Labour’s volunteer army would grow in a snap election, Momentum poll finds

The size of Labour’s volunteer base would grow if a snap general election were called, according to a Momentum poll of over 1,500 party members.

Asked about their campaigning activities in 2017, 64% of respondents confirmed they went canvassing during the last snap election.

But a greater proportion – 71% of those who answered – said they would canvass if an election were held this year, while a further 17% indicated that they would consider doing so.

The left-wing group, which grew out of Jeremy Corbyn’s first leadership campaign and now has over 40,000 members itself, suggested the research showed there could be a 38% increase in the number of Labour volunteers for a 2019 campaign.

John Taylor, a member of Momentum’s national coordinating group, commented: “These results show Labour members are ready to kick into action during a general election and that many new members who haven’t canvassed before want to come out and knock on doors for Labour.”

Of those who went canvassing for Labour during the last election campaign, when Corbyn’s party surprised critics by gaining 30 parliamentary seats, 88% said they would knock on doors again and only 1% told Momentum they would not.

A Momentum source pointed out that the findings have produced evidence opposing claims that Labour members are disillusioned and leaving the party over its position on Brexit.

Some anti-Brexit campaigners have alleged that hundreds of thousands of members have walked away from the party, though Labour denies such large figures, while others say its pro-EU activist base is unenthusiastic on the doorstep.

Michael Chessum, who worked on Corbyn’s 2016 leadership campaign and is now an organiser of grassroots group Another Europe is Possible, has argued: “Labour’s resistance to resistance to backing a fresh referendum, despite the overwhelming view of its members, has undeniably prompted some to leave”.

But it has been noted – by commentators including Mark Wallace at Tory-supporting website ConservativeHome – that Labour is still three times the size of the Conservative Party.

Commenting on the poll results, NCG member Taylor added: “Contrast Labour’s army of volunteers with the Tory party who have moribund local associations, less than a quarter of Labour’s membership and receive more money from dead members than they do from the living, and you see one party in rude health and another in terminal decline.

“At the last election tens of thousands of Labour members knocking on doors in marginal constituencies swung key seats for Labour. These results suggest that volunteer army will be even larger next time around.”

The online poll, held between 29th January and 5th February, was taken by 1,557 Momentum members.

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