In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

The Selectorate and the Public


There is a vast difference between the party membership and the public. (Edited: Labour)

When Jeremy Corbyn became the Labour leader in September 2015, it was an inexorable conclusion that Mr Corbyn reflected the will of the Labour membership. Election analyst Ian Warren commissioned polling company YouGov to conduct a survey on members of the Labour selectorate, between 11th and 15th February 2016 [1].

I was also asked by Mr Warren to produce an interactive Tableau presentation for this poll, to support his data visualisation.

“Most important issues”

The startling aspect is the chasms between the general public, Labour voters and the Labour selectorate in terms of political priorities. The polling company YouGov often ask respondents to choose up to three “most important issues facing the country at this time” [2].

36% of Great British adults believe that health is an important issue, compared to 48% of Labour voters and 68% of members of the Labour selectorate. Similarly, housing is considered a major issue for 49% of Labour’s selectorate, is of salience for 29% of Labour voters and 20% of all adults.


Health is really important to the Labour selectorate. Immigration is not. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

By contrast, 60% of Great British adults say that immigration and asylum is an important issue. This subject was chosen by 46% of Labour voters, and just 17% of the Labour selectorate. Whilst immigration and asylum are typically the top issue for the general public, it is only the seventh most important area of public policy for the Labour selectorate.

Furthermore, 56% of the Labour selectorate believe Labour’s policies were “not left-wing enough” at the last general election, but only 20% of the British public share this analysis.

Agreements and disagreements

Respondents were shown a number of statements, and asked if they agreed or disagreed, and to what extent. Whilst 29% of the general public agreed that “immigration is good for Britain’s economy”, 78% of the Labour selectorate concurred.


Younger members of the Labour selectorate are even more convinced that immigration for good for the economy. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

A plurality (46%) of adults that YouGov asked on 10th-11th February agreed that “the renewal of the Trident nculear submarine is estimated to cost up to £100bn over its lifetime and is an essential part of our national defence that should be renewed”. Only 18% of the Labour selectorate agreed with this statement on Trident, and just 9% of those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn is the leadership contest also accorded.

“If a choice has to be made, it’s more important to create a more equal society than to create a more prosperous society” is a statement that gathers the agreement of 52% of the British public. Support for this statement becomes larger and more fervent among the Labour selectorate (53% strongly agree, 35% agree), and even more so for those who backed Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership race (60% strongly agree, 31% agree).


Equality matters more than prosperity. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

“More efficiently”

Another question arises as to possibilities:

It is possible to achieve better public services such as health, education and the police by running them more efficiently, without spending more on them.

The possibility of efficient public services garners the support of 57% of all adults, with 22% expressing their disagreement. This rate of disagreement rises to 35% for Labour voters, and then to 64% for the Labour selectorate.


Efficiency in public services is impossible for nearly two-thirds of the Labour selectorate. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

Whilst the Labour selectorate are more negative about the United States being “a force for a good in the world today”, they show levels of disdain towards Russia being considered a force for good that is similar to the general public.

In line with the British public, a majority (58%) of Labour Party members believe Labour MPs “should prioritise the views of their constituents”, and 72% of all British adults believe the same.

Niche pursuits

When asked about their next choice for the Labour leadership, 58% of the Labour selectorate said they would rule out a candidate who supported airstrikes in Syria, 51% would not vote for someone who supported the renewal of Trident, and 68% would refrain from supporting a candidate who advocated leaving the European Union.

As politics becomes a more niche pursuit, the party memberships will diverge from the values and hopes and fears of the wider public.


[1] Warren, I., 2016. A party membership in tune with its leader… for better, for worse? Election Data. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd February 2016]

[2] YouGov, 2016. YouGov/Election Data Survey Results. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd February 2016]


One comment on “The Selectorate and the Public

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged , , , , , .
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