Two new YouGov polls on the Labour leadership tonight – one of Labour party members for Channel 4, and one of the general public in the Telegraph.

The poll of Labour party members found that 59% wanted Tony Blair to resign before the Scottish, Welsh and local elections next May, with 38% wanting him to step down this Autumn. Gordon Brown was the favoured replacement for 57% of party members. If Blair were to be forced out, 39% of party members said they would hold Labour backbenchers responsible, with only 7% saying they would blame Gordon Brown.

The Telegraph polls have voting intention (with changes from YouGov’s regular poll at the end of August) at CON 40% (+2), LAB 32% (+1), LDEM 17% (-1). The poll was conducted yesterday and today while Labour’s leadership crisis was in full swing. Clearly there has been no immediate collapse in the Labour vote as a result of the infighting, in fact Labour are up a point. This isn’t necessarily an anomoly, despite the disarray surrounding it, it is perfectly possible that putting some form of deadline on Blair’s departure has increased Labour’s support. When Tony Blair announced in September 2004 that he would not contest a fourth general election it resulted in an immediate gain in both Labour and his own poll ratings.

That said, the Conservatives are also up two points (the 8 point lead is the largest yet recorded by YouGov). Perhaps the movements that hypothetical polls with Gordon Brown as leader have shown (some Lib Dem votes moving back to Labour, but some Labour votes moving to the Tories) are already occuring as Blair’s departure becomes more imminent. It’s possible…but of course, movements of one and two points are well within the margin of error and could mean nothing whatsover. All we can say is that Labour’s support doesn’t appear to have collapsed due to the infighting…yet – it may of course take longer for any effect to materialise.

None of the other questions asked by YouGov contained any good news for the Government: 58% of respondents now want Tony Blair to resign this year, including 39% of Labour voters. “Almost two-thirds” think the wheels are falling off the government (including 35% of Labour supporters), and half think Tony Blair is a lame duck. 51% of Labour supporters think that the party is sharply divided.

There is little confidence that Gordon Brown will be an improvement on Tony Blair. Only 20% of people think he will be better than Blair, with 22% thinking he will be worse. Overall 30% of people think Brown will prove a good Prime Minister, with 38% thinking he will be a bad one. Only a third now think that Brown has done a good job as Chancellor, only a fifth think him honest and only a sixth like him. That said, he still has no serious challenger for the position – amongst Labour supporters he is first choice of over 50%, with John Reid second on just 9%.

UPDATE: The full results of the YouGov/Channel 4 poll of Labour party members are now on their website here.

On the leadership, out of the following candidates Labour members said they would vote 57% Brown, 10% Reid, 8% Johnson, 7% Miliband and 5% McDonnell with 12% don’t knows. Brown appears to have an insurmountable lead, but David Davis will vouch for the fact that these things can change. 38% of members are clearly not yet supporting either Brown or McDonnell and could potentially gather around an alternate candidate should one emerge.

YouGov also asked about who members would vote for as deputy leader – Hilary Benn was top on 27%, followed by Johnson 18%, Miliband 17%, Harman 10%, Blears 7%. A surprising victory for Benn who hasn’t been widely touted as a potential deputy leader, marred by the absence from the question of Peter Hain who has.

Finally the poll asked whether it would be desirable for the next Labour leader to bring some former ministers back into the cabinet. The only one who a plurality of Labour members thought it would be a good idea to bring back was Charles Clarke (48% good idea, 40% thought it a bad idea). 40% would like to see Clare Short return (53% against), 38% Alan Milburn (47% against), 36% David Blunkett (56% against) and only 20% Stephen Byers (60% against).


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