Some fascinating research from Lord Ashcroft:
Last month I polled over 10,000 people, paying particular attention to those who voted Labour in 2017 but not in 2019. We have also conducted 18 focus groups in seats Labour lost, with people who have moved away from the party (often feeling that the party had moved away from them). The report includes extensive quotes from these discussions, since they explain Labour’s predicament better than any analyst could. They are all the more powerful when you consider they come from people who were voting Labour until very recently and probably never expected to do otherwise.
We also polled over 1,000 Labour Party members, and conducted focus groups with members of the party and of Labour-supporting trade unions, to see how the Labour movement’s understanding of the election differs from that of the electorate at large and whether – and how far – they think the party needs to change.
So this is gold standard research. A poll of over 10,000 voters, 18 focus groups and polls and focus groups of members as well as voters.
From election night on, senior Labour figures have argued that the result was all about Brexit – with the implication that their lost voters will be back in force once that issue is off the agenda. While there is no doubt that Brexit played a huge part in the election, Labour would be wrong to draw too much comfort from that. Yes, many voted to “get Brexit done.” But they also thought Labour’s policy of renegotiation and neutrality was simply not credible: it stemmed from hopeless division and proved the party was nowhere near ready for government.
More serious still for these voters was the principle that Labour had refused to implement the democratically expressed wishes of the people, and often of their own constituents. Brexit therefore became a metaphor for a party that no longer listened to them, taking their votes for granted while dismissing their views as ignorant or backward.
So they have to earn those voters back. Currently they are polling 16% behind the Conservatives even with Brexit sort of done.
It was reported that Labour’s official inquiry “exonerated” Jeremy Corbyn from any blame for the election result. I can only assume this was a compassionate gesture for an already-outgoing septuagenarian leader, because no serious reading of the evidence could reach such a verdict. “I did not want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister” topped the list for Labour defectors when we asked their reasons for switching, whether they went to the Tories or the Lib Dems, to another party, or stayed at home. Though a few saw good intentions, former Labour voters in our groups lamented what they saw as his weakness, indecision, lack of patriotism, apparent terrorist sympathies, failure to deal with antisemitism, outdated and excessively left-wing worldview, and obvious unsuitability to lead the country.
He was basically unelectable, as I suspect Bernie Sanders is also.
Labour today seemed to be mostly for students, the unemployed, and middle-class radicals. It seemed not to understand ordinary working people, to disdain what they considered mainstream views and to disapprove of success.
Sounds like a perfect description of NZ Labour also. They no longer are the party of blue collar workers.