The YouGov survey might be ‘just one poll’ in a notoriously tricky race to predict, but it has sent shockwaves throughout the Labour party. Tristram Hunt and Tony Blair have been activated to plead with the party to stick to the centre ground, while the other leadership camps are taking differing views on what it means.
Andy Burnham’s campaign do not seems too worried and thinks it spells trouble for Yvette Cooper. A source in the Burnham camp says:
‘It shows that Yvette is dead in the water, it’s a two horse race and she’s gone. We are ahead with members, just, and we’ll continue to fight for every vote.
On the Jeremy Corbyn threat, Team Burnham believe their candidate’s ability to win will triumph in the end:
‘It’s important for people to understand that when you get Andy, he is the only the candidate that can combine values and victory. With Jeremy, many people would argue that he is Labour to his core but I think it would be very hard to find someone who says he could win an election.’
Team Cooper strongly disagree with this analysis and think it’s Burnham for whom the poll spells trouble:
‘It’s wishful thinking from Andy Burnham’s team. They know that running left. as Burnham has done, means he can’t beat him [Corbyn]. Only Yvette running from the centre can.’
Liz Kendall’s campaign on the other hand appear to have accepted its role in the leadership race as the speaker of difficult truths, rather than the campaign that wins. A spokesman says:
‘We will leave the psephology to others. We’re focused on talking to party members about how Labour wins again in 2020.’
Prior to the YouGov poll, some felt that the wave of Corbyn-mania had peaked and the race would become a two-way fight between Burnham and Cooper, with Burnham as the favourite to win.
But Cooper has also received a boost from a survey of Labour councillors conducted by Anglia Ruskin University, putting her in first place with 31 per cent of the first preference votes and Burnham trailing just behind on 30 per cent. But in this survey of elected representatives, Corbyn is in third place with 25 per cent of the vote and Kendall on just 14 per cent. Assuming Corbyn doesn’t win, the problem facing whoever wins this leadership race will be holding together a Labour party around the centre ground, while dealing with a notably more prominent left wing faction.