John McTernan, Tony Blair’s Director of Political Operations from 2005 to 2007. Whether it’s right to blame them (or for them to blame themselves) is debatable, however. After all, the final choice lay in the hands of the Party’s grassroots. And when it comes to the role played by Labour’s members in Corbyn’s election, there’s some conventional wisdom that needs challenging.

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Haydn CC BY-NC-SA

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