Is the tide beginning to turn against the coalition?

Labour ahead in two consecutive polls for the first time since 2007.

The latest YouGov poll will encourage the thought in Labour circles that the tide is beginning to turn against the coalition. The survey again puts Labour two points ahead of the Tories, the first time the party has led in two consecutive polls since 2007. The party's rating (42 per cent) is also the largest share of the vote it's had for more than three years.

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Latest poll (YouGov/Sun): Labour majority of 20.

It could, as UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells reminds us, be a short-term blip, but it's noticeable that it comes after a period in which the coalition has taken some heavy hits on tuition fees and spending cuts. Just as striking is the fact that support for Labour has risen an impressive 13 points since the election, a reflection of the fact that the party's brand is nowhere near as toxic as the Tories' was. Miliband must restore Labour's economic credibility but he is not charged with convincing significant sections of the electorate that his party is not homophobic, racist or sexist.

New Statesman Poll of Polls

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Hung parliament, Labour 5 seats short.

If repeated at a general election on a uniform swing, the latest figures would give Labour a majority of 20 seats. That estimate doesn't take into account the likely effect of the coalition's planned boundary changes (which Labour peers narrowly failed to delay last night), which are likely to cost Labour a significant number of seats. According to a confidential briefing recently seen by Labour MPs, had this year's election been contested under the new boundaries, the party would have lost 25 seats, nearly 10 per cent. The Lib Dems would have lost seven seats -- more than 13 per cent of their total and the Conservatives 13 seats -- just over 4 per cent.

There are big challenges ahead for Miliband, not least establishing a consistent line on higher education, control orders and taxation, but for now all the key indicators are pointing in the right direction.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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