Exclusive: Compass members endorse Ed Miliband

Miliband tops ballot of Compass members, with Diane Abbott in second place.

In the first indication of how Labour members might vote in the leadership contest, Compass members, in a secret ballot, have overwhelmingly endorsed Ed Miliband to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

More of a surprise, perhaps, is that Diane Abbott, often regarded as no more than a maverick, came second in the vote, further indication of how the party and its members are turning left following the failures of New Labour in its terminal phase.

Earlier today, as my colleague George Eaton reported, David Miliband's campaign released details of a YouGov poll, commissioned by them, showing that voters see David as the most credible alternative leader to David Cameron. But the people surveyed are not Labour members and David Miliband is a former foreign secretary, and thus much better known than his rivals.

In the Compass poll, David Miliband, who is sometimes unfairly caricatured as a Blairite, finished third. Ed Balls finished last, even though he has been widely praised for his expertise as an economist and for his attacks on the coalition's deficit reduction programme by, among others, Irwin Stelzer and David Blanchflower, both writing in the New Statesman magazine, and Martin Wolf, writing in the Financial Times.

Neal Lawson, the chair of Compass, said: "This overwhelming result shows that amongst centre-left party members and activists Ed Miliband is the clear choice for leader. It is time to break with the now electorally disastrous politics of New Labour so that first the head and body of the party can be reunited and then Labour with the country."

Despite Jon Cruddas, the Dagenham MP who is close to the Compass group, having endorsed David Miliband (to the dismay of many), it's possible that Ed Miliband may now emerge as the figure around whom the pluralist left of the party will gather.

Here is the result in full:

Ed Miliband: 55%

Diane Abbott: 19%

David Miliband: 12%

Andy Burnham: 4%

Ed Balls: 3%

None of the above: 7%

Jason Cowley is editor of the New Statesman. He has been the editor of Granta, a senior editor at the Observer and a staff writer at the Times.

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.