David Miliband ahead among Labour voters, poll suggests

Abbott doing relatively well ++ Rivals point out that voters are not the same as members.

The indomitable Paul Waugh has unearthed figures from the YouGov survey in the weekend's Sunday Times which he says show that David Miliband has "emerged as the front-runner among both voters and party activists".

From the blog:

A new poll also found that Mr Miliband was Londoners' favoured choice for the top job, with Diane Abbott second and his brother Ed trailing in third.

The YouGov survey put him on 22 per cent, Ms Abbott on 11 per cent, Ed Miliband on 9 per cent, Ed Balls on 3 per cent and Andy Burnham on 2 per cent.

Crucially, Miliband Senior was also ahead among Labour voters. He was on 29 per cent, with Mr Balls second on 13 per cent and Ed Miliband third on 12 per cent.

New figures obtained by the Standard also put the former foreign secretary ahead of his rivals in Constituency Labour Party nominations.

With only a week to go before constituency nominations close, he has 107 parties behind him, nearly as many as all his fellow contenders combined.

Brother Ed has 84 local parties backing him, Mr Burnham has 21, Ms Abbott 14 and Mr Balls just nine.

Labour will announce its new leader at its annual conference in September after a one-member, one-vote ballot of party members, union affiliates and MPs and MEPs.

The YouGov/SundayTimes poll found that Mr Miliband was ahead in every social class, gender, age group and region of the country.

Ms Abbott, who has a national profile because of her regular slot on BBC1's This Week programme, was second among virtually every group apart from Labour voters.

Mr Balls, who has been hitting the coalition government hard over the school buildings fiasco, appears to have been rewarded with a spike in support among Labour supporters.

The popularity of Miliband Senior among wider voters also suggests that he may do better than expected in the trade union membership section of the electoral college. However, brother Ed won the backing of the GMB last week and Mr Balls is also expected to do well among unions.

A spokeswoman for Mr Miliband said: "The number of CLP nominations we've garnered suggests that David is actually the grass roots' choice."

One source also said that the local party nominations suggested Mr Balls was "not really in the running among members", a claim his camp disputes.

Three striking elements to this: first, David Miliband is doing well among the grass roots for a man often dismissed as a "Blairite". Second, Diane Abbott is, as I predicted last month, apparently doing better than expected. And third, as supporters of "the two Eds" -- Miliband and Balls -- are pointing out in Westminster, this poll should be taken with a tiny pinch of salt, in that Labour voters, who do not have votes in this contest, are not the same as Labour members, who do.

UPDATE: Although it is true that "voters aren't members", as some rivals to the front-runner, David Miliband, have been pointing out, it is also worth emphasising that the 107 CLP nominations, as mentioned above, are highly significant. They, after all, are Labour members.

Look out for an exclusive interview package with all five candidates in this week's magazine, out on Thursday.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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The Women's March against Trump matters – but only if we keep fighting

We won’t win the battle for progressive ideas if we don’t battle in the first place.

Arron Banks, UKIP-funder, Brexit cheerleader and Gibraltar-based insurance salesman, took time out from Trump's inauguration to tweet me about my role in tomorrow's Women’s March Conservative values are in the ascendancy worldwide. Thankfully your values are finished. . . good”.

Just what about the idea of women and men marching for human rights causes such ill will? The sense it is somehow cheeky to say we will champion equality whoever is in office in America or around the world. After all, if progressives like me have lost the battle of ideas, what difference does it make whether we are marching, holding meetings or just moaning on the internet?

The only anti-democratic perspective is to argue that when someone has lost the argument they have to stop making one. When political parties lose elections they reflect, they listen, they learn but if they stand for something, they don’t disband. The same is true, now, for the broader context. We should not dismiss the necessity to learn, to listen, to reflect on the rise of Trump – or indeed reflect on the rise of the right in the UK  but reject the idea that we have to take a vow of silence if we want to win power again.

To march is not to ignore the challenges progressives face. It is to start to ask what are we prepared to do about it.

Historically, conservatives have had no such qualms about regrouping and remaining steadfast in the confidence they have something worth saying. In contrast, the left has always been good at absolving itself of the need to renew.

We spend our time seeking the perfect candidates, the perfect policy, the perfect campaign, as a precondition for action. It justifies doing nothing except sitting on the sidelines bemoaning the state of society.

We also seem to think that changing the world should be easier than reality suggests. The backlash we are now seeing against progressive policies was inevitable once we appeared to take these gains for granted and became arrogant and exclusive about the inevitability of our worldview. Our values demand the rebalancing of power, whether economic, social or cultural, and that means challenging those who currently have it. We may believe that a more equal world is one in which more will thrive, but that doesn’t mean those with entrenched privilege will give up their favoured status without a fight or that the public should express perpetual gratitude for our efforts via the ballot box either.  

Amongst the conferences, tweets and general rumblings there seem three schools of thought about what to do next. The first is Marxist  as in Groucho revisionism: to rise again we must water down our principles to accommodate where we believe the centre ground of politics to now be. Tone down our ideals in the hope that by such acquiescence we can eventually win back public support for our brand – if not our purpose. The very essence of a hollow victory.

The second is to stick to our guns and stick our heads in the sand, believing that eventually, when World War Three breaks out, the public will come grovelling back to us. To luxuriate in an unwillingness to see we are losing not just elected offices but the fight for our shared future.

But what if there really was a third way? It's not going to be easy, and it requires more than a hashtag or funny t-shirt. It’s about picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and starting to renew our call to arms in a way that makes sense for the modern world.

For the avoidance of doubt, if we march tomorrow and then go home satisfied we have made our point then we may as well not have marched at all. But if we march and continue to organise out of the networks we make, well, then that’s worth a Saturday in the cold. After all, we won’t win the battle of ideas, if we don’t battle.

We do have to change the way we work. We do have to have the courage not to live in our echo chambers alone. To go with respect and humility to debate and discuss the future of our communities and of our country.

And we have to come together to show there is a willingness not to ask a few brave souls to do that on their own. Not just at election times, but every day and in every corner of Britain, no matter how difficult it may feel.

Saturday is one part of that process of finding others willing not just to walk a mile with a placard, but to put in the hard yards to win the argument again for progressive values and vision. Maybe no one will show up. Maybe not many will keep going. But whilst there are folk with faith in each other, and in that alternative future, they’ll find a friend in me ready to work with them and will them on  and then Mr Banks really should be worried.