The Times have published a hypothetical voting intention question from their latest Populus poll asking how people would vote if Gordon Brown was replaced by David Miliband. It gives voting intentions of CON 46%, LAB 26%, LDEM 16% – a Conservative lead of 20 points, compared to 16 in Populus’s standard polls.

Does it mean anything? Probably not – it certainly doesn’t predict what the short term effect of replacing Brown would be (remember how polls before Brown took over suggested he would produce a huge Tory lead, when in actual fact for a couple of months he enjoyed huge Labour leads), and I doubt very much most people have a good enough idea of who David Miliband is and what he would do as leader to make a accurate judgement on how they would react to it. In the case of Brown they’d had 10 years of him as chancellor to judge the man, with Miliband they’ve had only a year of so of him being foreign secretary.

18 Responses to “Would Labour do WORSE with Miliband?”

  1. It might mean – if only marginally, but that might be important – that Labour MPs are less inclined to replace him.

  2. Why David Milliband? The Deputy Leader contest was won narrowly by Harriet Harman with Alan Johnson a very close second. These two are the only realistic challengers if Brown should decide to fall on his sword or be pushed!

  3. C 41.9% +8.5
    Lab 32.8% -3.5
    LD 17.1% -5.7
    Oths 8.2% +0.7
    Poll 67.7% +6.4

  4. Anthony – you use the term “hypothetical” to dismiss the Populus named leader poll. Perhaps you could tell us which polls, outside of election campaigns, are not “hypothetical”?

    All the standard voting intention surveys are based on the “hypothetical” notion of there being an election tomorrow.

  5. Very true Mike. Though it’s not that it’s hypothetical that it’s of limited use, it’s that we know from experience that they are rubbish at predicting new leader bounces and I doubt any poor scores now are reflections of a negative opinion of DM’s personality in the same way that negative scores prior to GB were probably a reflection of a negative opinion of his personality.

    Pondering about the normal “election tomorrow” question, I’m not quite sure how that became the accepted standard. Asking “how would you vote if there was an election tomorrow” and “how will you vote at the next election” do produce different answers but it’s strange that we Presumably it is just that it’s a reflection of the reality that polls don’t predict the next election, they are a snapshot of now.

  6. Matthew – yep. Doesn’t matter whether it does mean much or not, if it frames the media debate anyway. Besides, it’s important because its the dog that isn’t barking. If the figures had been different – if it had shown Labour cutting the Tory lead to 5 points under Miliband – it would have been on the frontpage of the Times ;)

  7. These polls may be poor, but perhaps the poll would indicate a long-term trend with a new leader. They are shorn of the hype that hits with an actual new leader. In which case the “what if” polls about Brown were very accurate as Blair’s pre-ousting polls are things of envy to Brown right now.

    I don’t think that any Leader leader, in the current situation, could make much of a shift in the polls. That might explain why the opposition to Brown isn’t putting forward a challenger – perhaps they want Brown to take the inevitable flak for the incoming council elections and Europeans on 4th June 2009, then replace him with someone else in the aftermath.

  8. Sounds to me like this poll makes a case for Ed Miliband becoming leader of Labour before David ever will.

  9. looks like postman pat would be more popular;
    status,good job,no previous,kind to his cat..

    can he please be put in the next alternative labour leaders poll?

  10. There is a Conres poll out for the Independent 44/25/17/14
    There are alternative figures for several alternative Labour leaders – see the detailed data on the Comres website . All the alternatives prodube worse polling figures for Labour than Brown except Blair where they would be 41/31/18/10 .

  11. Labour will lose the next election because the voters know that it has trampled the poorest people into the ground. As well as continuing the Tory project of dis mantling the welfare state. These things on their own turn the stomachs of British people. Without even mentioning the wars Blair and Brown got us into.

    Then there is the £100 billion give away to the banks. The Mega billion wealth transfer from Britain to the US, that is Trident and the New Nuclear power Stations that trident needs to supply the Plutonium for its Atom bombs.

    These are the reasons that labour will lose the next election, its policies. Not its leader.

    No one trusts the Tory’s nor wants them back in power. but the only way the down trodden, betrayed and abandoned voters, have to tell the well fed and privileged new Labour fat cats that we have had enough
    of their lies.

  12. Gazz – don’t confuse “things which Labour have done which I don’t like” with “things Labour have done that have damaged their support”. They are not the same thing.

    Nuclear power is a very minor issue, nuclear weapons almost a non-issue entirely. The only thing that makes the public cite energy provision as a major concern is when prices rise. Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t hold up as an explanation (while they were certainly an important factor, they were not enough to lose the 2005 election, and thier impact is likely to be less, not more, at the next election as they fade into history).

    If it comes under the “trampling poor people”, the 10p tax rate fiasco is the closest there to what actually happened.

  13. Anthony,

    I think Iraq was a huge issue, but one which was contained by the fact that the only party that could realistically beat Labour had also supported the war.

    It played very well for the LibDems under kennedy but they were to far behind to start with to win.

    In an odd sense Blair got it right by fallowing te rules of the “project” and closing the gaps where labour was percieved to be weak. In defence terms that became keep the defence budget at Tory levels and fight any war the Tories would.

    Back at the start when everyone was predicting a quick easy war the electoral calculation was that if Labour fought a war the Tories would then Tories couldn’t touch them, but if Labour didn’t back the war and the US but the Tories did, Labour would lose votes as it would again be portrayed as weak on defence.

    Even though we didn’t get the quick clean war that the politicians had predicted in electoral terms Blairs principle opponent still couldn’t use it against him.


  14. Anthony:

    “Nuclear power is a very minor issue, nuclear weapons almost a non-issue entirely.”

    At the moment, in the UK as a whole, Nuclear power is a very minor issue, nuclear weapons almost a non-issue entirely.

    Nuclear power companies now plan to put new generation capacity near to markets rather in remoter parts of Scotland. Surprisingly,they did not seem to know this until the SNP government was elected.

    Nuclear weapons is a non-issue because government and press are not making it so.


    Not till after the referendum.


    The 10p tax issue was merely the final nail in the coffin – not the main reason Labour are declining in popularity – it was the conference season last year that the electorate saw the difference in the two parties & the actions of Gordon Brown during the Tory conference by going to Iraq that started the slide – everything else afterwards was just a rolling stone gathering more and more moss!

  16. Mike “the oracle” Richardson,

    Rolling stones don’t gather moss, if they did they would stop, and so would Browns decline have.


  17. Slightly off-topic, I know, but nobody else seems to have mentioned it:- Who is the mystery cabinet member who has apparently told the BBC he is nearly ready to resign? Does anyone know? I’m taking a shot in the dark and going for Hutton but I’m sure one of you guys can make a more informed guess.

    It surely can’t be Miliband because after dithering so much already saying that you’re going to resign but not giving your name would just be ridiculous.

  18. Steve,

    It’s David Cairns at the scotland office, hardly a leading figure, but the most senior so far. Oh and before you ask no relation.