YouGov have carried out a fresh poll of Labour party members and Trade Unionists for tomorrow’s Sunday Times. Six weeks ago a similar YouGov poll found David Miliband eight points ahead; today’s poll finds the two Milibands neck and neck, with Ed Miliband very narrowly ahead. For those of you with subscriptions, the Sunday Times’s full report can be found here.

As before, YouGov asked people their first preference, their second preference, and then who they would prefer between the two Milibands (based on the, thankfully correct, assumption that the poll would show the two Milibands coming up top on the early preferences). Samples of party members and members of Labour affiliated trade unions were polled, and MPs preferences were based upon updated work by Left Foot Forward.

The main shift is amongst Trade Unionists. In the Labour member section there is only a small movement towards Ed – in July the two brothers were equal on 50% each, now Ed is ahead by 4 points. Amongst the MPs and MEPs section there has been a very slight movement towards David, and Left Foot Forward’s projected split for MPs & MEPs is now David 56%, Ed 44%. Amongst Trade Unionists there has been a large movement, in July we found a lead of 12 points for David amongst eligible trade unionists. Since then there has been a huge shift, and Ed now leads David in that section by 57% to 43%. Prima facie, it would appear that trade union encouragement of their members to back the candidate they endorsed had a decisive effect.

Putting all three parts of the college together this leaves Ed two points ahead, 51% to 49%. David Miliband is still ahead amongst MPs, but it’s not enough to overcome Ed Miliband’s lead among members and trade unionists.

One big caveat is MPs second preferences – Left Foot Forward have a good canvas of how MPs will cast their first preferences, but there is little good information on how MPs will cast their second preferences. In both YouGov projections we have made the crude assumption that the second preferences of MPs who back Abbott, Balls and Burnham will divide evenly between David and Ed Miliband, but obviously this could go either way. About two thirds of MPs are backing a Miliband anyway, so this unknown section makes up a third of a third of the total vote – about 10%. Another unknown is turnout, but notably over 40% of those polled said they had already voted, and these respondents were more likely to backing Ed Miliband, so if YouGov have included too many unlikely voters, the result should be more favourable to Ed than this suggests.

With the MPs second preferences unknown and the two candidates within the margin of error it really could go either way, but Ed Miliband is now in poll position.

Meanwhile, on YouGov’s standard daily polling (an entirely seperate poll, obviously) voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 14%. YouGov also asked about the future of Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s Director of Communications who was editor of the News of the World at the time of the phone tapping scandal. 48% think Coulson should go, 24% that he should keep his job.

414 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times Labour leadership poll”

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  1. So the bookies appear to have been wide of the mark yet again? The odds on Ed are fantastic at the moment, clearly much better than they should be given the apparent tightness of the race. Ed is my personal favourite on policy but whether he has what it takes to win elections I’m not sure.

  2. Oh dear dear dear dear dear.

    Pure Labour Gold

  3. Anthony,

    Excellent analysis.

  4. However popular either brother is with the various strands of the Labour party, I am just grateful that none of them seem to realise how weird and alien they seem to ordinary potential voters. The only ‘normal’ candidate is Burnham.

    I do realise that these things are hard to quantify, but floating voters in particular seem to be influenced by how telegenic candidates are. This goes back to the first ‘TV election’ between Hume and Wilson. Wilson obviously won. Blair was a more attractive candidate than Major, Hague or Howard, but Cameron was better than Brown. This is nothing to do with policy, simply looks, confidence, and ability to sound ‘normal’. Whether we like it or not these things are probably more influential with many voters than the minutiae of policy. A Cameron-Blair contest would have been interesting.

    Anyway, to my (probably biased) eye, both Milibands seem to have unusual facial expressions, voices and general manner. If either is Labour leader at the next election they are bound to lose, unless the Tories elect Redwood for instance.

  5. I wish I’d taken notice of Mike Smithson recently when he urged people to bet a few bob on Ed.

  6. Andy JS,

    You’ll still get good odds.

  7. @Pete B

    Real insightful comment there, Pete! Bollocks to policies, conviction and vision its all down to whose is better looking.

    Your insight doesn’t really hold up though as Nick Clegg is to my heterosexual eye better looking than Cameron and Brown. So surely he should have won? Instead he was totally humiliated!!!

  8. Current betfair:
    D Miliband 1/3
    E Miliband 14/5
    Burnham 119/1
    Balls 109/1
    Abbott 149/1
    Harman 519/1
    999/1 Bar

  9. I think Ed Miliband will be a useless leader. He’ll set his camp a long way from the centre ground and indulge the left in the wilderness.

    When I read news like this I’m almost tempted to get off my apathetic backside and campaign for DM.

  10. Michael V
    If you have true leadership qualities, you can win elections without pandering to the ‘centre ground’. The obvious example is Mrs Thatcher.
    However, i think you’re right. He would not be a good leader.

  11. @ Michael V & Pete B

    You are assuming that an Ed Miliband win would preclude the brothers being a united force within the Party after the contest is over.

    Do not lose sight of the future – 5 years hence:
    The electorate will have changed; &
    Ed Miliband will have changed.

    There is a lot of political muscle behind Ed M. They have a strategy for getting him & his cabinet elected at the next GE. Labour may not have held onto power 4 times in a row – but they came close. Have no doubts, Labour knows how to win. 8-)

  12. @ Michael V

    Like Robin, your the only one here making sense about this. Ed Milliband talks about the New Labour “comfort zone”, complaing that we need to get out of that….and yet it was that “comfort zone” that helped win us three elections and tbh…what Ed Milliband is doing is no better than retreating to the “old labour, left labour comfort zone”.

    Most people are moderates or small c conservatives. I mean, by god, I know some Labour voters who agree with Labour on taxation, spending and housing policies but totally disagree with them on same-sex marriage, immigration and law and order. It is this “cultural conservative” policies and “tough stance” on law and order that will win labour votes.

    Also, Labour vote hasn’t disappeared to the Lib Dems because the libdems made significant gains in “traditional die-hard south” tory areas where Labour stand no chance of ever winning down there.

    The fact is, ed milliband does not need to go down the left-wing, old labour root because those 29% who voted labour in the last election ARE the core, old labour heartland voters. We stand to make nothing more than cherry pickings if labour decides to vote for ed.

  13. @Amber

    I’m sorry amber but as a Labour voter and member I’m afarid Ed Milliband’s plan to “retreat to the left” will get a little bit of enjoyment, then, come 2014 and 2015…the novelty will wear off, their will be backroom bickering and infighting and Labour is back to pre-election 1992. Old, tired, too philsophical, less common sense and reliability.

    Ed Millibans is dangerous to the Party…that’s not saying we shouldn’t change the things we got wrong but change for change sake is not a good option i mean his plan to introduce a graduate tax is actually less popular than the tuition fees.

    As the sun would say “Should Ed Milliband win tonight, could the last labour member begin to dig a grave for Labour to fall into”

  14. This is depressing. David Miliband is a PM-in-waiting, but it is looking increasinly likely that Labour are about to embark on another bout of political suicide instead.

    Pete B,

    Thatcher won because there was no credible alternative. If Labour had been more sensible in 1983 they’d have won a landslide majority.

  15. Sorry to be nitpicky but Ed M is on 52% not 51%. It works out at 51.66 if you average the three totals.

    I’m all gobsmacked at the bookies odds. Even now Ladbrokes are offering 3/1 and Bet365 at 10/3. I took advantage of BetFair’s 4/1 the other day.

  16. Jakob
    “If Labour had been more sensible in 1983 they’d have won a landslide majority.”

    I think you’re forgetting the ‘Falklands factor’. A clear-cut win in a just war can work wonders, even though it didn’t help Churchill in 1945.

  17. The SDP splitting the vote was probably a bigger factor though.

  18. Pete B,

    I think the ‘Falklands factor’ is a myth. In reality the voters took their first real look at the alternative to Thatcher unpopular government and didn’t like what they saw.

    In any case, Thatcher was only able to win due to inept opposition. She didn’t somehow manage to magic more right-wingers out of thin air.

  19. The reason I support Ed Milliband is his understanding of the potential of the new green deal to not only address peak oil, sustainability and man made climate warming, but also to create jobs and a new manufacturing base.

    I would also like to see Ed Balls as shadow chancellor. The structural deficit (a somewhat artificial construct at best) is a third of that left by WW2 and we didn’t notice it being paid off over the last 60 years. There is a very real alternative to the slash and burn policies of the coalition.

    The LP has been thoroughly compromised by the record of New Labour. In the period when neoliberalism has been shown to have failed, there is a need to radically move on from the political agendas of Blair and Brown.

    I believe that the opinion polls reflect the electorate’s overwhelming desire for change but uncertainty about where it can be found. As Chomsky says we don’t really have political parties, we have (had) parties that just represent big business.

  20. @Syzygy

    I agree with you on the deficit and on the economy and if this is what ed milliband believes then that would excite me.

    The trouble is though is that the oridaniary voter is not as sophisticated, clever or depthful to economics, the world economy, the history of economies as you, me, ed balls and ed milliband are.

    They get played easily by fear, tatical fear by the right-wing or centre press which are a lot more about these days like the sun, the telegraph, the daily mail and even in some cases the independent could be considered the champaion of capitalism even its the kind of ethical capitalism.

    The left-wing press the mirror and the guardian just make cheap attacks at the Tories rather than presently detail and facts (with the exception of the guardian who do provide some but very light).

    Also, other medias like t.v. and internet are more inclinded to the right. As far as the right, free-market economic solution media exists or until the ordianary voter becomes more independent minded then the British right media will always play bag piper to the electorate and play on their fears.

  21. I don’t understand why everyone seems to be calling Ed Miliband “left wing” and “old Labour”, he is neither and nothing of the sort. He is just slightly left of centre at best.

    What he is proposing is not hard left, it is not a return to Foot, nor is he a Bennite. He is a centre-left social democratic politican. I thinkt the smear tatics against Ed Miiband by David Miliband supports and Blaiites are nothing sort of unfounded scaremongering, that undermimes the Labour Party.

  22. the A Sciberras post had to be under Xiby….. ;)

  23. Ed Miliband isn’t “old” labour. None of the candidates are.

    The media you listed – Sun, Telegraph & Mail – will attack anybody who stands for Labour values. Please read what’s on your membership card before you vote.

    Power, wealth & opportunity ought to be in the hands of the many not the few.

    Don’t the media barons epitomise power, wealth & opportunity being in the hands of the few? If you can’t see how Labour can get elected without kowtowing to these people, what is the point? Please, open your minds to the possibility that we can change the ‘game’. 8-)

  24. bleh the system seems to have deleted my last completely inoffensive post…. pity. So not to look like a complete odd ball, in view of that single comment, i will have to rewrite what i said.

    Basically my points where these:

    1. Have not posted for a while as i did not want to enter into arguments with my Lab mates here but have been following th site regularly none the less.

    2. Ed M has had a great campaign but he has said things that will come back to bite him in the general: such as the possibility of a lab-lib coalition in the future and Mr Clegg

    3. My candidate of choice is David, who has presented the most coherent plan. The guys has impeccable intelligence and possess that extra wow factor any leader needs.

    4. Having said that I would be equally pleased if Ed wins and he has led the most exciting fresh energized and organized campaign which says alot about his capabilities to lead.

    5. Lab with the Milly bros who I sure hope stick together after this, with Balls as shadow chancellor will be definitely a formidable team come next election.

    6. Have to say it and sorry if i offend someone but Andy and Abbot were non starters for me from the word go.

    Thats about it

  25. Well I find this disappointing – but having said that, I think that EM is a good candidate, and could be great…

    However, I’m not giving up yet. One of the difficulties we have he is that yougov don’t have a similar competition to compare the leadership ballot to, and we don’t have a way of assessing their accuracy on this topic until the results come out.

    If the candidates were more different (for example if this was Balls in first and Abbot in second) I think it could cause difficulties for the Party, simply because of the difference between the opinions of the functional and funding parts of the ballot.

  26. @Amber Star – “There is a lot of political muscle behind Ed M.”

    It will take ‘Brains’ (impeccable intelligence as Xiby puts it) not brawn, to win the next election. ;)

  27. Spot on Geraint.

    The idea that E-Mil’s Left is just absolute rubbish. He’s a social democrat at best – who’s slightly left of his brother. The idea that because Labour won three terms with New Labour they shouldn’t seek to change their party is what will keep them unelected for years. Their 2005 result, once examined was hard to be proud of, and – despite what Andrew Chandler claims – Labour ARE trying to win Lib Dem voters back, and E-Mil’s best placed to do that imo. The last election was a repeat of 1983, but this time around the left vote was split because of the exact opposite problem – they’d lurched to the authoritarian right, and that didn’t sit well with people who’d voted for a progressive social democratic party.

    Also the graduate tax linked to your earnings option is shown quite clearly in E-Mil’s Yougov poll to decisively beat the current ballooning tuition fees we have now, so I’d be interested to know where it’s rated less popular.

    I accept that E-Mil’s one great weakness is he’s no Wilson, but then neither is David. The only contender who’d actually relate to your average voter would be Burnham, who hasn’t got a chance. But then, next to Cameron and Clegg, it’s not going to be so bad for either Miliband to appear normal, especially when they’re defending the poorest against ConDem cuts.

  28. i was at the meeting yeaterday which featured Ed Balls. I really do hope that evry Labour member see him speak. He has a way to articulate the issues which I haven’t seen from the other candidates. He talks about challenging the consensus abouts defecit cutting andf spending £6B building 100,000 new homes. His decision making is not based on ideology but on pragmatism. My opinion of Ed balls ahs certainly changed recently and i hope many labour voters will give him the chance I feel he deserves.

  29. I think we should listen to Amber – she seems to be talking sense. EM is not particularly left wing and while some sections of the media have gone after him, they will go after any new Labour leader.

    Everyone needs to remember that what have recently witnessed is the global political, economic, financial and media concensus being shown to be completely, utterly and irrevocably wrong. We are about to witness just how much pain ordinary people will have to suffer in order to pay for this error. There is an oportunity for a leader with a salient political message to take us back to a more sensible and people focused system of government.

    I have no idea if EM is the man for this, and I’m aware that what politicians say in internal election campaigns is not the same as when facing the wider electorate, but I have been posting regularly about the need for a cogent alternative strategy to the fiscal crisis that recognises the real problems we face and finds ways to tackle them in a manner where those responsible are made to pay the price while ensuring we are never duped by these people again.

  30. Amber
    “Power, wealth & opportunity ought to be in the hands of the many not the few. ”

    This is a lovely ideal, but hopelessly naive, which is the problem with socialism. Whatever system you have, there will be an elite who wield most of the power and have most of the wealth. Opportunity is a different matter. Look at any socialist state and there has always been an elite who are usually high-ranking party members and usually much harder to depose than in our system.

    On the other hand, opportunity can be for many even in very ‘right-wing’ societies such as Ancient Rome or the ottoman Empire where slaves could sometimes achieve positions of great powere and wealth.

    Socialism to me is a bit like Christianity without God, and is superficially very attractive. The problem is, it just doesn’t work on any scale bigger than a commune. Even in a commune leaders will emerge who have most of the effective power even if decisions are nominally democratic.

    Sorry if this is a bit philosophical, but the discussion seems to be drifting that way.

  31. alec

    good post

    someone should be talking about capital controls

    someone should also be talking about how business and finance do not always have the same interests

    i’m off out now, i’ll catch up later

  32. The IoS has a story today about ‘the Blue Book’ – details held by the Information Comissioner into a NI journalist that shows proof of hundreds of illegal actions across Murdoch titles, including by Rebekah Brookes. It gives names of the journalists asking for the actions as well as the victims.

    I suspect NI themselves will move soon to purge this as it might start to frighten the city.

  33. If AW’s analysis is correct then it looks like the party may well have blown it.

    Two things worry me about what Anthony says:

    (1) The notion, inherent in the poll, that the second preference votes of those MPs who favour Abbott, Balls or Burnham are supposed to split equally between the Miliband brothers: as a DM supporter, I think this notion is rather optimistic.

    (2) The fact that a plurality of those party members or trade unionists who have already voted have cast their ballots for EM. This suggests to me that there may be a factor at play here that has not hitherto been identified: given that EM is seen as the candidate of the left, could it be that the more active trade unionists (i.e. those who would probably favour a left wing candidate) are more likely to return their ballot? Perhaps DM is favoured mostly by those who take only a passing interest in politics (i.e. the ones who base their preference on which candidate has the highest public profile or is the most well known).

    It’s still possible for DM to pull it out. After all, I’m sure Anthony Wells would agree that polling an electoral college like this has more pitfalls than conventional polling – but on balance it looks like Ed may well edge it. I suspect that if DM loses, then Mandelson’s intervention will, in retrospect, be regarded as decisive.

    NB: I see the Sunday Times headline is giving this poll the shock treatment and claiming EM is ahead. But then journalists never did understand the meaning of the term ‘margin or error’.

  34. I have alwys thought it likely that EM will win. It will be the Unios ‘wot done it’. There are (at the very least) unknowns.

    1. How mature will the Unions behave, or do they wat something in return for their support?

    2. Who is Ed Mil? ( it is not an un reasonable question). I do not know.

    3. What will the political landscape be like in 5 years? At this stage in is too hard to say. But I have long suspected that Blairiet style centrism will be a Tory mantra not a red one. The is a little bit of room for Labour to realign.

  35. Amber – Reveal your sources!! What is this muscle of which you speak?

  36. Even a David Miliband led Labour Party would have policies significantly to the left of the 1997-2010 government. Which leadership candidate is calling for the ending of charity status for private schools, again? Oh…

  37. Richard of Norway

    Capital controls long silenced dreams being awakened. Very “Old Labour” and from a Liberal.

    I think there is too much fear still in the labour party. The time is right for a coherent critique of unfetterd capitalism, for taking on the banks, the city and the media. The public IMO would be supportive of this. For making a case for Nationalisation to some Degree. Fairness is the key and if the public are convinced it is “fair” then the public will support it.

    Pete B made a good point earlier, if you a good strong leader you do not have to lead from the centre. In 1983 a distant memory for many, Labour did not have someone perceived as a Strong Leader, nor someone who came across well on TV.

    Sadly Ed Miliband does not tick the boxes in my opinion, plus he is too liberaal in social policy for my liking.

  38. @amber and peter b

    but consider that when ” power, wealth and opportunity have been in the hands of the many..” the result has often been tyranny. For example:

    The French Revolution

    Communist Russia and its Soviet Empire

    So, in itself, what you propose is not always or necessarily a good thing.

  39. Has anyone got a link to the tables without going through the Times?

  40. Interesting post on the “political betting” site. Mike Smithson suggests that some MPs backing D Miliband could just be opportunists based on his front runner status, aka David Davis. And so some of that support could start to fracture if the wind is seen to be changing direction.

    PS @ Geraint. Agree 100%.

  41. Geraint,

    Good post.

  42. @ Andrew Chandler – “British right media will always play bag piper to the electorate”

    It will be intriguing to see NI in crisis for a while, but a Labour leader will face broadly the same media landscape in 2015.
    ‘Political muscle’ may work within the context of the labour party, but it will be counterproductive in the wider context.
    Force of argument alone will carry over the heads of the media to sway the electorate? Alas, that hope has been dashed many times.

  43. Geraint – Do you believe therefore that the 49% of those supporting DM are too stupid to look at each leaders policies for themselves? To decide for themselves whether they like what DM and EM respectively are saying.
    In particular, do you believe that Labour voters, of all people, would listen to right wing media scaremongering?

    Perhaps we made our own minds up and believed Ed M couldn’t win an election. With any policies.

  44. Hi everyone
    Back from vacation, but still in Greece, where I will stay at least for a year (new job as translator, even almost bankrupt countries can offer opportunities after all!!!).
    The situation of quasi-equality between the two brothers is a very delicate one. In France we experienced something similar in the second round of 2008 PS leadership contest between Martine Aubry and Segolene Royal, where a 50-50 split brought the party very close to implosion. Finally Aubry (the “equivalent” of EM in a certain way) was declared winner over “modernist” Royal, but it took almost two years for the party to reunite. So it is important for all laborites to stick together no matter what the result will be, because in the UK the party leadership is even more important that in France, where the winning party does not automatically provide the PM – the latter is appointed by the President of the Republic, who retains the real power, and the essential victory is in Presidential Election.

  45. If true, this poll concerns me.

    The issue for Labour is, I believe, the same issue it had pre 1997 – namely it was successful in the North, Wales, and Scotland, but did poorly in the south.

    A friend of mine lives in Southend, and her father was a working class East Ender, who became an Engineer at a refinery in Essex. He did okay, and bought a nice bungalow in Southend (not too expensive at the time). He supported TB in 1997, but became disenfranchised. He considers himself working class, yet due to the value of property in the south east going up, he found himself subject to inheritance tax when to his way of thinking that was for rich people of a different class. As his pension is quite solid, he was ineligible for means-tested retirement benefits.

    In short, a working class man who did okay for himself has turned from a party he supported for decades, as they no longer represent him, but to seem to want to penalise him. Many former Labour voters in South East share this belief I think. I live in West Yorkshire, and 40K is a comfortable living wage here, but in London it clearly isn’t. Therefore, The Labour Party threshold for where higher level taxes kick in should be in excess of 40k to represent the working classes in the SE.

    TB was initially successful at attracting this demographic, but it fell away and GB continued this trend. Without getting these people on board Labour will not win another GE.

    I have serious concerns that Ed Miliband cannot do this. I have a feeling Ed as leader will not do any more than attract the core vote back. To win a GE you need core vote plus a fair few of the floating voters. Analysis shows that Labour lost votes from both the core and the floaters in recent years and successful strategy for winning again requires winning both elements back.

  46. The LDs are making something of a mini comback. IT appears to be ever so slightly at the expense of blue. Do we deem that to be down to Clegg’s three weeks in the limelight? OR has the series of negative stories cost blue a little? It is hard to conclude the latter, since government approval has also made a recovery.

    All in all, it i smost likely that silly season is over.


    Welcome back! It is always good to see you post. Please keep doing so… Nepotism – is it rife in the southern European countries?

    Are there many examples of the Ahern’s and Lenihan’s of Ireland elsewhere in Europe? The late Polish president is one example I suppose. The examples I cite existed quite harmoniously.

  47. Bookies are in business to make money. They are rarely wrong.
    I suspect that it is a good time to put money on David M though he was not my number 1

  48. @Garry K,

    “A friend of mine lives in Southend, and her father was a working class East Ender, who became an Engineer at a refinery in Essex. He did okay, and bought a nice bungalow in Southend (not too expensive at the time). He supported TB in 1997, but became disenfranchised. He considers himself working class, yet due to the value of property in the south east going up, he found himself subject to inheritance tax when to his way of thinking that was for rich people of a different class. As his pension is quite solid, he was ineligible for means-tested retirement benefits.

    In short, a working class man who did okay for himself has turned from a party he supported for decades, as they no longer represent him, but to seem to want to penalise him. Many former Labour voters in South East share this belief I think. I live in West Yorkshire, and 40K is a comfortable living wage here, but in London it clearly isn’t. Therefore, The Labour Party threshold for where higher level taxes kick in should be in excess of 40k to represent the working classes in the SE.”

    That describe me and my family’s situation as well. In my experience, a lot of the old East Enders (and working class) feel that Labour has deserted them in recent years. My parents have gone from disliking the Tories (and voting Labour) to supporting the Tories (and disliking Labour).

    A lot of Northerners and Scottish people don’t seem to realise that for anyone south of the Midlands the house prices are crazy. A house worth £350,000 or more is commonplace in this part of the UK, and most are small (i.e. not mansions).

  49. I mean, I ask anyone to find a 3 or 4 bedroom house in London (or in the surrounding counties) for less than £300,000. Yet, Labour wants to punish responsible homeowners who have saved their whole lives just because they own their own property! Kind of explains why hardly anyone, save those on welfare, wants to vote Labour in these parts – especially those saving/in retirement. Labour just doesn’t support or represent us South-East Englanders anymore.

  50. @Matt

    I don’t suppose your family feel the need to return to the ‘old East End’ (as such it does not exist any more, and many mourn its passing)… if they did, a *small* house might set them back a million. 8O

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