No deal is better than May’s deal

New survey of Conservative Party members and voters offers little hope that they’ll help the PM persuade her MPs to support her Withdrawal Agreement

If Theresa May is hoping that her MPs will return to Westminster having been persuaded by their Constituency Associations to back her Brexit deal, she’s going to be disappointed.  Our ESRC-sponsored Party Members Project, run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, has just surveyed 1215 ordinary Conservative Party members, together with a representative sample of 1675 voters.  It appears that those members are in no mood for compromise.

Some 72% of grassroots Tory members, compared to 68% of current Tory voters, voted Leave in 2016 – testimony to David Cameron’s crucial failure in the run up to the EU referendum to convince even his own activists, let alone the country, to back his stance.  Where he was then, Theresa May is today.

It would be fair to say that the Tory grassroots are, if not obsessed, then consumed by Brexit.  We asked all voters to list the three most important issues facing the country, and 60% of them ranked Brexit number one.  That figure rises to 68% among Tory voters and a whopping 75% among Tory members.  And they haven’t changed their minds on the merits of leaving the EU.  Some 79% of Conservative Party members think voters made the right decision in the 2016 referendum – and that includes a quarter (26%) of the (23%) minority of them who voted Remain two-and-a-half years ago; 97% of those who themselves voted Leave maintain the country made the right call. Continue reading

Rules matter: why the current Labour crisis is not (only) about ideology

By Dr Javier Sajuria
Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde and the Constitution Unit

The Labour Party’s current crisis is often characterised as an ideological dispute between the Parliamentary Labour Party and a membership that is significantly more left-wing. But, as Javier Sajuria demonstrates, it is hard to stand this up. The ideological distance between Labour members and MPs is in fact smaller than that between Conservative members and MPs. To explain why many are now suggesting that Labour is on the verge of splitting it is necessary to look at party rules as well as ideology.

The situation within the Labour Party has been described by many as a dispute between the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and the membership. The en masse resignations from the shadow cabinet, followed by a vote of no confidence from 81 per cent of MPs, shows that Jeremy Corbyn has lost the trust of his peers (or perhaps he never really managed to obtain it in the first place). Labour activists, particularly those grouped around the Corbyn-supporting Momentum, accuse the PLP of betraying the party and lining up with the right-wing. On the other hand, MPs respond by pointing out that voters, and not members, elected them and that they have a mandate to protect the party from oblivion.

Continue reading