Which way will Labour turn on control orders?

Miliband is likely to support the abolition of control orders but will his MPs?

The news that the coalition is set to scrap control orders leaves Labour facing its own policy dilemma. Since his election as leader, Ed Miliband has pledged to remake Labour as a party of civil liberties but has said little on control orders.

The best guide we have to the party's position is Ed Balls's recent interview with Andrew Marr. The shadow home secretary supported the coalition's plan to cut the pre-charge detention period from 28 to 14 days but was noticeably more ambiguous about control orders.

He said:

I think control orders is a tougher one because, look, if you were starting from a blank sheet of paper, you would never want to have any kind of unlimited detention. On the other hand, what was clear back in 2005 is there were people who were a real threat but couldn't be charged. And what did you do? And I understand why those decisions were made.

I think the jury's still out on this one. If the security services and the police can persuade the Home Secretary there's alternatives to control orders – it could be travel restrictions, it could be more surveillance – then we should support that. Consensus is the right thing. I think on that one, the jury's still out. We don't yet know whether an alternative to control orders can work.

Miliband is certain to resist the temptation to label the coalition as "soft on terror" but others in his party may not. On Twitter, the Labour MP Pat McFadden declares: "Control orders: the PM's duty is to protect the public, not 'look after' the Lib Dems."

To portray the move as a sop to the Lib Dems isn't wholly accurate. Several of the ministers pushing hardest against control orders are Tories, including the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, and the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. Conversely, Lord Carlile, who today warns the government against scrapping control orders, is a Lib Dem peer. But, as Norman Tebbit recognises, the charge that David Cameron has put the interests of the Lib Dems before the interests of the public is a potent one.

Miliband's instinct will be to support the abolition of control orders and to back what are described as "mitigating measures". But, once again, he may find himself at odds with a significant number of his MPs.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Sadiq Khan likely to be most popular Labour leader, YouGov finds

The Mayor of London was unusual in being both well-known, and not hated. 

Sadiq Khan is the Labour politician most likely to be popular as a party leader, a YouGov survey has suggested.

The pollsters looked at prominent Labour politicians and asked the public about two factors - their awareness of the individual, and how much they liked them. 

For most Labour politicians, being well-known also correlated with being disliked. A full 94 per cent of respondents had heard of Jeremy Corbyn, the current Labour leader. But when those who liked him were balanced out against those who did, his net likeability rating was -40, the lowest of any of the Labour cohort. 

By contast, the Labour backbencher and former army man Dan Jarvis was the most popular, with a net likeability rating of -1. But he also was one of the least well-known.

Just four politicians managed to straddle the sweet spot of being less disliked and more well-known. These included former Labour leadership contestants Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Hilary Benn. 

But the man who beat them all was Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of Lodon. 

YouGov's Chris Curtis said that in terms of likeability Khan "outstrips almost everyone else". But since Khan only took up his post last year, he is unlikely to be able to run in an imminent Labour contest.

For this reason, Curtis suggested that party members unhappy with the status quo would be better rallying around one of the lesser known MPs, such as Lisa Nandy, Jarvis or the shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer. 

He said: "Being largely unknown may also give them the opportunity to shape their own image and give them more space to rejuvenate the Labour brand."

Another lesser-known MP hovering just behind this cohort in the likeability scores is Clive Lewis, a former journalist and army reservist, who served in Afghanistan. 

Lewis, along with Nandy, has supported the idea of a progressive alliance between Labour and other opposition parties, but alienated Labour's more Eurosceptic wing when he quit the frontbench over the Article 50 vote.

There is nevertheless space for a wildcard. The YouGov rating system rewards those who manage to achieve the greatest support and least antagonism, rather than divisive politicians who might nevertheless command deep support.

Chuku Umunna, for example, is liked by a larger share of respondents than Jarvis, but is also disliked by a significant group of respondents. 

However, any aspiring Labour leader should heed this warning - after Corbyn, the most unpopular Labour politician was the former leader, Ed Miliband. 

Who are YouGov's future Labour leaders?

Dan Jarvis

Jarvis, a former paratrooper who lost his wife to cancer, is a Westminster favourite but less known to the wider world. As MP for Barnsley Central he has been warning about the threat of Ukip for some time, and called Labour's ambiguous immigration policy "toxic". 

Lisa Nandy

Nandy, the MP for Wigan, has been whispered as a possible successor, but did not stand in the 2015 Labour leadership election. (She did joke to the New Statesman "see if I pull out a secret plan in a few years' time"). Like Lewis, Nandy has written in favour of a progressive alliance. On immigration, she has stressed the solidarity between different groups on low wages, a position that might placate the pro-immigration membership. 

Keir Starmer

As shadow Brexit minister and a former director of public prosecutions, Starmer is a widely-respected policy heavyweight. He joined the mass resignation after Brexit, but rejoined the shadow cabinet and has been praised for his clarity of thought. As the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, though, he must fight charges of being a "metropolitan elite". 

 

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