Labour members who joined the party after the last general election represent a “leftist vanguard” and are more likely to come from the “educated left behinds”, a new report says .
New Labour activists regard themselves as significantly more left-wing than their pre-2015 counterparts.
However, when policy ideas are compared, the two groups think quite similarly, with over 90 per cent of both groups favouring redistribution of income, agreeing that “ordinary” people do not get a fair share, agreeing that austerity has gone too far and that management try to get the better of employees.
The new members are more likely to be “educated left behinds”, graduates who are earning less than the average salary of £25,000, with 41 per cent of old members and 51 per cent of new of this group.
The research from the ESRC (economic and social research council) party members project reveals that new members are likely to be much more socially liberal but both groups view immigration positively.
The report also says that newer members are much less likely to go leafletting, put up an election poster or go canvassing – with only 9.3 per cent of new members having canvassed compared to 35.7 per cent of older. However, new members who have also joined Momentum are much more likely to have similar participation rates to the old members – indeed more Momentum members have attended a political meeting than old members. Both new and old members are similarly likely to engage in online political activities.
The LSE blogpost summarised the researchers’ findings, saying: “In short, the Corbyn leadership has attracted similar people in terms of age, education and occupational class to those who were Labour members in 2015, although new members are slightly less well-off and more gender balanced than the past. New members are similarly left-wing on the state-market dimension, although they are more likely to regard themselves as further left and are certainly somewhat more socially liberal than older members. Although they tend to participate mainly online and not so much offline, this is less true for those who are also members of Momentum. Clearly, the new members are confident that the new leadership respects them and this is something that distinguishes Corbyn from most other politicians in their eyes. Finally, there is some evidence that the educated left-behinds might have been particularly moved to place new hope in Corbyn. How long they keep the faith, and what that means for the Labour Party, remains to be seen.”