The Indy has hired polling company ORB to do a survey on the Labour leadership contest. It has a large sample size at 2,000, so for those of us who are already nerdily watching the proceedings, the results were revealing.
First, the more predictable stuff: Burnham is seen by the largest number of respondents as the candidate most likely to lead Labour back to government – although somewhat narrowly. Andy scored 36% to Kendall’s 25%. Cooper was third on 20% with good ol’ Jeremy last at 18% (Yvette narrowly missing out on the wooden spoon there). Burnham came first, I think, because most people think he’s going to win (the leadership campaign, I mean; not the general election). It’s immaterial anyhow: none of them are going to be prime minister.
An interesting number from the poll is that Liz Kendall is thought by those in the 18-24 year old bracket to be the most electable, way out in front with 43%. Whether this is because people in this age range are more liberal and thus think Liz is the best bet as a result (a nice thought), or because young people have more political nous than anyone older (a comforting notion as well), who knows.
But while I enjoyed looking through the poll’s findings, truth is the numbers presented are academic if you want to understand who’s actually going to follow Ed Miliband in the Labour pantheon come autumn. Because it won’t be the general public who decides, but rather the Labour Party membership. The commentariat often forget this, a case of what I like to call Michael Howard Syndrome. Labour members tend to be far to the left of even your average Labour voter; perhaps Corbyn has more of a shot than most people give him credit for in this race.
Or perhaps it’s the under-24s 43% for Liz Kendall we should revisit. Various polling suggests that generation are increasingly more liberal, less socialist. This could reflect itself in the September vote as Kendall gets more support than many were expecting. Or the hardened red tendency shines through and, sick of the decades of compromises, the Labour membership elects a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who fully reflects their beliefs.
But I’m being terribly facetious here – neither Kendall nor Corbyn shall triumph. It’s long been a two horse race between Burnham and Cooper, two people running on the dullest platforms in the history of British politics. Sadly, that’s what tends to win out in the end; triumph of the swill. People are overly attracted to the proverbial safe hands – even when they aren’t supposed to be conservatives. Or when the hands in question aren’t actually all that safe when you stop and think about it objectively.
Im conclusion, the choice between Kendall and Corbyn is a real one. Either the Labour Party wants to be a social liberal party, or it wants to be a no bullshit fully socialist outfit. However, this doesn’t appear to be a choice they want to make – at least not yet. As a result, one of the two fudgers seems destined to triumph.