New Poll Data Makes Grim Viewing for Labour

The latest polling from the Guardian/ICM series will serve as an unwelcome interruption to Labour MP's holidays. Labour is 15-points behind the opposition Conservatives compared to 5-points ahead at the same time last year. The Guardian also shows that Gordon Brown had better be worried:

Many Labour MPs are panicking. Another August poll, that of 2006, offers some clue as to why. At that time, Labour under Tony Blair was a mere nine points behind, on 31% to the Tories' 40%. Yet those ratings, seen as damaging for Labour, encouraged supporters of Brown to pursue the September "coup" which forced Blair to announce his intention to stand down within a year. Now that Conservative lead is six points greater - incentive to a new group of plotters to challenge Brown.

However, those clever people at our favourite newspaper also did some polling on how David Miliband, Brown's heir-apparent since he threw his hat into the ring, the results:

And yet, as it stands, many more voters would prefer Cameron to be prime minister, even if Miliband was the alternative, the ICM poll suggests... In May 2006 the Guardian/ICM poll asked voters to compare Brown and Blair on the same traits as today's poll. Brown came out favourably on nine of the 11 categories.

Today Miliband wins on five... in so far as voters have formed a view of the 43-year-old foreign secretary, much of their opinion of him is positive. For all Brown's concentration on the challenges ahead, voters believe Miliband looks to the future more and is more in tune with them, particularly among the young... Among 18- to 24-year-olds, only 4% say Brown is on their wavelength, compared with 19% for Miliband.

Here again, however, more than three-quarters of voters say "neither" or "don't know". In a head-to-head with Cameron, 18- to 24-year-olds are the only category to believe that Miliband would make a better prime minister.

While I am not overly optimistic that Labour have a chance of winning the next election, I would add a cautionary note that most outside of the political class do not know much, if anything, about Miliband and, therefore, polling is unreliable for the most part when trying to predict how his approval ratings now would translate to a general election. Even so, it does not look good for Labour, not good at all.

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