Simple graphic shows #Corbyn right on the money (again) with #Art50 position

The media seem determined to prove its ‘Westminster bubble’ credentials today, as well as their enslavement to the right wing agenda, by continuing to focus on Labour’s supposed troubles in the Brexit/Article 50 situation – and, of course, using that to make snide or obvious digs at Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.

The ‘Westminster bubble’ is the phenomenon of editors, reporters, pundits – and most politicians – assuming that the whole country reflects a small area around Parliament and that what applies or is perceived in that small area is valid across the country.

And, as any of us know who don’t live in that one, small area, it’s nonsense.

Saying it is one thing, but a picture paints a thousand words.

Jeremy Corbyn has an impeccable track record of being on the right side of major issues, whether that’s military action in Syria, Libya or Iraq, the fact that austerity is a political choice, talking to ‘terrorists’ in Northern Ireland before a peace deal ever looked likely or a host of things in between.

And a simple graphic – lovingly prepared with blood, sweat and tears by this writer (with a little help!) – shows that, once again and in spite of the sneers of the blinkered, he has his approach to this week’s votes/debates on the triggering of ‘Article 50’ to formally start the UK’s exit from the European Union exactly right.

That ‘simple graphic’ is the last in this article, but to best understand it I need to show you two other, equally simple, graphics first.

The first graphic shows Labour’s seats in England and Wales in dark red and the party’s target seats for the next General Election – the seats Labour can realistically aim to win in order to beat the Tories – in light red:


Because the UK’s population is concentrated in urban areas, the red areas don’t look large but they do cover a large part of the UK’s population.

The next graphic shows the areas that voted leave and remain in the referendum. Leave is in blue, remain in orange:


Again, the blue area is huge, but because densely-populated urban areas tended to vote remain, the result was quite close at 52%-48%.

And now the key graphic – which is just the above two maps superimposed, to create a new set of colours:


And it’s here that the wisdom – in fact, not just the wisdom but the absolute necessity – of Corbyn’s decision to impose a 3-line whip on his MPs is seen.

The dark purple areas are current Labour seats that voted leave. The mid purple are target areas for Labour that voted leave.

The dark orange areas are current Labour areas that voted remain; the mid-orange areas are Labour target areas that voted remain.

Pale orange and pale purple are areas that Labour would not realistically look to win.

A quick glance shows that dark purple and mid purple ‘leave’ areas hugely predominate over dark/mid orange ‘remain’.

The stark fact is that, while 75% of Tory-held constituencies voted leave, 70% of Labour-held constituencies also did.

Strong Labour areas that voted remain are still likely to stay Labour, because they’re extremely unlikely to give the time of day to Tories, let alone UKIP. Labour target seats that voted leave will not listen to a Labour party they think sneered at their referendum choice. Target seats that voted remain might not turn to Labour given Corbyn’s position on Article 50 – but there are hardly any of them compared to target/leave seats.

In other words, if Corbyn wants to retain current Labour seats and win enough of Labour’s target seats to dislodge the Tories, he cannot afford to follow the ‘Westminster bubble’ line or the ‘rebel’ Labour line of a pointless protest vote against triggering Article 50 and he must (as he genuinely does) respect the democratic outcome of the referendum. If he were perceived as disrespecting the wishes and feelings of the vast majority of those who vote – or might vote – Labour, it would sink Labour’s electoral prospects beyond trace.

And, that being the case, all he can do is play the hand he has been dealt in order to try to get the best possible Brexit for both leavers and remainers. Those who claim otherwise and cling to forlorn hopes of somehow preventing Brexit altogether are living in well-meaning but deluded electoral cloud-cuckoo land at best, and at worst, arrogant anti-democrats who hold working class people in contempt.

Voting against the Bill – especially at this early stage when nobody knows what amendments can be achieved – is not a noble, principle, moral stand, a heroic defeat.

On the contrary, to do so would be reckless, short-sighted and unthinkably irresponsible – because it would be to impose the calamity of Conservative government for years, even decades, on the UK’s 99% who are already groaning, crushed, under the burdens of Tory greed, stupidity and malevolence.

Remind me: just who is it again that’s meant to be serious about power and who’s meant to be the hopeless idealist?

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  1. I appreciate your hard work and agree with your opinion on this, BUT the *Non Target Leave* and the *Non target Remain* need to be substantially differently coloured- tinted whatever- its far to close and not easily differentiable at the moment

    1. It might be your screen rendering – one is pale lilac and one pale orange. I appreciate your point, but adding more strong colours would make the image *very* hard to interpret.

  2. Meaningless garbage. So you did colouring in at school. If Corbyn had the backbone to act as leader of the opposition and oppose the Tory Bill, who knows how the colours would change in Labour favour by the next General Election. What a waste of space that man is.

    1. So you’d prefer him to gamble everything on stuff that may or may not happen, rather than act strategically based on known facts – all for the sake of a meaningless gesture doomed to certain defeat anyway? Wow.

  3. JC may have been on the right side in the past, but that was driven by conviction, not political expediency. This is just political machination of the kind he apparently rejects. He could have made an excellent case for the Labour party standing on a remain ticket. Many Brexiteers might be reconsidering their choice in the aftermath of the referendum particularly since it will involve getting into bed with Trump and putting us at his mercy. Who are we kidding- special trade deal with a ruthless entrepreneur who wants to increase his country’s protectionism? Pathetic. And I was, maybe still am, a Corbynite but sorely disillusioned

    1. He could have done that – and Labour would be slaughtered for it and lose anyway. Principles and political nous don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  4. Unfortunately in the process he is losing his hard urban core supporters to LD and Green. Ohand guess who is more likely to vote regularly and often.
    Then again maybe not so unfortunate. If you appeal to UKIP voters you are on the wrong side of the argument.

    1. You missed the point. It’s not about appealing to UKIP voters – it’s about respecting the huge nos of Labour voters who also voted leave

  5. One flaw in this argument is that while most Labour seats voted Leave, that doesn’t necessarily mean that most Labour supporters in those seats voted Leave. The Leave vote in these working-class areas was largely down to ‘kippers, working-class Tories (more “conservative” and less “capitalist” than middle-class Tories, and therefore more pro-Brexit) and General Election non-voters.

      1. See my explanation for this point below. It was likely the Labour vote for 90% Remain in the South and 50% in the nroth leading to the 63% average Labour Remain vote overall. I am chasing polling companies to dig through their data on this

  6. This is an an absolutely correct analysis of the electoral geography. Three things follow from this:

    1. The question for us all is as follows: is what we are seeing in the maps above a political realignment that for all our effort is going to happen anyway and by 2020 or 2025 many areas will vote for party the way they voted in the referendum, which could see Tories gaining in the north (the UKIP threat is more to let Tories in rather than win seats themselves) and Labour (and some Lib Dems) gaining in the south. Polling is increasingly showing that sort of shift:

    a) Labour is more remain – up from 64% to 70% since June and the Tory vote is more leave – up 58% up to 65%

    b) voters are putting their view on Brexit above their party position which of course also explains recent party polling numbers, which have little to do with the ridiculous media obsession with personality and much more to do with the Tories opportunistically making the most of the result and their position in government.

    2. Labour faces as you say the challenge that 70% of our seats are Leave , yet 64% of our vote was Remain. This is probably because in London and the South Labour voters voted 90% Remain whereas the Labour vote up north was more 50% Remain. I am pressing polling companies for more data on this EU referendum distribution of the vote by party so we understand how this is changing

    3. The other challenge is all the very accurate polls on the leadership election (which no one disagrees with) also showed that 91% of Labour members voted Remain. This is easily shown by the fact that conference voted 99% for Remain in 2015; the NEC was unanimous Remain; all the big TU’s backed it, and every CLP in the country expressed support for campaigning Remain except mine which agreed to actually stay neutral. I know of no other CLP which did that!:) At the same time Momentum also voted 67% to 14% for campaigning for Remain and I had in advance expected their numbers to be slightly lower than the overall membership number of 91%. Thus it is inevitable that many members will be dismayed by the tactical decision we are taking on this issue, which is why we currently see membership either stable or slightly dropping, but definitely not rising upwards.

    This all illustrates why the realignment point I make above is going to be a big driver of politics over the next decade. This is probably not what any of us were expecting when we saw all the surge of excitement and membership gain in the summer of 2015. Let’s hope we can overcome the challenge

  7. Can I ask what you think this all means for Labour and Corbyn in Scotland/Wales/NI? Genuine question – I shared this and that’s all I’m being asked! TIA 😊

    1. Labour in Scotland is out of Corbyn’s hands while Ms Dugdale is in charge. It’s a disaster up there, but not of his making and he’d be crazy to lose England by worrying about Scotland for the moment.

      Wales voted to leave overall, so generally the same would apply there as to England. Northern Ireland, for obscure historical reasons I’m not expert in, doesn’t stand any Labour MPs, so again in electoral terms he can’t let them be a big factor in the current battle, though I’m sure he wants the best for all 4 home nations – just got to win the current fight first.

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