Key Labour councillors are backing Ed

Published: 12 November 2014 at 10:52

Ed Miliband (Photo courtesy of the Financial Times)

Anglia Ruskin poll suggests Miliband is greater electoral asset than Alan Johnson

A new poll released today by Anglia Ruskin University's Labour History Research Unit suggests that despite recent negative headlines, Labour Party activists are keeping faith with leader Ed Miliband.

The data, compiled by Dr Richard Carr and available in full below, draws on a survey carried out yesterday which was answered by 202 Labour Party councillors in key marginal constituencies ahead of the next General Election.

Dr Carr, Lecturer in History at Anglia Ruskin University, surveyed councillors from the 106 target seats Labour have on their hit list for 2015, as well as the 50 Labour-held seats that are most vulnerable to a Conservative swing.

The results from these 202 councillors show:

  • Three-quarters (74.6%) do not think Miliband should resign even if newspaper speculation surrounding his leadership continues and Labour's poll lead disappears.
  • 73.1% think infighting is hurting the party more than the 26.9% who pointed to the leader.
  • In the wake of the weekend's #webackEd Labour hashtag, five out of six (83.5%) councillors surveyed declared that they also 'back Ed'.
  • Whilst the poll took place prior to Alan Johnson ruling himself out of becoming leader last night, 60.1% stated that Ed Miliband was more of an electoral asset in their marginal constituency when offered a straight choice between the two - against Johnson's 39.9%.
  • Councillors think Miliband is doing better than both David Cameron (44.5% agree, 36.5% disagree) in 2009 and Neil Kinnock in 1991 (50.3% agree to 28.3% disagree), the year before they both contested a General Election.
  • Almost eight in ten (79.3%) felt the recent speculation has been due to the 'press whipping up a story' rather than Miliband's own performance.

Commenting on the findings Dr Carr said: "These results will be welcome for the beleaguered Labour leader. He's taken a lot of flak over the past week but it appears the party base has stuck with him.

"The councillors we surveyed have flat out rejected any form of coup. Alan Johnson was clearly not viewed as the answer, even before yesterday's announcement.

"However, this is not a ringing endorsement of the status quo either. This poll shows Miliband needs to be pushing his talented shadow ministers to the fore much more significantly than he has to date, a path favoured by almost half our respondents (46%). Figures like Andy Burnham and Stella Creasy should be centre stage ahead of next May.

"The good news for Miliband is that key Labour activists don't perceive the 'weirdness' factor to be insurmountable. The bad news is that over 60% think Labour's actual policies need adjusting one way or the other.

"Our data suggests it isn't bacon sandwiches that may end up costing Labour, but undercooked policy. Labour's first aim should be to address their ideological timidity, not just Miliband's foibles. The party is more content than the recent speculation suggests, but there is work to do."