David Miliband most popular choice for next Labour leader, poll shows

Exclusive: Despite three years in office, survey finds few of Mr Corbyn’s front bench have broken through to the wider public consciousness

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Saturday 12 January 2019 23:02
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Jeremy Corbyn risks becoming 'Midwife of Brexit', says David Miliband

David Miliband is the most popular choice as next Labour leader, among members of the public who knew who they would choose, a new poll shows.

A survey by BMG Research found that while more than a third of people did not know who to pick (36 per cent), of those who did, 10 per cent would opt for the elder Miliband brother to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Despite three years in office, the poll also found few of Mr Corbyn’s front bench have managed to break through to the wider public consciousness, with both Mr Miliband and Yvette Cooper scoring more highly than big hitters like John McDonnell, Sir Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and Emily Thornberry.

Ms Cooper, the chair of the home affairs committee, was next with 6 per cent, followed by Sir Keir, the shadow Brexit secretary, and Chuka Umunna on 4 per cent, and shadow chancellor John McDonnell on 3 per cent.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people said they had never heard of any of these senior Labour figures.

When pollsters asked more than 1,500 people which of the Labour politicians they had heard of, 74 per cent of voters said Mr Miliband and half said Ms Cooper.

Mr McDonnell, a close ally of the Labour leader, had 45 per cent, while pro-EU campaigner Mr Umunna secured 39 per cent of votes and Ms Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, was on 34 per cent.

Rising stars in the shadow cabinet such as Rebecca Long-Bailey and Ms Rayner fared worse, with 10 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Senior figures such as deputy leader Tom Watson and Sir Keir were only recognised by around a third of people.

Mr Miliband was foreign secretary during Gordon Brown’s premiership and was a candidate in the 2010 leadership election, losing out to his younger brother Ed.

After resigning as an MP, he moved to head up the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in New York, but there have been persistent rumours that he could return to frontline politics.

Speculation was fuelled by a series of public interventions over Brexit last year, including an article in December in which he branded Mr Corbyn’s policy as “confusion at best and a fantasy at worst”.

Source Note: BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,514 GB adults online between 8th & 11th January. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.

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