In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

The Selectorate and the Leadership


They are aligned, but how tightly? (Edited: Labour)

In the second part of Ian Warren’s poll of the Labour selectorate, these questions focus on the beliefs around the party’s leadership, and puts forward several possible ballots [1].


The party’s selectorate — its membership and other people who can vote in leadership elections — has a more favourable view of the present leadership than either Labour voters or the general public [2].

Whilst 71% of Great British adults believe that they are unlikely to see a 2020 general election victory for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, 47% of Labour’s selectorate think Jeremy Corbyn is likely to become Prime Minister.

Overwhelming, the Labour selectorate responded that Jeremy Corbyn should continue to fight the next general election, even if Labour perform poorly in the May 2016 elections. However, when the spectre of electoral defeat in those elections loomed, the desire for Jeremy Corbyn to remain the party leader dropped from 63% to 53%.


The selectorate would like Jeremy Corbyn to remain as leader, even if the party does badly in the May 2016 elections. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

“Damaging to the party to speak publicly”

Respondents were asked which response was closest to their view on Labour MPs who disagree with Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader. 30% said that these MPs “had a responsibility to speak out if they believe the leader is wrong and should do so publicly”. In contrast, 63% believed “it was damaging to the party to speak publicly and they should talk to the leader in private”. Unsuprisingly, 64% of the selectorate who thought Mr Corbyn should leave the leadership now also said MPs had a responsibility to speak.


Only 30% of the current selectorate believe dissenting MPs have a responsibility to publicly speak out. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

When asked about their interactions with other parties, 34% of respondents said they had, at least once in their life, voted for the Green Party. 41% said they had voted for the Liberal Democrats at some point in their lives. The question then turned to being members of other parties: 4% said they had previously been a Green Party member, and 3% said they once held a membership card for the Liberal Democrats.

Given the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn would be removed from his leadership role before the next general election, 23% of the current full membership suggest they would leave in that scenario.

The Ballots

Finally, we reach the main events. Respondents were first given a list of twelve potential leadership candidates, including Jeremy Corbyn, and the option to select others if they wished. In the long ballot, 43% said they would give their first preference to Jeremy Corbyn. 10% said they did not know, and the next highest candidate was Hilary Benn with 8% of first preferences.

The survey then offered three different ballots with six candidates each. Five of the candidates are on each paper: Hilary Benn, Dan Jarvis, Lisa Nandy, Angela Eagle and Tom Watson. Jeremy Corbyn is on the first short ballot. In this prospective election, Jeremy Corbyn wins triumphantly, with 62% of first preferences. 8% said they would not vote in this election.


Jeremy Corbyn wins. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

The current Labour leader also has broad and wide support in any future leadership contest: no demographic segment — the categories of gender, age, social grade and region — has Mr Corbyn receiving less than 55% of first preferences.


Jeremy Corbyn has strong support in a leadership contest, across demographic segments. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

Next, the selectorate were asked how they would vote if John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, replaced Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot. In this scenario, 29% of first preferences go to John McDonnell, with Hilary Benn rising to 20%, and Tom Watson rendered third, on 17%. However, 19% of the Labour selectorate said they would not vote.


This contest would have to go to later rounds. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

Finally, if neither Jeremy Corbyn nor John McDonnell stood for the leadership, and their names were supplanted by Owen Smith, the election looks very different. If the candidates were Owen Smith, Hilary Benn, Dan Jarvis, Lisa Nandy, Angela Eagle and Tom Watson, then 27% of the surveyed selectorate would not participate.

On this smaller turnout, Hilary Benn would squeeze ahead of Tom Watson on first preferences, 24% to 23%. Angela Eagle would be third in the opening round, with 19% of first preferences.


Hilary Benn wins the first round, but 27% said they would vote. (Data: YouGov. Visualisation: Tableau)

Those members and associates who voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the first prospective ballot spread themselves across these six candidates: 37% went on to support Tom Watson, 22% backed Angela Eagle and 15% supported Lisa Nandy with their first preference.


With about a quarter of the selectorate prepared to leave if Jeremy Corbyn ceases to be the leader, and about a fifth not even wishing to vote in leadership contests that did not include him, this is a precarious situation for anyone within Labour who genuinely wants Mr Corbyn to step down.


[1] Warren, I., 2016. The party and its leader. Election Data. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd February 2016]

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


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This entry was posted on February 25, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged , , , , , .
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