LDV survey: Lib Dem members think Mili-D would make best Labour leader (but Balls would be best for us)

by Stephen Tall on September 23, 2010

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the early race for the party presidency, the London mayoral selection, Trident, and the Labour leadership. Over 400 party members have responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results.

This Saturday we find out who will be the next Labour leader. The assumption is it will be neck-and-neck between the Brothers Miliband, David and Ed. David has been the favourite throughout the summer-long contest, but in the last few weeks theres been a sense that the race has tightened with many folk now tipping Ed to sneak victory.

We asked our sample of Lib Dem party members two questions about the Labour leadership; two questions which we last asked at the end of May. It’s interesting to see how views have changed in the past few months.

First, we asked: Putting aside your Lib Dem allegiance who do you think would make the best Labour leader from the Labour party’s own point of view? (Figures from May in brackets.)

  • 38% (17%) – David Miliband
  • 31% (37%) – Ed Miliband
  • 14% (9%) – Andy Burnham
  • 10% (25%) – Diane Abbott
  • 5% (3%) – Ed Balls
  • (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion = 13% (24%).)

As you can see, there’s been a heck of a turnaround among Lib Dem members in perceptions of the Labour leadership hopefuls. Back in May, party members saw Ed Miliband as the best potential leader for Labour, with Diane Abbott in a strong second place, and David Miliband languishing in a distant third place, on just 17%.

Spool forward four months, and it’s David Miliband who is now reckoned by Lib Dem members to be the best choice for the Labour party: indeed, he’s doubled his ratings. To be fair to Ed, though suport for him is lower, he’s still a strong second. But it’s Diane Abbott whose support among Lib Dems appears to have collapsed, down from 25% to just 10%. Though she has taken a strong and principled line on civil liberties, her campaign has been lacklustre, with little of originality to say about Labour’s future. Indeed, it’s Ed Balls who has made the running as the left-leaning candidate with most to say on the biggest issue of them all, the economy.

Next we asked: And which of the following declared Labour leadership contenders do you think would be to the best political advantage of the Lib Dems? (Figures from May in brackets.)

  • 38% (47%) – Ed Balls
  • 37% (22%) – Diane Abbott
  • 10% (5%) – Ed Miliband
  • 8% (6%) – David Miliband
  • 7% (6%) – Andy Burnham
  • (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion = 12% (24%).)

Put bluntly, this question asks, ‘Who do you think would make the worst Labour leader?’ Back in May, Ed Balls was the runaway winner with 47% of the vote. However, his lively campaign appears to have — if not won Lib Dems over — at least shown that the combative Mr Balls could pose a threat to the party if he were elected. That said, he still tops our poll, which tells its own story about his perceived credibility. Quite simply he’s seen as a tribalist bully, an unattractive combination which party members feel will play badly with the wider public.

Again, it’s Diane Abbott who appears to have lost out most during the campaign, with many more Lib Dems now perceiving her as the weakest potential Labour leader, up from 22% to 37%. As in May, neither of the Milibands, nor Andy Burnham, are seen to be much to the political advantage of the Lib Dems: to damn them with faint praise, they are seen as safe pairs of hands.

You can catch up with the results of all our previous party members’ surveys by clicking here.