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28 July 2015

Does a new poll show Yvette Cooper in second place?

A new leaked poll shows Yvette Cooper in second place against Jeremy Corbyn - but there are reasons to be sceptical.

By Stephen Bush

A new private poll has leaked, once again showing Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership – but this time, Yvette Cooper, not Andy Burnham is the candidate who makes it to the final round. The Mirror’s Jason Beattie has the figures: Corbyn ahead with 42 per cent of the vote, Cooper in second with 22.6 per cent of the vote, Burnham in third with 20 per cent, and Liz Kendall in fourth with 14 per cent. Once again, Corbyn wins, but by a narrower margin than he does if Burnham makes it to the final round, 51-49 against 53-47. 

It will bolster the Cooper campaign’s claim that they, not Burnham, are the true “stop Corbyn” campaign. But the figures are being derided, in private as well as in public, by opponents of the Cooper campaign. “They look like canvass returns to me,” ventured one MP, who is supporting Andy Burnham. “Looks like nonsense,” was the response from one source close to the Kendall campaign.

Who’s right? The figures are certainly genuine but they look more likely to be the product of the Cooper campaign than any reputable pollster. Few pollsters would be able to poll party members to any degree of accuracy. A telephone pollster would be able to but that would be well outside the financial means of any of the leadership campaigns. YouGov’s vast panel is more than capable of producing a poll of Labour members. In any case, all the reputable pollsters say that these figures haven’t been produced by them – although pollsters have a record of denying figures that turn out to be theirs after all.

Ultimately, people will believe what they want to believe. The poll appears to confirm three  hunches of mine – that the Welfare Bill vote crippled Burnham’s chances, that Corbyn is on course to win but that Cooper is best-placed to stop him. That means I’m inclined to believe it, murky origins notwithstanding.  

But the mystery around the poll means that the biggest beneficiaries are likely to be the Corbyn camp: instead of a unified effort by the moderate campaigns to halt the Corbyn juggernaut, a scrap will likely ensue between the Burnham and Cooper teams as to which candidate is best-placed to stop Corbyn.

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