Labour members and public disagree on election defeat

Labour members and public disagree on Labour's election defeat. While the recession is common to both, the public put immigration & Gordon Brown ahead of other factors.

Earlier this week, the Demos think tank examined the views of voters that Labour lost in the 2010 election. A new poll by YouGov for Left Foot Forward shows that Labour members and members of affiliated trade unions have a different assessment to the reason for defeat to the general public.

The YouGov poll shows that, from a limited list of ten statements, Labour party members and the general public have different interpretations of the election defeat. Labour party members and members of affiliated trade unions, who share much in common as they do on policy, list the top three reasons for Labour’s defeat as:

• The economic recession destroyed Labour’s reputation for economic competence;

• Labour ministers became out of touch with ordinary voters; and

• Labour failed to do enough to help its natural working-class supporters.

But while the general public also put the economic recession in their top three, they consider “Labour was too soft on immigration” to be the main factor and “Gordon Brown was a poor Prime Minister” to be the third main reason. Labour being “out of touch” came 4th but not helping its “natural working-class supporters” came a distant joint 6th.

The chart below shows the net support levels* for all ten statements from Labour members, members of affiliated trade unions, and the general public.

While the main reasons cited for Labour’s defeat differ between the voters of each political party, there are some striking similarities too. Labour being too soft on immigration was the number 1 issue for Tory voters, number 2 issue for Labour voters, and number 3 issue for Lib Dem voters reflecting a worrying finding for the Labour party and its activists. The issue was 6th on the list for Labour members and 5th for trade union members.

In terms of the raw numbers agreeing with each of the statements, Labour party and trade union members have most in common with the general public in agreeing that “Labour was far too subservient to the United States over Iraq and Afghanistan” and that “Labour ministers became out of touch with ordinary voters”. Among each group, between two-thirds and three-quarters agree with the statement.

As the debate around Coalition cuts continues, Labour activists will be pleased by the finding that although 59 per cent of the general public agree with the statement that “Most of the extra spending on the public services under Labour was wasted”, under one-in-three voters saw this as one of the main reasons that Labour lost.

* The difference between the percentages of those approving and disapproving

Download the full results here.

UPDATE 14.04

Anthony Wells of YouGov has his own fascinating analysis of these data on his UK Polling Report blog. His conclusion is particularly interesting:

“we shouldn’t go away from this polling thinking that it says a harsher immigration policy is the necessarily the answer. Firstly, people are not always good judges of what drives public opinion or sometimes even their own decisions, so just because immigration was seen as a main driver of Labour’s defeat, it doesn’t mean it necessarily was. Secondly, it may not make good strategic sense for Labour to change their stance on immigration anyway – while it could please their traditional working class supporters, the Labour party is a broad church and also contains middle-class intelligentsia who would be repelled by an anti-immigration policy.”

37 Responses to “Labour members and public disagree on election defeat”

  1. Claire Spencer

    Needs to be taken seriously. RT @leftfootfwd: Labour members and public disagree on Labour's election defeat http://bit.ly/cPKgqU

  2. Billy Blofeld

    Ha – love it………

    Just after the defeat I tried several times to point out that “economic incompetence” was one of the key issues the public had with Labour.

    Rather fantastically my comments never made it through moderation……….. because pointing out that little home truth is considered trolling.

    Now lets all sit back and watch the leadership contenders fail to grasp the nettle…..

  3. David Bishop

    Interesting article on LFF on Labour v public views on why Labour lost: http://bit.ly/cPKgqU Big differences = tax rises and wasted spending

  4. Mary Maguire

    This @YouGov poll @leftfootforward http://bit.ly/cPKgqU just shows political parties need to take different perspectives into account

  5. Labour Confronted With Reality « Billy Blofeld

    […] Left Foot Forwards have today posted some data showing that Labour have finally got around to asking the public why we kicked them out. […]

  6. Bionda Tucker

    RT @leftfootfwd: Labour members and public disagree on Labour's election defeat http://bit.ly/cPKgqU

  7. Shamik Das

    Billy – none of your comments have failed to make it through moderation.

  8. Peter Campbell

    Food for thought: RT @leftfootfwd: Labour members and public disagree on Labour's election defeat http://bit.ly/cPKgqU

  9. David

    RT @leftfootfwd: Labour members and public disagree on Labour's election defeat http://bit.ly/cPKgqU

  10. Andy

    Are the full data available somewhere? Would be interesting to look for clusters/principle components.

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Billy Blofeld – I have to say that if there has been a bigger critic of the Labour Party than me on this blog I haven’t read their posts.

    Did you use bad language or were abusive to anyone?

  12. Billy Blofeld

    @Shamik,

    You are correct – I meant to write that I wrote comments on “Labour List” blog which were moderated.

    I much prefer Left Foot Forwards all round – including your liberal attitude towards moderation.

    Since you let me post unhindered – I try to respect that – and don’t subject you to my potty mouth.

  13. Liz McShane

    Anon – I don’t think anyone could compete with you – you are in a league of your own when it comes to criticising Labour – I am not sure whether that’s a compliment or not…!

    It seems that Billy’s comments weren’t with held or censored as you can see from Shamik’s post above.

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Will – Before you get too complacent regarding the reasons Labour lost the activists need to think for a second.

    59% say “Most of the extra spending on the public services under Labour was wasted”…

    Now give it five years of cuts and those very same people will blame Labour BIG TIME when their services start to suffer (if they do).

    Presently the ramifications of Labour’s waste have yet to be felt but Cameron and Clegg will make sure we know who’s fault it is. Those who agree will say “Told you so” and those who disagree will say “You were right”.

    The graph backs up what I’ve been saying on this blog for months and left wing activists such as Ben Fox, David Taylor and those slavish Labour zombie types really need to study your graph Will and rethink their approach ASAP.

    They are still fighting the last election and unless their attitude changes they will continue to look as delusional and out of touch in public forums as they currently do. They call it group think.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Thanks for that woman. You say the nicest things…

  16. Billy Blofeld

    @Anon E Mouse

    You are indeed the most persistent critic on this blog.

    Labour people will have to listen to your view point if it is ever to get elected, however, I think they are still very much in fingers-in-ears mode.

  17. Jonny Medland

    Very interesting post up @leftfootfwd about perceptions of @UKLabour http://bit.ly/dsteuQ – worrying on spending, immigration.

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Billy Blofeld – I think it’s worse than that. I think that they genuinely believe that they are right and the rest of us are wrong and were mistaken for not electing them.

    I expected the left to do a Truth & Reconciliation type thing – not continue with their sneering arrogance at people who didn’t vote for them at the election.

    On the 5Live debate last week I was disgusted by the leaders response (Abbott excepted) when people said they had voted Lib Dem.

    Lastly. On this very blog David Taylor had an article stating Cameron was wrong to criticise Gordon Brown because he was an ex-Prime Minister and so deserved some sort of respect.

    If that is the attitude of Labour activists then the party is finished. Gordon Brown should be thrown out of the Labour Party for his behaviour toward his own MP’s. Chuck that useless Ed Balls out at the same time…

  19. Chris

    @Mouse

    Yawn, you clearly live in an alternate reality if you believe the rubbish you come out with. How is EdB useless, he has savaged one of the tories supposed big brains to the extent that Gove is now almost a lame duck; and he is also the one putting the most coherent economic argument.

    @Billy

    Why would Labour have to listen to morons who don’t even know which blog their commenting on?

  20. Stephen Bush

    Interesting article on LFF http://bit.ly/dsteuQ – shows the importance of talking about immigration and the deficit. #Andy4Leader

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Thank you for proving the point I make in one go.

    If you believe that Gove is a lame duck when he is a minister for the next five years whilst Balls is in opposition shows you are exactly one of the slavish, dogmatic and tribal Labour zombies that I describe.

    You lost the election Chris – look at Will’s graph – that’s what this is about. Your opinion and view is not shared by normal people Chris – that’s the point of Will’s article. You lost the election because you will not listen and you are still wrong. If you weren’t you’d still be in government. You’re not.

    My “alternate reality” as you describe it is called normality – I’m in the majority Chris.

    Are you really not getting this or am I on Candid Camera or game for a laugh?

    Balls was useless in government (let me guess you liked Gordon Brown as well, not that you’ll answer – you people never do) and his “coherent economic argument” as you describe it was comprehensively undermined on the very 5Live debate I mentioned earlier – you remember the one where he said the governor of the Bank of England was wrong and he was right.

    Chris you lost the election and that doesn’t surprise me. Detachment from reality may be nice for you but every time you send posts to a blog remember to tell yourself this. We lost the election. We hold a minority view in this country. I may be wrong because we lost the election…

    Try this, I love it – it’s called democracy Chris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWLN7rIby9s&NR=1

    Does that not seem familiar to you Chris? That’s when Labour was a democratic party that cared about the poor.

    Sad that it has gone from this to people with your Stalinist views…

  22. Mr Jabberwock

    You say

    “Labour party members and members of affiliated trade unions, who share much in common as they do on policy, list the top three reasons for Labour’s defeat as:
    • The economic recession destroyed Labour’s reputation for economic competence;
    • Labour ministers became out of touch with ordinary voters; and
    • Labour failed to do enough to help its natural working-class supporters.”

    Well that is not true if you look at the graphic or the data. “The economic recession destroyed Labour’s reputation for economic competence” was the 6th reason given by party members and the 4th and 5th equal reason by Trade Unions. The most emphatic reason given was subservience to the US in respect of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Or am I missing something here?

  23. Billy Blofeld

    @Chris

    You are clearly very much part of Labour’s problem. Long may your view prevail.

  24. Chris

    Mouse boring again
    goaway
    not intrestead in what you have troll on about

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  26. Chris

    @Mouse

    Firstly, LOL!!! Like all madmen you really believe you’re the sane one and the rest of the world is mental.

    Secondly, that wasn’t me at 3:17 although I agree with the sentiments expressed.

    “If you believe that Gove is a lame duck when he is a minister for the next five years whilst Balls is in opposition shows you are exactly one of the slavish, dogmatic and tribal Labour zombies that I describe.”

    Gove’s reputation has been severely tarnished not only by BSF and the massive exaggeration about academies and free market schools but also in the less well publicized decisions. Such as his “reforms” to A-Levels, like all his ideas they’re nothing new just a rehash of previous tory policy, which has already been denounced by academics at Cambridge. Gove is an arch-Cameroon and isn’t well liked by many tory backwoodsmen jealous of his rapid promotion, if his academies & free market schools don’t take off soon he’ll be moving on from education.

    “You lost the election Chris – look at Will’s graph – that’s what this is about. Your opinion and view is not shared by normal people Chris – that’s the point of Will’s article. You lost the election because you will not listen and you are still wrong. If you weren’t you’d still be in government. You’re not.”

    If you read the article, rather than just looking at the pictures, you’d realise its rather more nuanced than your childish bleating.

    “My “alternate reality” as you describe it is called normality – I’m in the majority Chris.”

    Well maybe you are in the majority of your secure unit but I bet the other window licker’s have grown bored of your political punditry and now just agree with everything you scream out.

    “Are you really not getting this or am I on Candid Camera or game for a laugh?”

    No, the camera in the corner of your padded cell is their your own safety.

    “Balls was useless in government (let me guess you liked Gordon Brown as well, not that you’ll answer – you people never do)”

    Yep, I thought GB was a good PM. Brown’s problem was he wasn’t a great communicator like Blair, if TB had been around in 2008/9 he’d have been all over the telly reassuring and soothing voters about the banking crisis. Brown should have done the big live from 10 Downing St address, showing who was in-charge and framing the debate.

    “and his “coherent economic argument” as you describe it was comprehensively undermined on the very 5Live debate I mentioned earlier – you remember the one where he said the governor of the Bank of England was wrong and he was right.”

    Erm, again your alternate reality has filtered that debate and given you a warped view of events. What I heard when listening to the debate was EdB being the one prepared to respond to the economic questions and counter the masochistic debt-is-evil arguments. Which I was impressed by even though I support EdM.

    And since when has King been the great economic genius? He fucked up badly at the start of the banking crisis by going on an insane rate rising spree before doing a complete 180 degree turn and slashing the rates.

    “Chris you lost the election and that doesn’t surprise me. Detachment from reality may be nice for you but every time you send posts to a blog remember to tell yourself this. We lost the election. We hold a minority view in this country. I may be wrong because we lost the election…”

    Yawn, I’m struggling to say something other than Fuck Off…

    “Does that not seem familiar to you Chris? That’s when Labour was a democratic party that cared about the poor.”

    Oh, I see, now I get it, you’re not a tory but an embittered trot? Or worse of all your probably a LibDem!

    “Sad that it has gone from this to people with your Stalinist views…”

    You’re in the alternate reality again.

  27. Matthew Bradford

    @peterdes Views on why Labour lost, party members vs general public http://is.gd/e5SVk – also see http://is.gd/e5T6M and http://is.gd/e5T7U

  28. The Election Blog

    @peterdes Views on why Labour lost, party members vs general public http://is.gd/e5SVk – also see http://is.gd/e5T6M and http://is.gd/e5T7U

  29. Gerry

    Demos Go Home

  30. Alex

    I think there was one main reason why Labour lost – Gordon Brown.

    Would any business or any football club or boy scout troop ever have someone as incompotent (and unlucky) as GB as their leader?

    Towards the end people felt sorry for him – particularly the pathos of him walking out of Downing Street with his wife and children.

    However – he should not have become PM and Labour should not have let him become PM. Labour does not deserve to be in power again until the current group of MPs that let him become PM have retired from the House of Commons and a new “untainted” group of MPs come in.

  31. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – I’m not too sure which Chris is posting here but to the second (funnier) one.

    Remember to tell yourself: We lost the election and perhaps my views are not shared by the majority of people in this country and is there is a reason for that?

    And I am now a Lib Dem – I think…

  32. Will Straw

    I’m not going to single anyone out but this thread has got a little bit personal for LFF’s tastes.

    We appreciate Billy’s kind remarks about our moderation policy and are proud that people with strongly held views of different political persuasions come here to join the debate. Let’s keep it that way and do so in a positive spirit.

    All the best,

    Will

    ps Anon – The LDs need all the help they can get at the moment so good luck to them and you!

  33. Chris Read

    The interesting bit: 59% of the public agree that “Most of the extra spending on the public services was wasted": http://bit.ly/cCjGLB

  34. James Dennis

    General public think that Labour overspent, but Labour don't. What a bunch of jackasses. http://bit.ly/c9PUrP

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