Our team of tellers worked through the night and can now reveal that Critical Mass supporters are overwhelmingly in support of Diane Abbott. Asked whether she should be expelled from the Labour Party over allegations of antisemitism, an overwhelming 99% answered ‘no’. Of the 132 people who answered our poll only 2 (both in England and about to vote Labour) thought she should be expelled.
Whilst we are not claiming our survey is representative of anything other than those who filled it in (we are not YouGov with bogus claims of representativeness), we do feel that this shows that on the left in the UK, and including people who intend to vote Labour in the local elections, there is support for Diane Abbott, a stalwart of the left in the Labour Party for over 40 years, serving as a councillor in Westminster Council from 1982 before becoming the first black MP in the House of Commons in 1987. An Amnesty International report in 2017 revealed that she received over half the sexist abuse aimed at MPs on Twitter and received ten times more abuse, much of it the most vile racism, than any other MP.
Support for a Jeremy Corbyn/Diane Abbott-led breakaway party
We asked whether our readers would support a new party led by Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott who are both now sitting as independents in the House of Commons, with Abbott likely to join Corbyn in being prevented from standing as a Labour candidate in the next election.
The 75% who said they would definitely vote for such a party indicate that there is support for a new left of centre electoral party among those who were enthusiasts for Jeremy Corbyn. Overall 88% of our readers in this poll were supportive of this idea. The greatest support was amongst those planning to vote Green in the local elections, where 77% said they would definitely vote for a new party, with the remaining 23% saying probably. What this suggests is that the Greens are picking up left-wing voters disillusioned with the Labour Party, but voters who are far from convinced of the Greens’ socialist credentials. Whether there are enough socialist voters out there for any party to the left of Labour to consider them worth wooing is an entirely different matter.
Among those planning to vote for TUSC in the forthcoming elections, 82% would definitely switch to a party led by Jeremy Corbyn and a further 12% would probably do so. This is interesting because the majority of the policies advocated by Corbyn as Labour leader have been adopted (or already were) TUSC policy. For some reason people who will vote for those policies when advocated by Jeremy Corbyn are less convinced by them when advocated by David Nellist, himself a former Labour MP, even when he has popular Corbyn ally, Chris Williamson, on board. We can only speculate that for many people who joined Labour during the Corbyn years they are yearning for a return to the excitement of those two elections where it really seemed for a while that left-wing policies were not only popular on the left but had broader support among the wider public. It does start to look a little though like a Corbyn cult rather than a socialist movement looking to promote socialist policies, and that is a worry for the left because in the foreseeable future there is simply no chance that the left in Labour will get anywhere near the leader’s office again.
We asked who people were going to vote for in the forthcoming local elections, if they had an election.
On May 4th (next Thursday) voters go to the polls in England and Scotland in a variety of elections which will, as we discussed in our editorial last week, be seen as a poll on the state of the main parties.
Among our readership there is strong support for parties to the left of Labour but some residual support for Labour remains.
The largest proportion of those with an election are intending to vote Green, currently on around 5% in the national polls; they have 37% support among our readers. TUSC, which does not even register in most national polls, has the support of 21% of our readers, with Labour, currently polling at 44% nationally, only receiving 15% of the vote along with others (mainly independent candidates). Interestingly, 13% are not going to vote. Now, that could mean lots of things. Many people do not vote in local elections. Typical turnout is less than half what it would be in general elections. And sometimes voters stay at home in a kind of silent protest. They may feel less enthused to do so in a national election. We should probably note as well that national coverage of local elections is very low level and is simply concentrated on what it means for the main parties’ wider political chances.
What issues do our readers care about?
We gave a list of 5 issues and asked people to order them from the most important to least important. Those issues were climate emergency, maintaining the NHS, cost of living crisis, electoral reform, and tackling racism and sexism. The table below summarises the results.
Whilst the climate emergency received the most 1st choice votes, with 46 (36%) placing it first, overall maintaining the NHS is the most important issue for our readers. Either by counting 1st and 2nd preferences or by including 3rd preferences the order places the NHS as the main concern for Critical Mass readers.
Depending on how we calculate the final figure, the climate emergency, the NHS or the cost of living crisis are the top 3 issues here. Tackling racism and sexism was a priority for very few of our readers. With only 4% placing it in their top 3. Whilst electoral reform (which we did not specify) only made the top 3 of 15%.
A quick note on how these results are calculated. First choice number (n) and percentage are obvious. It is whatever was placed top. But that we felt was a crude measure, so we have tried to account for the fact that most people find it hard to order things and therefore felt that if somebody put something second that may have been simply because there was no option for first equal. So we took all the first choices and added them to the second choices and this gives us a percentage not of individuals but of first and second choices. When we do the same with 3rd choices it explains why tackling racism and sexism receive 15% of first choices and that percentage is the same for top 3 choices. The first percent is of individuals placing it first, the second is the percent of first, second or third choices it received overall. Hope that makes some sense, let me know if it doesn’t.
What we can see from this result is that for Critical Mass readers, and we would extrapolate from this to the left more generally, see the big issues as the ones that require immediate attention. Yet, interestingly, the national debates rarely mention the climate emergency or saving the NHS. Both are subsumed inside short-term electoral concerns, making it more important than ever to maintain an independent left media. But we would say that, wouldn’t we?
How do our readers feel?
On these results you are a very pessimistic group. Asked to say how positive you felt about the political future, only 2% said they were slightly positive and nobody was ‘very positive’. We understand where the negativity is coming from and we are probably responsible for feeding that particular monster with our own coverage of events.
Perhaps there is some comfort to be taken from the fact that, if you are feeling less than positive about the future, then you are not alone. Most people on the left are probably having exactly the same feelings. As I pointed out in my last cost of living column, it is not just the left who are pessimistic, that feeling pervades the economic elite, and in their hands such feelings are devastating for all of us. All we can say is that things can change very quickly, and we may well take your pulse again in the near future to see whether you feel more optimistic.
We would like thank all those who took the time and effort to fill this survey in. The results, we hope you agree, make interesting reading. We hope you are sufficiently motivated to fill in another survey next week when we will be asking you how you feel about the prospects of a Labour government.
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Socialist of many years. Former Labour member. Currently presenter of The Socialist Hour.