Labour Party 'divided and weak', say voters

The challenge facing Labour's next leader is laid bare in a poll published today, showing that disillusioned former voters view the party as weak, divided, out-of-touch and old-fashioned.

Demos, the left-of-centre think tank, said its findings demonstrated that the Labour brand had become "toxic" among previous supporters. It warned that it would take more than just a change of leader to tackle the party's severe image problem.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that 73 per cent of people who voted for Labour in the 2005 election but not this year thought the party was "weak", with 72 per cent believing it was "divided".

Almost two thirds (66 per cent) said the party was "out of touch", 60 per cent complained they never heard from the party and 58 per cent said it represented the past rather than the future.

Even the quarter of voters who remained loyal and still voted Labour felt the party was "out of touch". Older voters were significantly more likely to regard the party in this way, as were those in Southern England.

Richard Darlington, of Demos, said: "Labour's brand is broken and the new leader will need to do major repositioning based on new policy. "That doesn't mean Labour should ditch their values but they will need to dump some old policies and redefine the party with a new policy agenda and a brand that shows they have changed."

Leadership contender Ed Miliband said the poll showed that Labour must change if it was to win again.

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