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.