Polls show Labour lead up to 8 per cent - but voters don't believe Ed Miliband's reforms will make a difference to the party
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 04 March 2014
Ed Miliband has failed to convince the public about the merits of his reforms to Labour's relationship with the trade unions, according to a poll for The Independent.
ComRes found that 41 per cent of people do not believe that the changes will make Labour more democratic, while only 34 per cent think that they will do so.
A special Labour conference at the weekend agreed to loosen Labour's ties with its union founders by ending the unions' 33 per cent vote share when the party chooses its leader and decided that union members should opt in to paying the political levy to the party rather than have to opt out if they do not wish to.
According to ComRes, some 46 per cent of the public believe that the unions have too much influence over the Labour Party, while 40 per cent disagree with this statement. One in three people who support Labour (32 per cent) agree that the unions enjoy too much power, but 59 per cent of them disagree. A majority of Labour supporters (59 per cent) think the reforms will make the party more democratic, but 23 per cent disagree.
Although Mr Miliband hailed the shake-up as the biggest changes to the party since 1918, they do not yet appear to have made much impact beyond the party's own supporters. Only a quarter of people who say they will vote Tory (27 per cent) think the changes will make Labour more democratic, while 57 per cent disagree. People who voted Liberal Democrat at the last general election are evenly split: 42 per cent of them believe the reforms will make Labour more democratic, but 41 per cent disagree.
However, there is some comfort in the ComRes findings for Mr Miliband: some 44 per cent of people agree that "the relationship between the Conservatives and big business is more of a problem than Labour's relationship with the trade unions," while 37 per cent disagree. One in five (20 per cent) of Tory supporters agrees with this statement.
Some 71 per cent of people who voted Labour at the last election agree that the Tories’ business links with business are more of a problem, as do 60 per cent of Lib Dem 2010 voters.
There is good news for Mr Miliband in the latest party ratings. The poll gives Labour an eight-point lead, up from just one point last month. Labour is now on 38 per cent (up five points), the Tories are on 30 per cent (down two points), the UK Independence Party is on 11 per cent (down three points), the Lib Dems on 10 per cent (up one point) and others on 11 per cent (down one point). If these figures were repeated at a general election on a uniform swing, Labour would win an overall majority of 98 seats.
ComRes interviewed 1,004 adults by telephone between February 28 and March 2, 2014. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
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