First leadership poll of party members

YouGov have released results of a poll of party members today and it includes what is bound to be the first of many polls asking about potential leadership candidates.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brown wipes the floor with the other names YouGov proposed, getting 57%, with John Reid on 10% and Alan Johnson on 8%. The only currently declared candidate, John McDonnell, manages only 5%, which is one reason that many on the left are not as keen on an immediate vacancy you might imagine.

Perhaps surprisingly, only 12% are as yet undecided. However, the poll only tested a limited range of names and we all know about Davis v Cameron. Equivalent polls on that here, for comparison.

Unfortunately, the deputy leadership question was rather flawed, missing out two all but openly declared candidates in Peter Hain and Jack Straw, so it is hard to say how useful the results are, but the race seems fairly open. If Hilary Benn throws his hat in the ring he has a good chance, with his 27% support giving him a 9-point lead over second-placed Alan Johnson.

The poll asks a range of other questions, and predictably people are already cherry-picking the results for the ones they like – Blair loyalist Stuart Bruce first off the blocks on that one.

The sample size is not big and there are not internals, so this poll comes with a health warning. But interesting results include:

  • Blair is perceived as much more right-wing than both party members and Brown; his performance ratings are still good, but Brown’s are far better.
  • Members want him to leave before May and set a timetable now, but want him to leave voluntarily; they would blame MPs, not Brown, if he was forced out.
  • Charles Clarke has narrowly retained some popularity but other ex-Cabinet Ministers such as Short, Milburn and Blunkett have not. Byers is deeply unpopular.
  • Party members oppose the Iraq war, though a significant minority (43%) still support it.
  • An overwhelming majority (75%) oppose committing troops to any future conflict with Iran.

There are various other questions, but some of them seem slightly weighted, others are too vague, and others present three options, which usually leads people to pick the compromise middle one.

4 Responses to First leadership poll of party members

  1. Andrea says:

    In these early polls I think name recognition is quite important and effect the results (hence the poor scoring of Cameron at the beginning of Tory race).

    So there’re at least 5% of party members who know who McDonnell is!

  2. As I say, it’s not really surprising that Brown has a big lead – but it is worth noting firstly that it is a very big lead indeed and secondly that there aren’t many floating voters, so you’d need to directly persuade current Brown voters to switch if you were to successfully challenge.

    It’s also worth just looking at how highly rated Brown is as Chancellor – 51% saying his record is “outstanding” and only 1% saying it’s bad.

    OTOH, there are 38% of party members who are not yet signed up to vote for Brown and challengers may draw some comfort from that; and of course the question did not include names such as Hilary Benn, John Denham, etc.

    Also, the results in this poll suggest that at least c30% of the party’s membership still adhere to many traditional Labour left positions and it’s possible that a challenge from somewhere to Brown’s left could win them over.

    Still, all in all it’s Brown’s to lose at the moment.

  3. Jon Rogers says:

    Of course one third of the electoral college is with us trade unionists – and McDonnell supports our union policies whereas most other candidates seem to view us as embarrasing relatives they would rather ignore…

  4. Quite right Jon, and there’s not been much done in the way of independent polling on trade union members. The only one I can find that was done this century (literally) was back in 2003 and that was entirely on trade union issues.

    I suspect that for now you will have a problem with name recognition among union members as much as with party members. But there may be the best part of a year for John, or any other challenger, to address that.

    There’s a long way to go yet and it’s by no means sewn up at this stage. Just ask David Davis…

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