There’s some good news for David Miliband this morning, with a YouGov poll commissioned by his campaign suggesting that voters see him as the most effective alternative to David Cameron.
It found that 47 per cent of respondents believe the former foreign secretary is best placed to challenge Cameron, compared to 19 per cent for Ed Milband and 13 per cent for Ed Balls. Diane Abbott and Andy Burnham are on 11 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
But the finding which the Miliband campaign will trumpet is that their man has a strong lead among voters who abandoned Labour at the last election:
He has a 25 per cent lead over his brother among these voters on who would be the best alternative to Cameron, and a 27 per cent lead as the candidate most likely to persuade people to vote Labour.
As with any Labour leadership poll, it’s important to add some significant qualifications. Miliband’s lead may simply reflect the fact that he is the best known of the candidates; there is no reason to believe that Ed Miliband couldn’t outperform him once established as leader.
Elsewhere, in a riposte to his brother’s repeated warning that the party cannot remain in the “New Labour comfort zone”, Miliband tells the Sun: “We need a majority strategy, not a minority strategy.”
No one could argue with that, but the assumption made by too many of Miliband’s supporters is that a “majority strategy” necessarily entails greater compromise with the right. The psephological reality is that Labour has lost five million votes since 1997, only a million of which went to the Tories.
The party’s most popular policies, such as the 50p top tax rate and the bankers’ bonus tax, have come when it has broken with Blairite tradition. The need to move beyond New Labour is no longer just a matter of ethics, but one of electoral necessity.