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In a Stats for Lefties article late last year, I wrote the following paragraph:
In the article, I argued that backing a 2nd referendum could lead to a large defeat for Labour; in addition, as readers may already know, I have previously opposed a second EU referendum on principle.“A Labour Party committed to overturning [Leave voters’] votes and keeping Britain in the EU against their wishes might well win a handful of votes from the Liberal Democrats, and take some seats from the SNP, but the price might well be losing to the Tories in dozens upon dozens of marginal seats. That doesn’t sound like a risk worth taking. Labour’s nuanced and unifying Brexit policy, that respects the referendum whilst reaching out to Remain voters, may well be the only way for the party to win in these marginal seats."
As you can see, in England, Labour's vote share fell by more on average in heavily Remain areas.
In Scotland, the Labour vote fell by a consistent amount (falling by 15-17pts) with no distinction (by and large) between more pro-Remain and more pro-Leave areas.
In Wales, Labour's vote declined by a consistent amount (falling by 10-13pts), with no distinction (by and large) between more pro-Remain and more pro-Leave areas. The only exception to this was Blaenau Gwent, which was the only council area to vote Leave with 60%+ of the vote in 2016 - in that council area, Labour's vote share fell by 22pts. This single data point should not be taken as indicative of a greater trend.
All of this tells us one thing: Remain voters are prepared to walk away from Labour, and without Remain voters, Labour cannot win. The most recent poll from Survation (the most accurate pollster in 2017) suggests that of the 12.9m people who voted Labour in 2017, 70% would vote Remain in an EU referendum tomorrow.
Labour’s average poll result amongst Remain voters in June was 30% (-25pts since 2017), whilst amongst Leavers it was 12% (-12pts).
The substantially higher decline amongst Remain voters is worrying, because Labour voters are overwhelmingly pro-Remain. Ultimately, losing more Remain voters than Leave voters means losing more voters overall, and we cannot afford to let that happen. Labour must give these voters what they want and oppose Brexit if it wants to win them back.
Amongst Remain voters, the results were:
Amongst Leave voters, the results were:
This same point is also demonstrated by a hypothetical Opinium poll which asked voters how they would vote in a referendum between “No Deal” and “Remain”. The poll showed that 52% would vote Remain, and 48% would vote for No Deal; excluding Don’t Knows, an astounding 92% of Leave voters said that they would vote for No Deal.
By contrast, a majority of Remain voters said that revoking Article 50, a long delay to negotiate a customs union, a referendum between May’s Deal and Remain and a Leave/Remain referendum would all be acceptable options.
In short, the only "Leave" option acceptable to Leave voters is No Deal, which Labour has been actively opposing and will never implement. Labour's own policy (a long delay to negotiate a customs union) is widely considered unacceptable by Leavers. Attempting to win over Leave voters will be incredibly hard, as the only way to win their support is to back No Deal - something that Labour must never do. Focusing on Leave voters at the expense of Remain voters is not a viable strategy for Labour.
Pro-Remain 25 (+12)
The results amongst Labour-held target seats where the Tories are in 2nd were as follows (with changes from 2016):
Pro-Remain 21 (+11)