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19 July 2016

Jeremy Corbyn well ahead in first poll of the Labour leadership race

The Labour leader is on course to repeat last year's victory.

By Stephen Bush

Jeremy Corbyn would easily defeat his two rivals if the Labour leadership election was held tomorrow, a YouGov poll has found. He leads Angela Eagle by 24 points, with 58 per cent to 34 per cent of the vote. Owen Smith, who launched his campaign on Sunday, lags by an identical margin once the margin of error (plus or minus three per cent) is taken into account: 56 per cent to 34 per cent. 

Although YouGov has had some high-profile errors in recent years, they have a flawless record in internal party contests, correctly predicting the winner of every leadership race since the pollster was founded. 

The poll accounts for the membership freeze and only includes Labour members who signed up prior to January 2016, and represents an increase in Corbyn’s figures from the last YouGov poll, which showed his approval ratings among Labour members slipping slightly. However, the party’s swing vote remains unchanged within the margin of error. The proportion of Labour members saying they will “probably vote for Jeremy Corbyn but might vote for someone else” is at 13 per cent – down a point from 14 per cent. The proportion that “probably won’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn but might” is down three points, from 11 per cent to nine per cent. 

The poll will provide a boost to supporters of Owen Smith, who argue that a fresh face is needed to have any hope of defeating Corbyn. 69 per cent of Labour members say they know either “not much” or “nothing at all” about the Pontypridd MP, against just one per cent who say the same about Corbyn and 26 per cent who say they know not much or nothing at all about Eagle. Eagle and Smith have struck a deal that whichever candidate secures the least support from the parliamentary Labour party will drop out in favour of the other. 

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