Late poll puts the cat among the pigeons

Today’s Sunday Times poll has set pigeons among cats and tossed works into spanners. Navigating the Byzantine wiles of the electoral college, You Gov has picked perceived wisdom up by the lapels, given it a good shake, and dumped it in the recycling bin by predicting a wafer thin victory for Ed Miliband.

Although the full figures have not yet been released, the poll shows David Miliband ahead 36% to 32% on 1st preferences, with Ed overhauling him 51% to 49% when 2nd preferences, 3rd preferences and the result of the Doggets Coat & Badge are factored in.

Over at Political Betting, Mike Smithson has a more detailed breakdown of the figures, which indicate Ed M will sneak the ‘Members’ section 52% to 48%,  romp home amongst the ‘Trade Unionists’ 57% to 43%, but fall flat with ‘MPs and MEPs’, losing 44% -56% to David.

The response from the two camps has been predictable. “We are not complacent but confident” – David. “The Party is uniting behind us” – Ed.

Privately, however, there is growing concern amongst MPs and senior party activists that the disparity between Trade Union support for Ed and Parliamentary support for David raises  the spectre of a ‘nightmare scenario’ , in which one of the brothers wins with a mandate from only one of three sections of the college.

Although much has been made in the last week of a David Miliband ‘sweep’, including a majority of affiliates, this is privately discounted by both camps, who acknowledge Ed’s lead amongst Trade Unions is unassailable. Similarly, although Ed’s campaign has been talking boldly of their own ‘full-house’, it’s virtually certain David will secure a majority amongst his parliamentary colleagues and MEP’s, though the margin is less clear. Paradoxically, there are even some around DM who believe the poll may provide a wake up call to waverers who had presumed an easy David Miliband victory and were toying with Ed as a ‘New Labour’ protest vote.

The key appears to be the Constituency section, and here the perception of the campaigns divide. Ed Miliband is convinced his ‘secret weapon’, “the largest field operation that any political campaign has had in a leadership election in the history of British politics”, (not really all that secret then), will put him over the edge. In contrast David Miliband’s camp has become increasingly confidant that his definition as the man to beat Cameron is cutting through. They also point out that polling of ‘activists’ is by nature self-selecting, and that their man has a broader appeal amongst the party’s more ‘passive’ members.

The danger, therefore, lies in the margins. With the Sunday times revealing the difference within the Constituency section to be little more than a sampling error, the possibility of a leader being crowned with a majority of only MPs or affiliates is real.

In such circumstances both campaigns will claim a win is a win. But it might prove a pyrrhic and politically debilitating one.

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One Response to “Late poll puts the cat among the pigeons”

  1. Robert says:

    The big question to ask are these people winners, right now I doubt I’d vote for any of them to run this country, and with the big guns now leaving Labour some even going over to the Tories I mean that out standing politician Blunkett, thats my baby, and Frank Field I’m a Labour Tory Tory Labour politician and the others, it’s not looking so good for Labour.

    lets see who shall I vote for then, liberal nope gone sold out, Labour nope sorry sold out under Blair, so whom I might as well vote for one of the smaller parties BMP nope gone sold out, greens nope to small, stay at home then

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