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.
Dan Kitwood/Getty
Show Hide image

I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.