Extend free movement and give all UK residents equal voting rights, say LabourList readers

Sienna Rodgers

LabourList readers believe the Labour Party should support extending freedom of movement and awarding all UK residents equal voting rights regardless of nationality, our latest survey has found.

Labour conference earlier this month voted in favour of a policy motion that advocated maintaining and extending freedom of movement as part of a range of radical immigration policy pledges.

The proposal, promoted by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, also called on the next Labour government to implement nondiscriminatory national voting rights – giving non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens living in the UK the right to vote in all elections.

Although it was passed almost unanimously by delegates, Diane Abbott soon after appeared to confirm that Labour’s immigration policy hadn’t changed and the party still backed a “new system of work visas” as part of “a fair and just immigration system”.

65.7% of the 5,165 readers who took part in our most recent survey said they thought Labour should support extending free movement, while almost 74% backed equal voting rights. The rest offered a combination of ‘No’ and ‘Don’t know’ answers.

But asked whether Labour should be able to bypass conference in the creation of its manifestos, LabourList readers were more likely to back the leadership.

Currently, the Labour Party is not strictly bound by policy passed at its annual conference. It is the ‘Clause V’ meeting – held once an election is called – that decides which parts of the party programme are included in the party manifesto.

A total of just over 46% agreed that either the content of the manifesto should be decided ultimately by the Clause V meeting (chosen by 35.3%) or that the party should respect conference votes without a rule change (10.9%).

Under 32% said the party should be compelled to include in its manifesto either all policies approved by conference or those passed with two-thirds majority. Excluding ‘Don’t know’ responses, a majority of respondents therefore did not endorse a change in the rules.

On the subject of suffrage, LabourList readers overwhelmingly said they believed that those aged 16 and 17 should be awarded the right to vote, with 80% in favour of the move and only 15.3% opposed.

Respondents to the survey also told us that they agreed with Labour’s current position on a vote of no confidence.

The party has said it will hold off on any formal attempt to oust Boris Johnson until the Prime Minister has requested another Brexit extension or passed a deal, in order not to fall into no deal by mistake.

50.2% of LabourList readers approve of that decision, according to the survey. Just over 32% disagreed and said Labour should table a motion of no confidence this week, either during Tory conference (20.7%) or afterwards (11.6%). Only 4% thought the party should not table one at all.

On Brexit, again LabourList readers were inclined to back the Labour leadership’s position – though by a narrower margin.

48.7% believed Labour was “right not to say in a general election campaign whether it would back Remain or its own deal”, while 43% indicated that they thought it was the wrong move.

At Labour conference, delegates approved the Brexit proposal favoured by Jeremy Corbyn, which will see the party wait until after the election of a Labour government to decide its position in a fresh EU referendum.

For the second time since LabourList surveys were rebooted, John McDonnell topped the poll of favourite shadow cabinet members.

As with the last survey conducted, Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry – both Remain backers – made up the rest of the top three.

Angela Rayner jumped up the rankings this month, going from the seventh most popular choice to fourth. The Shadow Education Secretary recently announced plans to integrate private schools in the state sector.


1. Should Labour table a motion of no confidence in the government this week?

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  1. No – Labour should wait until Boris Johnson has requested another extension or passed a deal – 50.2% (2,645)
  2. Yes – Labour should table it during Tory conference – 20.7% (1,070)
  3. Don’t know/Other – 12.5% (646)
  4. Yes – Labour should table it after Tory conference – 11.6% (599)
  5. No – Labour should not table one at all – 4% (205)

2. Do you believe the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16?

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  1. Yes – 80% (4,131)
  2. No – 15.3% (792)
  3. Don’t know – 4.7% (242)

3. Do you think Labour should award equal voting rights to all UK residents, including non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens?

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  1. Yes – 73.9% (3,776)
  2. No – 17.3% (882)
  3. Don’t know – 8.9% (454)

4. Do you think Labour should support extending freedom of movement?

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  1. Yes – 65.7% (3,391)
  2. No – 21.4% (1,107)
  3. Don’t know – 12.9% (667)

5. Currently, the Labour Party is not strictly bound by policy passed at conference. Should the party rules be changed?

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  1. No – the content of the manifesto should be decided ultimately by the Clause V meeting – 35.3% (1,822)
  2. Yes – Labour should include all policies approved by conference with a two-thirds majority or more in the next manifesto – 27.6% (1,423)
  3. Yes – Labour should include all policies approved by conference in the next manifesto – 15% (774)
  4. None of the above/don’t know – 11.3% (584)
  5. No – the party should respect conference votes without a rule change – 10.9% (562)

6. Is Labour right not to say in a general election campaign whether it would back Remain or its own deal?

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  1. Yes – 48.7% (2,515)
  2. No – 43% (2,219)
  3. Don’t know – 8.3% (431)

7. Who are your top three favourite shadow cabinet members?

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The top 15 are listed below.

  1. John McDonnell – 2,997
  2. Keir Starmer – 2,487
  3. Emily Thornberry – 1,400
  4. Angela Rayner – 1,323
  5. Rebecca Long-Bailey – 1,254
  6. Tom Watson – 1,172
  7. Diane Abbott – 758
  8. Barry Gardiner – 537
  9. Richard Burgon – 524
  10. Shami Chakrabarti – 516
  11. Dawn Butler – 489
  12. Jon Ashworth – 355
  13. Ian Lavery – 280
  14. Dan Carden – 146
  15. Andy McDonald – 142

The survey was open from 3pm on Sunday 29th September until 3pm on Tuesday 1st October. The results are unweighted and from a self-selected sample of readers. Thank you to all 5,165 readers who took part.

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