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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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.