Ed Miliband just beating David in Labour race

Stephan Shakespeare
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Our latest YouGov/Sunday Times poll of Labour’s leadership election college shows the race is neck and neck. Six weeks ago David Miliband was leading his brother by eight points. Our poll on 7-9 September shows the two brothers are within two points of each other, with Ed Miliband narrowly ahead.

YouGov asked people their first preference, their second preference, and then who they would prefer between the two frontrunners. Samples of party members and members of Labour-affiliated trade unions were polled, and MPs’ preferences were based upon research by the website Left Foot Forward.

The main movement since July is amongst Trade Unionists. In the Trade Union section of the college 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 per cent to 43 per cent. At first sight, it would appear that the big trade unions’ endorsements of Ed Miliband had a decisive effect.

Putting all three parts of the college together this leaves Ed two points ahead, 51 per cent to 49 per cent. David Miliband is still ahead amongst MPs, but not enough to beat Ed Miliband’s lead among members and trade unionists. A key unknown is turnout, but notably over 40 per cent of those polled said they had already voted, and these respondents were more likely to back Ed Miliband.

Amongst both Labour members and trade unionists David Miliband is still seen as the candidate who would be most likely to win the next election, and most likely to make a good Prime Minister. This would suggest that members and trade unionists are backing the candidate best reflecting their views, rather than the candidate they see as most likely to win.

Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov.