Polling Station. Photo: the descrier Polling Station. Photo: the descrier

Polls don’t always tell the truth, but their current interpretation in the media is deliberately hiding it, argues Shabbir Lakha

Analysis by Counterfire has brought to light just how skewed polls relating to Brexit are. The study of 29 polls conducted by YouGov since July 2016 shows that in 26 of 29 of the polls, the majority of respondents voted Remain in the EU Referendum, and in the 3 that weren’t majority Remain, the percentage voting Remain was still higher than in the actual referendum.

These polls are constantly being used by the liberal media in daily articles with slightly different headlines factually stating that Labour members back a second referendum, in that second referendum they would vote Remain, and therefore Labour members are furious with Corbyn.

One of the recent polls which was used for this latest declaration that Labour members overwhelmingly support a second referendum has shown just how disingenuous the reporting has been.

The study in question is a poll of 1,034 Labour members – less than 0.2% of Labour members, in which less than 10% of respondents voted Leave. But even then, the actual results of the poll that were conveniently left out of the reports tell us this:

  • 84% support a general election in the event that May’s deal is voted down
  • 58% think Labour in government could secure a better deal
  • 65% think Jeremy Corbyn is doing a good job
  • 47% support Labour’s current stance with 29% opposing.

So while the reports frame the results as 79% support a second referendum, they don’t make it clear that 84% support a general election, and that the questions are separate which means that there is no evidence to suggest those who said they’d back a second referendum wouldn’t rather have a general election. The reports also cynically suggest opposition to a no-deal Brexit is opposition to Brexit altogether.

What also got left out, is that in all the questions, respondents that backed Owen Smith in 2016 were always higher in percentage in backing a second referendum and opposing Corbyn, highlighting how a second referendum is being used by the Labour right to undermine Corbyn.

Comparing reports to the questions in the poll it becomes clear that there is a cynical conflation of opposition to a no-deal Brexit with opposition to Brexit altogether. It’s the same tactic that Theresa May has used to scare MPs into backing her deal – a tactic that seems to be failing, especially after her defeat in the Commons on Tuesday over the government’s tax powers in the event of no-deal.

So what do the polls actually tell us? Mapping all the polls only tells us that the country remains divided – the polls are largely in the same place they were in 2016 – showing a marginal majority for Remain. If there was a second referendum, a Remain victory is hardly a foregone conclusion, and even if Remain won it would likely be by as small a margin as the 2016 referendum.

As for Labour members, the bottom line is that the vast majority of its 500,000+ members support Jeremy Corbyn and want a general election as a way out of the crisis. The polls with tiny, skewed samples, tell us nothing and are only used by the Labour right and the commentariat to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.

Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.

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