Majority Pursuit report highlights New Labour party polling

Published: 10 July 2015 at 11:03

The Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University releases data from its polling of Labour Party councillors across marginal constituencies ahead of the 2015 General Election.

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Over 400 councillors were asked questions on subjects ranging from Labour's likely chances in their constituency to the success or failure of current policy and slogans.

The report, entitled Majority Pursuit, referenced data that ranged over two separate polls. In the 106 seats Labour have targeted to gain them a majority:

  • 54% of the 281 respondents are confident or very confident the party will win in their seat in 2015. Using data from across the two surveys, we may make a ballpark projection of Labour having between 311 and 326 seats in the next House of Commons. This is hung parliament territory.
  • In Liberal Democrat held seats the confident/very confident percentage is 85% of Labour activists who think their party will win said seat. In Tory held seats it is a much more modest 45% - the Tory nut will be harder to crack for Labour.
  • Only 22.4% of respondents in the 106 target seats deem Ed Miliband 'a help' to Labour's electoral chances with 38% viewing him as 'a hindrance' or 'a significant hindrance' to their fortunes.
  • UKIP are viewed as more of a danger to the Conservative vote than Labour. 61% of respondents think UKIP will take most votes from the Conservatives in the seats Labour need to win, with 15% for Labour.
  • In terms of current policies, the following are viewed as gaining the party the most votes in the must gain seats: repealing the NHS bill (22.4%), scrapping the bedroom tax (21.7%) and freezing energy bills (20.6%).

But could a new course be pursued? Of the new policies that could gain Labour votes in the 106 target seats:

  • 78.3% of respondents see Labour's current proposals as too timid, with 16.4% as 'about right.' Just 1.4% believe they are too radical.
  • Openly declaring they would renationalise expiring rail franchises if it makes business sense would have a massively positive impact on the Labour vote. 87.9% argue it would benefit the Labour vote in these vital seats, with only 2.8% viewing it as harmful.
  • Pledging to follow the 10 European nations moving ahead with a broad based Financial Transaction Tax would have a strongly positive impact on the Labour vote in the target seats too. 51.9% argue it would benefit the Labour vote, with only 6.4% viewing it as harmful.

In the 50 Labour held seats most vulnerable to be taken by the Conservatives:

  • Over 90% of the 124 respondents are confident or very confident of holding their seat.
  • Claiming Ed Miliband does not look like a suitable Prime Minister is viewed to be doubly an effective tactic (30.6%) for Tories trying to take Labour seats as it will be in seats the Conservatives are trying to defend (15.3%).

Taking all 405 respondents from both polls into account:

For the Labour Party...

  • over three-quarters (76.3%) of councillors are confident or very confident the party will win in 2015.
  • The slogan 'One Nation Labour' is viewed sceptically, with less than a third (32.8%) thinking it has worked and over half (51.6%) that it has not.
  • For the future, Andy Burnham is viewed as by far the most attractive potential leadership candidate in both defensive and offensive marginals. 36% of respondents think he would gain Labour the most votes in any 2020 election. Yvette Cooper (21.2%) and Chuka Umunna (16.3%) follow.
  • Labour activists would prefer to see a tougher line on free schools, with 58.8% thinking they should be scrapped altogether or placed under LEA control.
  • Labour activists think the party should not offer an in-out referendum on membership of the EU by an over two to one margin (31.1% to 62.7%).

For the Conservative Party...

  • Labour activists think negative messaging will work most effectively for Cameron. 44% believe claiming Labour's responsibility for the 2008 crash will be the Tories strongest argument, with 20% believing that 'claiming Ed Miliband does not look like a Prime Minister' will aid the Conservative cause the most. Highlighting the broad economic recovery was selected by one respondent in four (25.2%).

For the Liberal Democrats...

  • In the event of another hung parliament, less than one in eight (10.9%) Labour activists across the two polls would back a Coalition with Nick Clegg in situ, three in ten (29.4%) would back one were he to resign as Lib Dem leader, and a majority (56.5%) think Labour should form a minority government.
  • Should Nick Clegg stand down, 27.2% of Labour activists across the two polls would favour Vince Cable as Deputy Prime Minister. Tim Farron received 10.9%, Charles Kennedy 16.8% and Julian Huppert 0%.