When seven MPs announced yesterday that they were leaving Labour to form a new centrist faction called The Independent Group, talk soon turned to what impact it could have on the other parties’ electoral chances. Corbyn’s allies were quick to warn that it could lead to ten years of Tory rule, while Conservative MPs were rumoured to be considering joining.
New polling conducted yesterday though by Survation for the Daily Mail suggests that it is Labour who should be most worried by the new party’s success. When asked in the survey who they would vote for if there was a general election tomorrow, 8 per cent of the respondents opted for ‘A new centrist party opposed to Brexit’ if one existed. If these results materialised in a general election, this would make the Independence Group the third largest party, behind the Conservatives on 39 per cent and Labour on 34 per cent. Revealingly, the majority of the new party’s vote share has come from Labour, causing the party to fall into second place, five points behind the Conservative Party.
Even more worryingly for Labour, when the respondents were asked who they thought best represents the people of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour or this new group of independent MPs, 23 per cent opted for Labour, and 40 per cent the new group.
There are, of course, obvious problems with polling people about the new group at this stage. This is only one poll, the party has only existed for one day, and its makeup could change if more MPs defect to the group from either the Tories or Labour. Similarly, a general election could be either weeks or years away, and there is no guarantee that the Independence Group would field candidates in every seat in the country when an election does come.
Even so, the findings of the poll show that the new group’s immediate threat is to Labour, not the Tories in terms of electoral share. And it will only increase the fears of those in the Labour party, that they are heading for a repeat of the 1983 general election, when Labour blamed the SDP for costing them enough votes to guarantee a Conservative victory.