We finally have a proper poll on the Labour leadership contest. In the Sun tomorrow YouGov have a poll of Labour party members, and of members of affiliated trade unions. Full results are here.

Amongst Labour party members David Miliband leads on first preferences, with 38% support, though Ed Miliband is not far behind on 32%. Diane Abbott is third with 13%, Andy Burnham on 10% and Ed Balls last on 7%. The second preferences of Diane Abbott and Ed Balls’ supportes split in favour of Ed Miliband, with Andy Burnham’s supporters splitting pretty equally between the two.

When all respondents are asked to pick who they would prefer between the Milibands (as a way of estimating what would happen once all the second, third and fourth preferences had fallen out), David Miliband and Ed Miliband are exactly equal amongst Labour party members, with 50% a piece once those who didn’t express a preference are excluded.

Turning to Trade Union members, David Miliband again comes top on first preferences with 34% support, followed by Ed Miliband on 26%, Diane Abbott on 17%, Burnham on 13% and Balls on 11% – the same order as amongst members. Second preferences of trade union voters though split either evenly between the Milibands, or in favour of David – meaning that David Miliband leads his brother by 56% to 44%.

The final section of the electorate college is the MPs. YouGov did not poll them, but has based a projection on the work Left Foot Forward have done, based on MPs nominations (adjusted to reflect the nominations that were “lent” to Diane Abbott from supporters of other campaigns). Their second preferences are based on a canvass of Abbott, Burnham and Balls supporters by Left Foot Forward, but relatively few would give responses meaning that YouGov have mostly assumed they will split evenly between the Milibands.

The conclusion of this, is that the race is between David and Ed Miliband, and it is very close. On YouGov’s current figures, David Miliband is ahead, but this is based solely upon the Trade Union vote and some quite flimsy assumptions about how MPs second preferences will split. The big trade unions have mostly endorsed Ed Miliband, and once they contact their members urging them to back Ed it may well shift the trade union vote in his favour. Equally, we really do have very little information on MPs second preferences, so the MP section of the college really could go either way.

Based on the polling so far, David Miliband leads, but it is perfectly possible for Ed Miliband to win.

259 Responses to “David Miliband narrowly ahead in YouGov Labour leadership poll”

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    Of course it does not astound me. I have heard the same old claptrap for years. When I was a child some people said there were fairies at the bottom of the garden.


    With the way the numbers stack up, they would have needed active support from the SNP, not just quiet acquiescence. I’m sure Salmond would still have been pulling the strings, because otherwise he could quietly step up aside and let the thing collapse whilst arguing that he could no longer support a government that wasn’t doing x,y and z for Scotland and spin it to his advantage.

    You can also argue that in the long run a Tory government is good for the SNP north of the border.

    Anyway, all of which is largely irrelevant as I can’t see any circumstances where the SNP and Labour would manage to successfully work together at the moment.

  3. @Roland LOL

    I agree with your 11.13. The point about a Tory government helping the SNP longer term is entirely right IMPO. I welcome this, as anything which helps the Scots to take their great nation and remove themselves from the very ununited kingdom is good.

  5. Reposted from the Independent today and worth a read whatever your persuasion

    [Just a link if you must David, but really, if Johann posted it here himself, he wouldn’t get through moderation any more than, as Roland suggests below, Simon Heffer would – AW]

  6. Okay numbers game. Only 323 MPs needed for a majority ((650-5sinn Fein)/2)
    258 labour, 57 LDs, 3 SDLP (take Labour whip usually I believe) + 1 Alliance (linked with LDs) this gives 319 only 4 short of majority. Sylvie hermon was likely to be very sympathetic (Left UUP because of their link up to Tories) . The animosity between SNP and Labour is not there between Plaid and Labour and the greens would probably been able to be brought on side. In my opinion this would have been not that more unstable than the currnet coalition.

  7. @DAVID B
    Johann Hari, for Gods sake. Would you like 45 minuets reading of Simon Heffer to balance the books.

    [Snip, a lot of your comments are getting a bit close to the non-partisan line lately Roland – AW]

  8. GrahamBC

    As a lot of us pointed out at the time on this site, though the numbers for a rainbow coalition were (just) there, the practicality wasn’t. You’ve got to get all those disgruntled Labour backbenchers and poor-attending NI MP’s to turn up all the time, every time – not to mention people dying, having babies and so on. A new election, with only the Tories having the money to fight it, would be inevitable and the public mood would be to “give the Conservatives a chance”.

    Given that, Clegg played a blinder in the negotiations – though of course Cameron’s political life also depended on it. Whether the Lib Dems have done so well subsequently is another matter. Osborne kicked a lot of their stuff into the long grass in the budget and to Cable’s disgust seems to be getting away with it. He must still have the photo of DC and the goat from the Bullingdon Club.


    If you look carefully you’ll see Simon Heffer is really Johann Hari in a ginger wig. Columnists don’t get paid what they used to, y’know.

  9. @ Roger Mexico
    Understand your point and appreciate what you say, but i believe desperate times require desperate measures.

  10. That multi-party coalition would never had worked, no matter who was the poor sod who got to be “in charge” of it all. Basically all those nationalists would have demanded “no cuts on my backyard” leaving England (Toryland) to pick up the whole bill for the last 13 years. Once the whole wobbly thing had fallen apart, the ensuing election defeat would probably have ruined Labour nearly as badly as 1983.

    In reality Labour aren’t necessarily condemned to being out of power for 18 years as long as they choose a plausible leader. I doubt David Milliband is another Tony Blair (ignoring what came after 2001)
    in the popularity stakes, but you don’t need a 10% swing and 179 Majority to get into power.

  11. @GrahamBC

    The major problem with the rainbow alliance was not the inherent instability but the deals that would have been required to get people on board. Bribing various smaller parties may have worked in the short term but the resentment from the rest of the country in a time of cuts would have guaranteed a heavy defeat at a forthcoming election for Labour. The Tories would have just kept reminding the English of where the money was going and how the sole purpose was to keep a defeated govt in power.
    We’ve seen already the deals that the Coalition has had to make and the problems that that is causing. Multiply that and add some national resentment and you’ve got interesting times.

  12. @GrahamBC

    “Too many Labourites put party before country and opposed a coalition.”
    You seem to be implying it was Labour’s fault that the Lib/Dems ended up in bed with the Conservatives.

    Surely the Lib Dems have to take responsibility for their actions/decisions if they want to have any credibility? The line “It’s all Labour’s fault” does’nt wash.

    FWIW, I don’t think a Rainbow Coalition was on the cards. The numbers just did’nt stack up and the coalition would have been vulnerable to the whims of maverick MP’s, or those with a particular axe to grind.

    As I’ve said before. The Conservatives should have been left to form a minority government and to produce a produce a budget which met the approval of the House. All the parties were in agreement that the deficit had. to be tackled.

  13. What was being considered was just a deal between Lab and Lib Dems to run a minority government. No deals with anyone else. This would have been challenging, not ideal, but other parties would have been unlikely IMO to bring such a government down as none of them were tory sympathetic. I believe why Brown tried was because he believed that the tory economic policy would seriously damage Britain and needed to avoided a priori. Possibly had similar concerns over constitutional policy

  14. @GrahamB

    I think Brown was concerned Tory economic policy would damage Britain’s economy.

    Concerns I share! :-(

    I must say I am deeply moved by Gordon Browns concerns for the economy under the Tories. In fact I have not been as moved since Margaret Thatcher spoke about St Francis.

  16. @GrahamBC

    ‘What was being considered was just a deal between Lab and Lib Dems to run a minority government. No deals with anyone else’.

    Do you really think that there would be no price to pay for the smaller parties going along with your minority govt? The warm feeling of stopping the Tories would be enough. Next you’ll be telling them that it’s raining.

    Every few weeks you’d be paying out more Danegeld to keep the smaller parties in line. You’re right that there would not be any upfront deal just a steadily increasing list of ransom demands. Remember the negotiations about 42 days detention. Except that that would be every few weeks and for what, to keep the Tories out. I am sure that you think any price is worth paying however the electorate might disagree.

  17. John – equally sized what population or registered voters?
    Re – last nights programme as a LP member i would say DC came across as the most honourable.Clegg not only appeared to disemble re the LP AV offer but also on defecit reduction.
    Robinson to Clegg when did you change you mond about having tpo go quicker and deeper, Clegg – March; Robinson, why campaign on a different platform, Clegg waffle.
    New kind of politics, ha?
    What is clear is that any future LD/Lab deal after a GE would require Clegg to go.

  18. @Jimjam

    equally sized what population or registered voters

    As far as a charge of gerrymandering is concerned is does not matter. The only thing that matters is that the rule is applied universally. I am concerned about the protected Scottish constituencies and there is a case to answer there, but not as far as the other constituencies are concerned IMO.

    I agree with you totally about Clegg v Robinson. clegg did look shifty and uncomfortable.

    I was surprised how well Mandelson came over.

  19. @TonyOtim @Ben Foley

    “‘Lab+LD+NI formal allies (APNI/SDLP)+Plaid Cymru+SNP
    would have had a majority of 5 (given SF don’t take seats)’
    … But the numbers really weren’t there. In Scotland its hard to see any stability of a pact between the SNP and Labour. If Brown and Clegg have a mutual antipathy, I think its fair to say that Salmond & Brown do as well.”

    Once Brown removed himself from the equation by announcing he would stand down as Labour leader that became irrelvant. If EB/DM had sharpened their elbows and ‘gone for it’ leading negotiations that they seriously wanted to succede I think EB/DM could be PM now

    “The whole house of cards would have collapsed by October, even if the will had been there.”

    I’m not convinced that it would have done, Tony: a deal that included PR without a referendum and some special financial concessions to Scotland and Wales might have stuck. But EB clearly didn’t want to do such a deal.

    @ Roger Mexico

    “A new election, with only the Tories having the money to fight it, would be inevitable and the public mood would be to ‘give the Conservatives a chance'”

    Certainly there would have been a lot of pressure on Lab and LDs to avoid that.

    “Given that, Clegg played a blinder in the negotiations”

    I disagree. He is in danger of destroying his party, and for what? A referendum on AV that they will probably lose, once the Tories put serious money into the anti campaign, and ‘policy concessions’ that amount to the Tories ditching policies they wanted to ditch anyway.

    I’m not even a LP supporter, but I absolutely agree. Clegg going into ‘negotiations’ demanding immediate spending cuts, contrary to his own Party manifesto shows bad faith on his part (certainly with the voters, and probably with Labour, too).

    @ KeithP

    “…. Once the whole wobbly thing had fallen apart, the ensuing election defeat would probably have ruined Labour nearly as badly as 1983.
    In reality Labour aren’t necessarily condemned to being out of power for 18 years as long as they choose a plausible leader.”

    I am pretty sure it is that sort of calculation which is why Labour never negotiated seriously.

  20. Sadly for the centre left, the numbers were not there for
    a Labour-led coalition.

    Also, as the BBC prog showed last night the Labour leadership was exhausted and had no detailed proposals to put to the LD’s

    Now, as Jack Straw says in today’s TIMES, the Labour Party led (by Ed Miliband?) has the opportunity to be the ONLY party of opposition, to harry the government remembering Disraeli’s dictum that the opposition’s duty is to oppose. At the same time to carve out a sensible revisionist position. And keep their nerve to win in 2015

  21. @John Fletcher

    Point by point

    “1. They lost the election”

    Er I think that is obvious: but as a Conservative party supporter have you yet accepted that you did not win the election?

    Because that seems to be at the bottom of the ‘Tory platform with a little bit of Lib Demmery sprinkled here and sprinkled there’ that will actually cause the collapse of this coalition long before 2015. It is what is causing the slow-burn collective nervous breakdown of the Lib Dems. The original précis coalition agreement seemed to be a blend of both manifesto’s: the platform that has emerged (in an ill thought out premature and scattergun manner) does not.

    The Colin’s and the Roland’s will no doubt bash out furious posts that point out that Cameron has 307 MP’s and Clegg 57: but that is not a justification for coalition government (in the Continental sense) it’s an argument for being backed on no confidence and certain key pieces of legislation.

    “2. GB was deeply unpopular.”

    Through the end of 2009 onwards I was one of the few regular Labour posters who consistently said that Brown was a disaster and that we would both not win and not be the biggest party in a hung parliament. But you weren’t around then obviously.

    “3. The LD party is an independent party and not an annex of the Labour party to be used when they find it convenient.”

    See answer to (1) and – just as one example amongst many- today’s’ independent.

    It is the *Conservative party* that has been acting as if the LD party is an annex of itself.

    “4. The coalition is strong, successful and popular.”

    Despite being in its early stages the popularity of the government as a whole is meandering in a downward trend and the LD voting intention has collapsed by around a third. The coalition has done hardly anything tangible- as the Indie points out today the one major issue where the concrete impact was known by the population- the slashing of the school building programme- proved extremely unpopular for the very reason that its impact could be clearly and easily understood. As more and more policy “impacts” crash home into Joe and Jane Public’s life so the Governments numbers will inexorably go south.

    “5. You can’t keep borrowing money to featherbed inefficient or non productive government jobs without ruining the economy because of punative interest repayments and lack of market confidence.”

    That was not the plan and this is either wilful misrepresentation or a total lack of comprehension. Labour planned to halve the deficit via cuts (the other half via growth and productivity) and over a longer time span. As many internationally renowned and Nobel winning economists have warned: the coalitions approach runs the risk of making the economic situation far worse. Not just the employment and public services situation but the deficit as well if tax receipts collapse and benefits explode due to a massive increase in public and private sector unemployment.

    “6. Equally sized consituencies IS NOT gerrymandering.”

    If equally populated- agreed.

    If equally geographically sized- that is rotton borough style manipulation.

  22. I don’t think it’s entirely true to say that Labour put party interest entirely above that of the country regarding this purported anti-tory alliance. Lots of things need to be done after all that sitting and hoping things will get better by Gordon Brown, and to do these things, you need a government at least capable of pushing some of it through. The Lab/LibDem alliance would have seriously struggled to get workable legislation through and we’d have been in for another period of waiting for necessary changes to be made whilst politicians argued.

    It was just as well this didn’t come to pass: at least the current government has a workable majority that isn’t vulnerable to minor spats, the odd maverick or someone suddenly dying. Apart from this limited sense, I agree that party interest comes first. I don’t really expect much else.

  23. Registration of voters in the newly drawn up seats will be vital for Labour.

    Labour activists will need to get non-registered people to register and get out the vote.

    Like Obama did in the USA.

    Remember Peel in 1835; ‘Register, Register, Register’

  24. ROB

    “The Colin’s and the Roland’s will no doubt bash out furious posts ”

    I have yet to see a furious post from my esteemed friend Roland. He doesn’t do “furious” Rob-just good humoured destruction of Labour cant.( and that rhymes with ant, not aunt)

    As for me -no bashing Rob-my old keyboard wouldn’t stand it.

    No Rob-“furious” is what you increasingly do-with more & more words attached.

    I know your world has collapsed Rob, and the State Constructed Utopia in which you believe so fervently has been postponed ( again)-but you really need to calm down a bit.

    May I , in all good faith, recommend Bill Bailey’s Little Book of Calm. Sadly you can’t buy it-but if you watch the appropriate episode of Black Books ( Series1 Episode 1) you will , I feel sure benefit immensely from it.

  25. Sue

    Yes my pick from Robinson’s tv prog was partial.

    In defense though, it was in response to something Rob Sheffield posted ( I never learn -too old I suppose)

    Yes , I agree , there was something decidedly not quite right about the exchanges on Labours offer on AV. Who has pulled a fast one , I’m not sure-but someone did.

  26. Can I detect a sense of bitterness on here by many that Labour were thrown out at the last election.
    The Coalition are doing a fantastic job.. The economy has taken off like a rocket, massive growth last quarter, crime down last month, Massive airplane trade deal just done by David in India.. Need I go on ? Cheer up everyone, we have a fantastic government and David is going everywhere to get us wealth.. “go Dave go!

  27. While I think that the BBC programme was decent on the negotiations, there is too much credit given to it here in my opinion. The programme focused on the deal or no deal, but such minor issues such as the coalition agreement, the Queen’s Speech and alike were barely touched. So what the BBC showed (perhaps intentionally, even if it’s incorrect, because it makes good TV) that a bunch of power-hungry politicians were struggling to get the loot…

    But as there were so many opinions here, why should not I write down mine :-).

    There LibDem negotiating team was very carefully selected by the party leadership, there could not have been any willingness to go to Labour seriously. The Labour Party could not have offered a programme (irrespective the suggestion that they did not have) that could have stood up against the mathematics of the situation. It was a no go. The Tory Party needed the coalition more than anyone (could not refuse the coalition offer from Clegg without some electoral backlash).

    It does not mean that the mathematics was decisive – it was decisive in terms of what Labour could offer and compared to that the Tory offer, which, in many ways was an extended Labour offer was a no winner.

    The real question, could there have been a programme that would have overcome Parliamentary mathematics by exposing the opponents of small majority government in a way that even the fall would have been a gain to Labour? Probably yes, but they didn’t have such a programme and none of the candidates offer anything substantially different from the coalition (David Milliband’s article a week back in the FT was particularly revealing in this).

  28. @ Wayne

    “The Coalition are doing a fantastic job”

    I haven’t seen many things as vacuous as the published achievements of the departments in structural reform since May. Who said that spinning is not well and alive? I don’t recommend it before meal or during meal.

    ht tp://www.number10.gov.uk/other/2010/07/structural-reform-plans-53023


    ‘Direct taxes could be raised especially on the highest earners, wealth taxes, windfall banking taxes, cutting trident, not spending money on “free” schools and academies etc etc. You may not agree with these policies but they are alternative and less right wing’

    I was sitting next to a Labour stalwart at a recent Fabian event (Lord Alf Dubs) who is still an active working peer and very in touch) talking about why severe cuts etc were becoming a sort of political orthodoxy, and he told me that if Labour had won (or there had been a Lab-Lib deal) 20% and 40% rates of income tax would have been raised by 2p bringing in £40 billion over 5 years and making Labour’s preferred option of a deficit reduction package of 40% tax increases, 40% cuts and 20% proceeds of growth a realistic runner.

  30. Am I the only person to have come to the conclusion that “Wayne” is really a mischievous, retired, lady librarian living in Morningside?

  31. @ Roger Mexico

    “Am I the only person to have come to the conclusion that “Wayne” is really a mischievous, retired, lady librarian living in Morningside?”

    He is certainly mischievous – I don’t know the rest. Sometimes a bit tiring, but gave me an excellent opportunity to link that thing of government achievement :-). What is missing of the achievements there that the government managed to give us a nice, hot June and plenty of rain in July (at least here in the North West). It improved on the Labour government’s last summer signficantly and establishing the solid path to the autumn.

  32. @Laszlo
    Alas, the forecast this weekend is for high winds, low temperatures and drizzle on Saturday, followed by more Wayne and drivel on Sunday :(

  33. ROLAND

    I don’t think I am alone in finding your comments repetitive and tedious? Sometime ago I thought you ought to be given the benefit of the doubt as a good dose of polemics can be quite fun. I now think we can do without your right wing buffoonery on this board.

  34. LASZLO
    “ht tp://www.number10.gov.uk/other/2010/07/structural-reform-plans-53023”

    Just looked at these-thanks for the link..

    You omitted mention of the preamble & other explanations :-

    “The Prime Minister has announced new plans to hand power to the public with every department publishing a plan that sets clear priorities and measureable milestones.

    These Structural Reform Plans (SRPs) mean anyone can check that departments meet their commitments.

    They are the key tool of the Coalition Government for ensuring that departments are accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition Agreement.”

    …..”Below is a list of department SRPs published so far. The pdfs are a temporary measure and the data will be presented in a single location in a more open format at a later date”

    …..”Regular monthly progress reports on each of the above Structural Reform Plans are also published below. The publication of these monthly reports will promote transparency and accountability across Government and will allow people to check that departments are meeting their commitments:”

    What is your objection to this exactly?

  35. Roger, Laszlo, Cosmo
    I am deeply hurt and offended by your comments this evening.. I have always posted on here (without charge) for my professional advice. My comments are always non partisan and argued with incredible fact and political balance.
    It is without doub’t that I have contributed more to this site than any other!
    Once you three have reflected upon my great value, you will feel to offer an apology!

  36. @ Roger Mexico

    “Given that, Clegg played a blinder in the negotiations”

    I’ve been thinking more about that. The LDs were in the position of their dreams, the position they had been hoping for, for more than a generation: neither Lab nor Con could form a Govt without them. Indeed, beyond their dreams: both Lab and Con also wanted to avoid another election within a year or two (for differing reasons): the LDs had an incredibly strong negotiating position. And in terms of real concessions, all they got was a referendum on AV, and not even a commitment to neutrality during that referendum campaign from the Tory Party.

    To me, it looks more like Clegg was dealt a very good hand, and has ended up playing a losing game with it.

  37. @Wayne

    Please stop. I know you to be a 6th former. And not a lecturer.


    “I think Brown was concerned Tory economic policy would damage Britain’s economy”.

    You could argue that he has historical precedence on his side. The two recessions under the previous Conservative administration where – both times – more care was given to the deficit than to job numbers. It was a straight call last GE. Jobs or deficit. The coalition means the deficit gets priority. The recession will likely double dip as a consequence.

  38. @Wayne
    ” I have always posted on here (without charge) for my professional advice”
    Very noble of you – – – your contribution to Big Society I presume ?

  39. DAVIDB
    Spineless leftie’s like you usually love me.

    If Wayne was a 6th former he would support Labour.

  41. I think we may see a Tory take off again now that Labours recent mini poll bounce has flattened!
    I’m expecting Yougov 43/33/
    Very exciting times!

  42. Roland,
    I’m not a 6th former.. If I was, I’d be the oldest in the country at 45!
    Exciting Times!!

  43. Roland,
    Do sixth formers support Labour?
    I thought 16 year olds did? That’s why they wanted to lower the voting age to 16!

  44. If the LDs had agreed a coalition with Labour after Brown had resigned it would have meant a second unelected Labour Prime Minister with three years.

    That surely would have been unacceptable to the majority of the electorate and should have been unacceptable to the LDs on principle. Yet there was no reference to it in the BBC tv programme nor has there been any on this thread.

    I am left wondering why?

  45. @John Sartoris
    “unelected Prime Ministers”
    Suggest you check up on Sir Alec Douglas Home & John Major.

  46. @ John Sartoris

    That is because Britain is a parliamentary system not presidential and we DO NOT elect any Prime Minister, Parliament does this.

  47. On this poll, my guess is that Ed Miliband will win, if narrowly. It suggests that David Miliband is on the back foot, whereas his brother is on the advance. David Miliband was, almost literally, the “favourite son” candidate and from his starting position should be well ahead. But, for instance, my impression is that he has not got some important union endorsements that he would have hoped for.

    As I posted recently on the thread for David Miliband’s South Shields constituency, he may have too much “baggage”. Apart from past opportunities when he could, and to show leadership qualities probably should, have challenged Brown, it is becoming apparent that Foreign Policy is one of the areas in which Labour most needs to get away from its past in order to rebuild electoral support.

    I don’t think Ed Miliband would be much different as leader from his brother, but he would seem a fresher face to such voters as have much impression at all of the Labour leadership candidates.

    Ed Balls simply doesn’t have the presentation. I hate ageism, but there is no point after Brown in putting up another male leader who will look older than Cameron and Clegg when it comes to TV debate. And frankly, Balls also comes across as too much of an apparatchik.

    The Balls family would have been strongly advised to put forward Yvette Cooper. And did nobody have the imagination to put forward a job share candidacy, which would have at least been original? Ed and Yvette Balls would do a far better job at joint leadership than Cameron and Clegg.

    The poll shows that Andy Burnham has made surprisingly little impact, which is disappointing in that arguably he has the best grassroots credentials. Looking from outside, there is much to say in favour of Diane Abbot to give Labour a fresh start as leader, but it is very unlikely to happen.

    I haven’t seen the BBC programme about the post-election negotiations, but in relation to discussion on this thread can I point out that there was a viable coalition, in terms of the numbers, other than the ConDem one? And that was a Grand Coalition, on the lines of that some time ago in Germany, between the Conservatives and Labour.

    I have previously made a similar post on this site about a Grand Coalition. It has rightly been pointed out to me that this would have been simply unacceptable to party members. Over the past century, the Conservatives and Labour have become as deeply engrained into British political culture as two perpetually warring tribes (and deeply dependent on each other in consequence) as Rangers and Celtic in Scottish football. And of course the events of 1931, and the better performance of the Labour 1945 – 1951 than that of the Lloyd George coalition from 1918 – 1992, reinforce this.

    However, there are several reasons why a Conservative-Labour coalition should not be treated as out of the question:-
    1. At local level, Conservative and Labour activists often regard each other as more competent than the LibDems, for instance on local councils, whom they regard as unprincipled and tactically unscrupulous (I report the perceptions I observe without comment as to the actuality). And arguably this extends to Westminster as well. There are probably a considerable number of Conservatives who have been left on the backbenches who would regard themselves and their colleagues as more worthy of office than some of the LIbDem tail which has been appointed to positions in the coalition.
    2. On a considerable number of issues, Labour and the Conservatives are actually nearer to each other than the LIbDems. We are seeing common interests appearing between Labour and the Conservative faction which Cameron has left out in the cold in relation to opposition to AV. Policy on Europe is another obvious case in which Labour and Tory backbenchers have more in common than the LibDems and the Coalition ministers who have compromised with the LibDems.
    3. Perhaps most importantly, maximising one’s strength in a negotiating position depending upon being flexible to consider different possibilities. The “New Scientist” published an article in the run-up to the election pointing out that the various parties’ strength in a situation when they are negotiating possible coalitions depends upon the number of viable alliances which each party can participate. By apparently not considering, and I suspect not even imagining, a coalition with Labour, the Conservatives left themselves with only one viable coalition option. The LibDems at least built up the illusion that they had two, although the numbers did not add up for one with Labour. As a result, the coalition agreement appears to give far more to the LibDems than is warranted by their strength relative to the Conservatives. I suspect that Conservative backbenchers in particular, not least those left out of office to give space to LibDems, are now realisin this.

    In relation to the last paragraph , can I ask, does anybody as a matter of fact know whether Cameron and his negotiating team at any time between election day and the formation of the ConDem alliance contact Brown or other Labour leaders (it is difficult to imagine that Cameron would have worked with Brown personally) about a Con-Lab alliance? I presume not, but I would just like to check.

    For the future, the Conservatives, and indeed Labour, need to review their negotiating tactics in case there is another “hung” parliament, or in case the ConDem coalition breaks up in the current one. It would be worth the more secretive parts of the two parties’ machines having very confidential talks about what might be in a Conservative-Labour coalition agreement, to put in a hypothetical drawer for contingency purposes. Not least to keep the LibDems in their place. And since Cameron appears to have left a distinct Conservative group out of office, this faction also, even though it is on the Tory right, could find secret “dirty tricks” discussions with Labour useful.

    A specific scenario in which a Conservative-Labour coalition might take place is if there is an economic collapse after a “double dip”. Although this would probably be unacceptably like 1931.

    Getting back to our viewpoint as psephologists, it is an interesting question as to how far a Conservative-Labour coalition could prevent its two parties losing “tribal” support. And more generally, how voting intentions would evolve after such a coalition were set up.

    It is largely emotive loyalities to the two major parties, even though these are less than in the past, which prevent the breakthrough of new parties (such as the Greens or UKIP). For those of us who see both major parties as devastating failures in terms of their poor economic policies, bureacratic inefficiency or worse and chronic failure to invest in research and industrial development there are crucial questions as to how to use technical psephological knowledge either to totally overhaul at least one of the existing parties or to create a situation in which a new one can take power democratically,

    And there is no sign of such an overhaul coming about as a result of the current Labour leadership election.

  48. Sorry for entering the fray late about last night’s programme…

    I thought it was okay, but occasionally Nick Robinson let the Interviewee off the hook. Many things said by (mainly Nick Clegg) I thought really required a searching follow up, but then again Nick Robinson isn’t John Humphreys.

    My own view is that Ed Balls especially for the Labour view was quite happy with the defeat.

    Maybe he shared a view I always held, that for long-term survival the party needed to lose, get over Blair/Brown era and renew itself. If a Coalition had been cobbled together with Labour, then I think annihilation was on the cards in 2015. Like in 1992, when it was time for the Tories to go, and by winning they assured Electoral disaster next time. When it’s time to go, you’ve got to go.

    Overall David Cameron came out of it very well, but Nick did seem shifty.

    Very good use of 1 hour though…

  49. @COSMO
    I think the point Mr Sartorius was making involved 3 in a row. Not the odd bod 30 years apart. This business of loosing elections really is making you guys fractious.
    Even a nice old gentleman like me has been savaged.
    Luckily it has not damaged my sensitive female side.

  50. @John Sartoris

    Well the Tories did not win the election, although they were the largest party. Is DC an ‘elected’ prime minister?

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