Conservative polling, leaked to the Times (£), has suggested that Ed Miliband is not considered as fit for the job of prime minister as his brother David.
53 per cent of respondents apparently said they thought David was more suited to the top job, compared with 36 per cent for his younger brother, and Labour’s new leader:
“Mr Miliband is seen as a nice, compassionate figure. However, voters do not believe that he has a clear plan for the economy and fear that their lives would be worse off with him in charge”
While undoubtedly piling yet more pressure on Ed to deliver the speech of his life this afternoon, this leak also highlights once again just how crucial David Miliband’s choice about his future in politics could be to Labour’s time in opposition.
Straight-forward popularity in leadership elections has never been a particularly good measure of electoral success, as Ken Clarke has proved time and time again — in 1997’s Tory contest, he was the first choice of more people than the other four candidates combined, only to lose out to William Hague in the actual poll. Of course, the situations are not directly comparable; the Conservative contest was conducted via a poll of MPs, rather than a full electoral college as Labour’s was. But in one sense, Ed Miliband’s challenge is similar to William Hague’s, facing as he does a newly-elected prime minister still enjoying reasonable personal approval, having just beaten an apparently more popular colleague in a close-run contest to lead his party.
As much as David Miliband himself might urge unity and a break with “class war”, his presence cannot help but encourage constant comparisons with his brother.
However, there is no reason why this poll should have a significant impact on either Ed Miliband’s ability to set a new agenda or Labour’s boost in the polls today. Despite the Times‘ decision to run this as their front page today, their article lacks sufficient information to draw any firm conclusions. It was apparently conducted “this month during the Labour leadership contest”, and “involved more than 2,000 respondents online” who were asked for their views “after watching their campaign videos”. Without more information about when precisely the poll was conducted, who the respondents were (party affiliation and so on), and whether responses were based purely on campaign videos, it is impossible to consider this a serious “blow” to Ed Miliband.