Has Populus thwarted Miliband’s chances?

Has Populus thwarted Miliband’s chances?

    What’s the point of ousting Gord if Labour would do no better?

It seems an age ago, but it was only the end of July, that David Miliband produced his famous Guardian article that was seen as a challenge to Brown’s leadership. The Foreign Secretary denied it of course but the widespread assumption was that he was a laying down a marker for a future leadership challenge.

Since then, until today, there has been no proper polling evidence about the effect of such a leadership change on Labour’s election prospects.

I have argued that the best way of showing this is through the “named leader question” – when pollsters like ICM and Populus ask how people would vote with Brown/Miliband as Labour leader against Cameron’s Tories. As I was hoping Populus did ask the question in its latest survey and the figures are out this morning.

This is how Peter Riddell reports it in the Times: “The new Populus poll for The Times, undertaken at the weekend, suggests that David Miliband would not necessarily do any better than Mr Brown. When voters are asked to imagine that Mr Miliband replaces Mr Brown, Labour is shown on 26 per cent, against 27 per cent now. The Tories are on 46 per cent, against 43 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats on 16, against 18, per cent. These figures are comparable, with an adjustment for voters reluctant to declare their preferences and a reallocation of some don’t-knows, though the normal voting intention question does not mention leaders by name”

This form of polling is controversial but it did prove to be prescient about Brown before he took over.

There’s no point in Labour going through the agony of ousting Gordon and electing a new leader unless that would help their electoral prospects.

Mike Smithson


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