Today's Datablast: What would Jesus do? We have answers. Photo: Getty.
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We think Jesus would do what we would do

Many of us are unsure, but when we do offer an opinion of Jesus it is slightly coloured by our own views.

For more political data, explore May2015.com, where this article originally appeared. 

What would Jesus do? YouGov have polled the public.

He would want open borders and to renationalise the railways, but be undecided about gay marriage and oppose the death penalty. But many of us are unsure. At least a third of voters – and sometimes more than half – can’t muster an answer to these hypotheticals.

Do these questions also reveal something about us as voters? While people seem to mainly answer the questions without regard to their political beliefs, there are clear divides between voters of different parties. The poll shows what we might expect – our view of Jesus’ opinions is partly determined by our own.

Take immigration.

A third of us think Jesus would want “no restrictions at all” – open borders! Even the Green Party don’t think that. Only 1 in 20 of us think Jesus would want no immigration at all. Another 10 per cent think he would want tighter limits.

But that varies greatly between the parties. A third of Ukippers think Jesus would want no immigration or tighter borders, but only 6 per cent of Lib Dems agree. (As always with individual polls, we are looking at small sample sizes with high margins of error.)

What about gay marriage? It’s another issue that divides the liberal and the conservative, and again each think Jesus would tend towards their view.

Only a fifth of Ukippers think Jesus would support gay marriage, while around half of Labour and Lib Dem voters think he would.

As a country we can’t decide. Just over a third of voters say Jesus would be supportive, just under a third say he wouldn’t. (This echoes a “Jesus survey” YouGov ran of American voters in July.)

The even more startling differences are by age – just as they are on the issue itself. Here is how opinions of Jesus’ view on gay marriage differ by age group:

We can find a similar story in the rest of the data. Only 30 per cent of Tories think Jesus would want to renationalise the railways, but closer to a half of Labour and Lib Dem voters think so. And a third of Ukippers think Jesus would favour the death penalty, while fewer than a sixth of mainstream voters think he would.

But we can over-emphasise this bias. Even Tory voters agree Jesus would be three times more likely to support than oppose renationalising the railways. And Ukip voters, who are vehemently pro-death penalty, are divided on whether Jesus would agree with them.

Finally, how does religion affect people’s views? The only significant difference YouGov pick up is on gay marriage: 40 of those without a religion think Jesus would support gay marriage; 31 per cent of Christians think he wouldn’t.

What would Jesus do? If we offer an opinion, it’s likely to be shaped by our own.

Explore May2015.com.

May2015 is the New Statesman's new elections site. Explore it for data, interviews and ideas on the general election.

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Labour's establishment suspects a Momentum conspiracy - they're right

Bernie Sanders-style organisers are determined to rewire the party's machine.  

If you wanted to understand the basic dynamics of this year’s Labour leadership contest, Brighton and Hove District Labour Party is a good microcosm. On Saturday 9 July, a day before Angela Eagle was to announce her leadership bid, hundreds of members flooded into its AGM. Despite the room having a capacity of over 250, the meeting had to be held in three batches, with members forming an orderly queue. The result of the massive turnout was clear in political terms – pro-Corbyn candidates won every position on the local executive committee. 

Many in the room hailed the turnout and the result. But others claimed that some in the crowd had engaged in abuse and harassment.The national party decided that, rather than first investigate individuals, it would suspend Brighton and Hove. Add this to the national ban on local meetings and events during the leadership election, and it is easy to see why Labour seems to have an uneasy relationship with mass politics. To put it a less neutral way, the party machine is in a state of open warfare against Corbyn and his supporters.

Brighton and Hove illustrates how local activists have continued to organise – in an even more innovative and effective way than before. On Thursday 21 July, the week following the CLP’s suspension, the local Momentum group organised a mass meeting. More than 200 people showed up, with the mood defiant and pumped up.  Rather than listen to speeches, the room then became a road test for a new "campaign meetup", a more modestly titled version of the "barnstorms" used by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Activists broke up into small groups to discuss the strategy of the campaign and then even smaller groups to organise action on a very local level. By the end of the night, 20 phonebanking sessions had been planned at a branch level over the following week. 

In the past, organising inside the Labour Party was seen as a slightly cloak and dagger affair. When the Labour Party bureaucracy expelled leftwing activists in past decades, many on went further underground, organising in semi-secrecy. Now, Momentum is doing the exact opposite. 

The emphasis of the Corbyn campaign is on making its strategy, volunteer hubs and events listings as open and accessible as possible. Interactive maps will allow local activists to advertise hundreds of events, and then contact people in their area. When they gather to phonebank in they will be using a custom-built web app which will enable tens of thousands of callers to ring hundreds of thousands of numbers, from wherever they are.

As Momentum has learned to its cost, there is a trade-off between a campaign’s openness and its ability to stage manage events. But in the new politics of the Labour party, in which both the numbers of interested people and the capacity to connect with them directly are increasing exponentially, there is simply no contest. In order to win the next general election, Labour will have to master these tactics on a much bigger scale. The leadership election is the road test. 

Even many moderates seem to accept that the days of simply triangulating towards the centre and getting cozy with the Murdoch press are over. Labour needs to reach people and communities directly with an ambitious digital strategy and an army of self-organising activists. It is this kind of mass politics that delivered a "no" vote in Greece’s referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout last summer – defying pretty much the whole of the media, business and political establishment. 

The problem for Corbyn's challenger, Owen Smith, is that many of his backers have an open problem with this type of mass politics. Rather than investigate allegations of abuse, they have supported the suspension of CLPs. Rather than seeing the heightened emotions that come with mass mobilisations as side-effects which needs to be controlled, they have sought to joins unconnected acts of harassment, in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. The MP Ben Bradshaw has even seemed to accuse Momentum of organising a conspiracy to physically attack Labour MPs.

The real conspiracy is much bigger than that. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving, enthusiastic and determined, into the Labour party. These people, and their ability to convince the communities of which they are a part, threaten Britain’s political equilibrium, both the Conservatives and the Labour establishment. When the greatest hope for Labour becomes your greatest nightmare, you have good call to feel alarmed.