Don’t believe the media spin – YouGov’s poll has found huge support for Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn attracted thousands of people to hear him speak on the doorstep of the Conservative Party conference, while 'moderates' in his own party were briefing against him in the Tory press.

Jeremy Corbyn attracted thousands of people to hear him speak on the doorstep of the Conservative Party conference, while ‘moderates’ in his own party were briefing against him in the Tory press.

YouGov has published the results of a poll carried out among what it calls “members of the Labour selectorate” to gauge current feelings about Labour, its policies and leaders – but This Writer is wondering whether the media are being selectIVE about the figures they’re quoting.

YouGov polled 1443 members of the Labour “selectorate” – party members, registered supporters and affilated supporters able to vote in the leadership contest, and people coming back to Labour who didn’t support the party in the general election – and the tables break the results down by various categories, as well as comparing what the “selectorate” thinks with the views of Labour voters and GB adults generally.

It’s also worth paying attention to a VP commenter who wrote today (November 24): “My experience is that YouGov carefully choose who they will ask. This means one is not invited to take part in some polls as YouGov are pretty sure of your answer, and they don’t want a rusult that will upset their sponsor.” The sponsor in this case is the Tory-supporting Times newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The Graun focused on the figures for Labour members “for simplicity’s sake”. That’s all very well, but isn’t the effect on the wider public also interesting? Surely it is more important at a time when opponents of the Corbyn leadership are briefing against him in the right-wing press, in an attempt to turn public opinion against a leader who was elected with an overwhelming mandate?

So, for example, while the number of Labour members who think Corbyn is doing well totals 66 per cent, isn’t it more interesting that 74 per cent of those polled, who didn’t vote Labour in the general election, also think he is doing well?

Corbyn is unlikely to become prime minister, according to half of Labour members – but that opinion is reflected by only 40 per cent of people who didn’t vote Labour in the election. Does this indicate that “floating” voters are floating in Corbyn’s direction? Remember, it’s early days yet.

And the answer to the very next question is fascinating. If Corbyn remains Labour leader, only 41 per cent of Labour members think Labour won’t win the election. It’s basically the same question as the last – Corbyn would still become prime minister – but nine per cent fewer people thought Labour would lose. What does that tell us? Almost 2/3 of people who voted for Corbyn – 64 per cent – said Labour would win, along with 57 per cent of people who didn’t vote Labour in the general election – another shift towards Corbyn.

The Graun points out that, among those who voted for non-Corbyn candidates in the leadership contest, 79 per cent think Corbyn is unlikely ever to become prime minister. Isn’t that to be expected? Isn’t that why Labour intolerants – sorry, sorry, ‘moderates’ – are briefing against him in the press, rather than taking concerns through the proper channels – to increase this likelihood?

Should Corbyn lead Labour into the next election? 56 per cent of Labour members said yes, alongside a whopping 76 per cent of those who didn’t vote Labour at the last election.

Asked who should replace Corbyn if he did step down, it is significant that more Labour members said they didn’t know (16 per cent) than supported anybody except Andy Burnham. His lead, with 19 per cent, disappears when the votes of those who aren’t full members is considered (19 per cent of them didn’t know either), and is annihilated when the votes of those who didn’t support Labour at the election are taken into account (24 per cent of them didn’t know).

On policy, the ‘moderates’ take a hammering. These are the people who have repeatedly claimed that Labour must put forward policies that are designed to win elections, no matter whether they correspond with their own principles or those of the party as a whole. Only 32 per cent – less than a third – of everybody polled agreed with them. 56 per cent said it is better for a major political party to put forward policies it really believes in – rising to 67 per cent of those who didn’t vote Labour in May.

To This Writer, such a result indicates that a party that believes in the policies it puts forward won’t lose elections – as suggested by the question. People prefer politicians they can trust not to tell lies.

The response to the next question also wipes out the Corbyn-haters. Asked if he had moderated his personal opinions since he became leader – against a background of media critics and Labour ‘moderates’ claiming he has u-turned left, right and centre – a clear majority said he had not done so, in all polled groups.

So the propaganda war against Corbyn is a total failure – and is in fact increasing his support base, rather than encouraging people to desert him.

However, a clear majority also believes the Shadow Cabinet is divided – 79 per cent. Considering the level of support for Corbyn, this can only indicate disapproval of the Labour MPs who have been briefing against him in the media – and, sure enough, 55 per cent of members blame MPs opposed to Corbyn for the division, rising to 69 per cent of those who didn’t support Labour in the general election (the people Labour needs to recapture).

The next question referred to the reselection issue. Some Corbyn supporters have been criticised over their demands for his critics to be deselected, due to what they see as clear betrayals of the Labour leader and the party as a whole (the argument is that any public display of dissent encourages people to think Labour is split and is not capable of forming a strong government). Should MPs be made to seek re-selection before every election, or should this happen only if they haven’t done “a reasonable job”?

Answer: Full party members, “not full members”, Corbyn supporters and those who didn’t support Labour in the election demanded re-selection procedures; supporters of the other candidates in the leadership contest disagreed. What does that tell you about Corbyn’s critics? Doesn’t it say they want to avoid the democratic judgement of their constituency parties?

Asked to define attributes they associate with Mr Corbyn, the majority of all those polled said he was principled, honest, courageous and shared their political outlook. Labels such as “deluded”, “indecisive”, “weak” or “untrustworthy” were comprehensively rejected.

But it is true that few were willing to commit when asked whether he would lead Labour to victory or defeat, with only around 30 per cent supporting either suggestion.

What we’re seeing, in a nutshell, is a Labour leader who has the support of the majority of Labour members – and is winning over those who did not vote Labour at the last election.

This group is by far the most enthusiastic about Mr Corbyn’s leadership, indicating a huge influx of new or returning Labour voters who have been energised by the Corbyn leadership.

Contrast this with what YouGov’s Peter Kellner said about the poll: “Mr Corbyn’s supporters seem to know that they they are out of touch with the wider public, but don’t mind.”

Not true. The more the public knows about Corbyn, the more the public supports him.

That is what Kellner’s own poll suggests – and a weak attempt at spin can’t erase it.

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24 thoughts on “Don’t believe the media spin – YouGov’s poll has found huge support for Corbyn

  1. mohandeer

    Excellent as usual, at working through figures and representing them with much acumen. As I have posted before, one of my neighbours(we are all over 50’s) who voted Tory reads the Guardian and watches TV(he’s nearly 80 yrs old) told me he watches Wednesday’s PMQ’s and said to me” If Jeremy Corbyn had been around in May I would never have voted Tory, but Labour were useless. There was nothing to tell them apart and they always hike up taxes then spend it stupidly – always have done” (that’s an approximation of the conversation). I think your interpretation is far more accurate than Peter Kellnar’s. Several of my neighbours are really enthused about the next election and are going to vote for JC, – it’s 5 years away! Hope he doesn’t peg it before then, we need him.I’m not that interested in Trident or NATO because you can’t curtail the blood lust among the war hawks, and I have no real problem with immigration at reasonable levels, the economy can sort that problem out IF we have a good economic and fiscal strategy that will hold up against petro dollar collapse(The greatest enemy of capitalism is capitalism) as long as Labour pursues Corbynomics and can get the message across, Labour can win next time round IF they all pull together.
    p.s. I’m against Trident, NATO and military intervention in Syria and Israelis have been shooting Palestinian children in the head for 70 years so how should Hamas fight back, or even why shouldn’t Hamas fight back – that is what JC knows but cannot say and I have been a Trade Union Representative. I’m very ordinary and typical so your analysis and presentation likely reflects the feelings of more than 20 million people. FFw’d to 2020 and we will be calling you Mr. Prescient.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Are you saying your are a murderer? Or are you just trying to be funny?
        This Blog does not condone illegal violence or the suggestion of it.

  2. Joan Edington

    “Should Corbyn lead Labour into the next election? 56 per cent of Labour members said yes, alongside a whopping 76 per cent of those who didn’t vote Labour at the last election.”

    As has been mentioned, YouGov is a basically Tory polling company. It was started by Jeffrey Archer I believe. I get a good many invites from them and it is correct that they seem to know as much about you as Facebook, which may sway who is invited. If that is the case, how many of the 76 per cent were Tories who paid their £3 to vote Corbyn in, with the expectation that it would make Labour unelectable?

    This is not my view by the way. I would have used my Union political levy vote genuinely for Corbyn if they hadn’t dis-allowed me.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If you were removed from the ‘supporters’, why do you think Tories weren’t? In any case, they would have been included in the ‘not full members’ group.
      The group of people who didn’t vote Labour in the GE but returned to Labour afterwards are, it seems to me, people who have been brought back to Labour by the arrival of Corbyn – and therefore represent the only viewpoints held by members of the general public rather than committed Labour voters.

      1. Joan Edington

        There is a slight difference. I was not removed, since I followed the rules and didn’t attempt to vote, being a member of another political party. I was not referring to Tory party members, who could be recognised and removed accordingly, but rather to Tory sympthisers.

        I do take your point about the grouping, though. The whole survey sounds overly complicated, especially if the invitees were carefully selected.

        Slightly off topic; even though the Labour Party Scottish conference voted against Trident and seem to be behind Corbyn, the old guard have come out in force, in a similar way to the “moderates” at Westminster. They are not allowing any of the more recent members, most of whom joined because of Corbyn, to put themselves forward for the regional list vote at our Hollyrood election next year. They are shoe-horning in the likes of Anas Sarwar, he who recently treated 500 selected Labourites to a free dinner at “one of Scotland’s leading banqueting venues”. The selected elite were, of course, those in positions to affect the list placement. He hasn’t even the bottle to stand for a constituency. If he is placed first on the Glasgow regional list he will automatically become an MSP, and he has the gall to refer to himself as “standing”.

    2. Nick Coleridge

      It doesn’t quite add up what you are saying. In the General Election, YouGov were miles out, with a strong pro-Labour bias in their figures. Unintentionally, I genuinely believe. But it certainly indicates that they weren’t pro Tory. The polls conducted on behalf of Tory newspapers were every bit as wrong as those in Labour newspapers. It was their consistently better performance in Economics which won it for Cameron and Co.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Sorry – their what?
        In case you haven’t noticed, the Conservatives have missed every single target they have set for themselves since coming into office in 2010, for the simple reason that you cannot cut your way out of a deficit.
        It was the Tories’ consistently better performance at lying to the British voting public that won them the election. They said Labour had over-borrowed and overspent in the run-up to the economic crisis, right-wing Labour refused to defend itself, and enough gullible people believed the Tories to vote them back in.

  3. fathomie

    Anyone who watched the general (and local) elections during the 1980’s and 92′ knows where Kellners sympathies lie. The man’s a died in the wool Tory. The BBC/ITV panels could hardly restrain their glee every time the Tories got back in. As such his opinion, like so many other Tories in the media eye, is utterly worthless.

    The BBC has become so top heavy with Tory cronies, ex MP’s, known supporters, ex murdoch men, that even Nick Robinson, an ex YC, has been moved to criticise their totally biased coverage of Corbyn.

  4. hilary772013

    I am a member of YouGov and I filled out this survey and was astonished at the reported results. Well done Mike for dissecting and giving us a true account.

  5. 0olong

    Interesting analysis, but I’ve been alerted to something which seems very misleading – at least, it misled me on first reading. You talk of those who didn’t vote Labour in the last election as if they were representative of ‘floating voters’, but given that *everyone* in the poll is among the ‘Labour selectorate’, those who didn’t vote Labour but then joined will *of course* be heavily slanted in favour of Corbyn supporters! We already know that huge numbers of people were inspired to join or ‘support’ the party thanks to his candidacy, and then leadership.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Of course, they’re representative of floating voters. They didn’t vote Labour in the election but they support Labour now. That’s exactly what floating voters do! And they’re exactly the sort of people Labour needs to attract – people who didn’t vote Labour before. Yes, they’re strongly in support of Corbyn, but that’s exactly the point too – they came back for him, and not for any other reason. It isn’t an “of course” situation because people can have many different reasons for choosing to vote for a party. The fact that, in these cases, it seems to be so strongly because of Corbyn is precisely the point I was making.

      1. Matt Kane (@ascorbic)

        That doesn’t mean they’re representative of floating voters. It means they’re representative of floating voters who have already been convinced enough to actually join Labour or register as supporters! If they were representative, they’d include voters who are yet to be convinced, unless you think every floating voter has already been convinced, and has already joined Labour. If that’s the case, it’s a very pessimistic reading, as that means there’s no way of convincing any more (and we’re heading to a Tory landslide).
        Either that or we’re using very different definitions of “representative”. In polling, it means that you can expect the representative sample to give similar answers to those given by the sampled population as a whole.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Have you forgotten that this was a survey OF LABOUR SUPPORTERS?

        Read the article again, along with my responses. You’ll see they are consistent with each other and the survey. Your comment is not.

      3. Jack

        They’re representative of a very small subset of floating voters. They are people who didn’t vote Labour in May but have subsequently become registered supporters (in whatever manner). Given that the Corbyn campaign was the only one to encourage people to sign up to vote for him, then by definition the people who have been drawn to Labour will be mostly in favour of Corbyn. In fact, I’m surprised the figure isn’t higher than 74%.

        To suggest that these people are at all representative of the general public is a gross misunderstanding of the figures.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        Even YouGov hasn’t suggested that their poll OF LABOUR SUPPORTERS is representative of the general public.

        You are being disingenuous. Having seen your initial claim disproved, you are trying to find something that will stick. Forget it; I’m not buying it and neither will This Blog’s readers.

      5. 0olong

        No. There’s a very important difference *being* and *being representative of*, which you’re obscuring. I very much would like to think that people who joined Labour thanks to Corbyn are representative of floating voters in general, but there is no reason to think this is the case; much of what happens in the coming years will hinge on how big the gulf between these two groups turns out to be.

        As you mentioned in your post, YouGov compared answers of the Labour selectorate with the public at large, and on my first read through I inferred that the non-Labour-voters you talked about must have been taken from the latter group, because otherwise your conclusions don’t really make sense. It was only by going to the YouGov poll itself (which it was odd you didn’t originally link to) that I realised how wrong I was.

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        There’s no mystery about why I didn’t originally link to the YouGov page – I didn’t have it. The poll was downloadable from the news article against which I was arguing. I went and looked for it afterwards.

        I didn’t obscure anything; you are reading what you want into the article, rather than what is there.

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