Labour’s members are its strength: it’s time to listen to them on Brexit

By Rob Schofield

ANOTHER poll published yesterday by YouGov reveals that the overwhelming majority of Labour members (86%) support a referendum once negotiations are complete.

This has prompted the predictable objection:

“It’s a rigged/inaccurate poll”

We know that pollsters got it wrong in 2017 and massively underestimated Jeremy Corbyn’s support, but YouGov were one of the only pollsters who actually came close. YouGov’s model predicted a 4 point Tory lead (it was actually 2.5) whilst BMG predicted 13 and ICM 12. They are a major pollster who can be deemed to reliably convey the views of Labour members.

“The sample size of 1054 is too small”

YouGov predicted the general election result with studies that had sample sizes of about 1650. If pollsters can predict a general election involving 47 million voters with a relatively small sample size they can be expected to judge the opinions of 540,000 Labour members with a sample size of 1000 with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

“It’s just one poll”

Actually there have been two previous polls that have shown members want a second vote by roughly the same margin.

If you do three experiments and they all give you the same result, it would be highly unscientific to discount them and go with your own theory based on personal assumptions.

In another study published on Friday, YouGov asked 10,000 UK voters how Labour backing a second referendum would change their voting intention. Instead of this change in policy causing the Labour heartlands to abandon the party, as we are frequently told, the evidence suggests that we would gain roughly 1.75 million new voters and lose only 200,000. A 1.5 million increase in votes could be the difference between us winning or losing the next election and securing a Labour government.

As the Labour left we fight for more democracy and to give members a real voice in the party, it is hypocritical to disregard our members’ opinions just because the issue is contentious with the wider electorate.

If a poll was released revealing that 80% of Labour members wanted to scrap Trident we would use this to argue for the policy to be adopted by the leadership (and indeed we should anyway).

The Corbyn project has proven that politics is not about reflecting mainstream opinion back at voters and playing towards the middle but instead by making bold proposals and bringing voters with you.

The duty of socialists is to challenge the prevailing consciousness of the working class and raise it to the level of socialist consciousness that expresses the fundamental interests and goal of our class: the abolition of capitalism through social revolution and workers’ power.

The time has come for Labour to listen to its membership and apply this method to Brexit.