Labour Party councillors back challenger Smith

Published: 25 July 2016 at 14:00

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But new poll shows majority think members and supporters are behind Corbyn

A new survey indicates that Labour Party councillors are overwhelmingly backing Owen Smith in the leadership election.

The Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University polled 350 Labour Party councillors across the 250 most marginal parliamentary constituencies in the UK (the 125 seats Labour won and the 125 Labour lost by the lowest margins in the 2015 election).

The survey, carried out between 21-25 July, found that 60% of councillors are backing Smith, with 28% likely to vote for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and 11% undecided.  

And amongst the councillors, 65% believe the MP for Pontypridd gives the Labour Party the best chance of winning their constituency at the next General Election, compared to 23% who think it is best to stick with Corbyn.

However, the councillors think the Labour leader has the strong backing of members and registered supporters within their ward, with 38% believing the majority of their local members will vote for Corbyn (compared to 28% voting for Smith) and 53% thinking the majority of their local registered supporters are likely to back Corbyn (10% Smith). 

Dr Richard Carr, Lecturer in History and Politics at Anglia Ruskin, said: 

“Our data suggests that Owen Smith’s appeal reaches beyond the Westminster bubble and into committee rooms and Labour council meetings across Britain.

“But it may not matter.  If Owen Smith is unable to convince a sizeable chunk of £25 registered supporters that he is the man for them, his campaign looks likely to be sunk. 
“He might be seen by Labour Party councillors as best placed to connect with the wider electorate and challenge Theresa May, but he’ll need a strong change in the winds to get past Jeremy Corbyn right now.”

Those polled represent a random sample of councillors in these constituencies.  Any views expressed are those of the participants, and do not necessarily represent those of the Labour History Research Unit or Anglia Ruskin University. 

The full results are available here