On Tuesday, Momentum published the results of a poll of its members’ opinions on Brexit and Labour’s priorities. That evening, the Guardian published a headline about those results that was entirely false:
The paper later withdrew the false headline and amended the article to one more accurate – without noting the change – but the original could still be seen in the page address:
But the emphasis in the headline was still based on a cherry-picked figure and ignored one which had equal support from the Momentum members who responded – and far greater significance than merely voting down a Tory deal that will inevitably be dire.
92% of respondents also said that all Labour MPs should prioritise forcing a general election – above everything else, including a so-called people’s vote and including overturning Brexit.
Far from showing strong support for a fresh EU referendum, the poll showed that Momentum members fully recognise the far greater importance of a change of government – exactly the priority of Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligent handling of the Brexit issue.
This will send – or should – cold shivers down the spine of any Labour rebels considering supporting Theresa May’s eventual excuse for a Brexit deal in order to undermine the party’s leadership.
Even a pro-EU base like members of Momentum sees through any attempt to cast such a rebellion as the right thing to do or a matter of principle – only 325 out of some forty thousand Momentum members responded to say MPs’ opinion was relevant enough for them to be allowed a ‘free vote’ rather than following the whip.
There’s more where that came from…
But there was even further endorsement for Corbyn’s and Labour’s approach to the Brexit issue and the political insight that underpins it.
Turnout in the poll was low – around 16% of Momentum’s members – even though voting was electronic and needed only a couple of minutes to complete. Of those who did vote, barely over half – 53% – favoured committing to a new referendum now.
53% of the 16% who voted. The idea of committing to a new referendum could only generate support – from Momentum members, surely one of the UK’s most pro-EU constituencies – of just over half of respondents, while around 84% did not even participate.
If the level of support for a commitment to a new EU vote among the low number of Momentum members who turned out was only just over half, then in traditional Labour voters in ‘heartland’ constituencies, many of whom voted to leave the EU, support for the idea would be far lower.
The same would also apply among potential swing voters. In last year’s general election, Labour far exceeded the expectations of pundits in its ability to attract leave-supporters it had lost to the Tories and UKIP in 2015 back into the fold.
The hardcore, mostly-centrist ‘stop Brexit’ faction claims that a Labour commitment to a new referendum would result in a surge of support for Labour. But Momentum’s results show there isn’t even a surge of support for it among Momentum members.
The Momentum poll was not scientific. Geography and demography were not factored in, for example. Nonetheless centrists – and a few in Momentum – have been trying to cast the results as supporting their claim that Labour should commit to a new EU referendum. The Guardian’s fake news headline was barely more blatant.
But the results actually suggest the opposite – and represent a ringing, continued endorsement of the approach taken by the Labour leadership.
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