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%