In poll position – the latest on the leadership contest

Elliot Chappell

Exciting news: we have released the results of our leadership poll conducted by Survation. In the weighted survey of LabourList readers who are also party members, Rebecca Long-Bailey came out top with 42% of first preferences while Keir Starmer was close behind on 37%. The findings suggests that the Camden MP does better in terms of second and third preferences, but it still is not enough to cancel out Long-Bailey’s lead in the initial round. According to the poll, she would very narrowly win with an overall 51% to his 49% if the vote took place tomorrow.

The research will be a welcome boost to Long-Bailey’s campaign, which has been slow to get off the ground. It puts her in an excellent position as the first assumption of this race re-emerges: that the loyal frontbencher is Jeremy Corbyn’s natural successor with a membership that is largely on the left of the party.

But this is not bad news for Starmer either. With the other three hopefuls lagging far behind – Jess Phillips on 9%, Lisa Nandy on 7% and Emily Thornberry on just 1% – the poll seems to suggest that the contest is very much a two-horse race. For members who don’t want to see Long-Bailey win the top job, this should prompt them to coalesce around Starmer as the most viable alternative.

Nandy – who placed fourth – may have performed badly in the poll but Twitterati consensus is that she certainly didn’t in an interview with Andrew Neil last night. The leadership contender sat down with the BBC’s toughest interviewer and gave a confident account of her policy platform as he offered a typical grilling. She seemed to fly through the conversation largely unscathed, as Neil failed to pin her down on various issues.

The Wigan MP avoided giving flippant answers – although, for one tantalising moment, she did seem as if she was going to pluck a figure from the air for a new top rate of tax. We may also hope that she does regret part of her response on the independence movement in Scotland, in which she seemed to suggest that we should look to the example of Spain and Catalonia – yes, the same Catalonia where police violently attacked citizens and central government locked up several local politicians.

Nandy doubled-down on her newly announced backing for freedom of movement, which she set out in a key speech earlier in the day. This might have been a bit of a surprise for some, and may prove problematic with her more Leave-inclined supporters, but it’s a popular position with the wider membership and should allay concerns that her leadership would mean a shift to the right on immigration.

We hope to see all of the candidates sit down with Neil over the next few weeks and, on top of that, we’ll get to see them go head-to-head in the upcoming leadership hustings. After having aired lots of concerns about the locations, the contenders will kick-off with the first one in Liverpool this Saturday. It will be the first chance for members to judge the candidates together, and will no-doubt help inform the CLP nominations that decide who gets on the final ballot, of which we saw the first two last night. Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner – who took 60% of first preferences in our poll – are ahead in the second stages of their respective races.

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