Just minutes before the crunch Shadow Cabinet meeting about the Labour stance on air strikes in Syria, the party has released figures showing an overwhelming majority oppose UK bombing in Syria. This is the statement:
75 per cent of Labour Party members responding to weekend consultation oppose UK bombing in Syria
A sample of this weekend's consultation of Labour Party members, carried out in response to an email from Jeremy Corbyn, issued Friday 27th November, has shown that 75 per cent of Labour party members who have responded oppose UK bombing in Syria.
107,875 responses were received of which 64,771 were confirmed as full individual Labour Party members. The remainder included affiliated supporters and registered supporters.
Random sampling, of full individual Labour Party members who responded to the email, has shown:
75 per cent are against UK bombing in Syria
13 per cent are for UK bombing in Syria
11 per cent are undecided on the issue.
The party says the sample was 1,900 members.
There are two questions about this. The first is how the membership were consulted, given not all received the email asking for their opinions. If only pro-Corbyn members received an email, or if anyone could fill in the form asking for feedback then the party has not received a representative sample of Labour views. And the sample itself that the party has chosen to examine is random, not representative. The second is whether MPs, who are elected by the general public, should pay greater regard to their members, or to their voters, or to their own presumably sound judgement that voters have elected and pay them to exercise on their behalf.
For Jeremy Corbyn, the answer is that the members are the most important because they have given him his huge mandate, and even if the general electorate and an MP’s sound judgement are more important, no MP really wants to get into a collision with his or her party membership if they can really help it. But this collision is exactly what is being set up, and almost certainly what will be presented to Shadow Cabinet members very shortly.