Exclusive: Members expect Starmer to shift party to centre, poll shows

Sienna Rodgers

Keir Starmer is set to win Labour’s leadership contest decisively, while Angela Rayner is the clear frontrunner in the deputy leadership race, according to a new poll by Survation for LabourList.

The results of the new research also suggest that those eligible to vote in the internal elections believe Starmer will position the Labour Party “further to the centre” – rather than keep it broadly the same or turn left.

Labour members, registered supporters and affiliate members surveyed favoured Yvette Cooper as the next Shadow Chancellor, and a majority said outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn should not be invited into the next shadow cabinet.

Of those who had seen coverage of the leadership hustings and televised debates, 37% said Lisa Nandy had performed best of the three candidates, with 30% picking Starmer and 24% Long-Bailey.

Survation / LabourList poll


Round one

Keir Starmer 45%
Rebecca Long-Bailey 34%
Lisa Nandy 21%

Round two

Keir Starmer 64%
Rebecca Long-Bailey 36%

Deputy leadership:

Round one

Angela Rayner 35%
Richard Burgon 23%
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan 17%
Ian Murray 14%
Dawn Butler 10%

1,196 members of the selectorate from February 21st to 24th.

The poll showed Starmer clinching the leadership race on round two of counting, with 64% of votes against 36% for main rival Long-Bailey, while Rayner led in the deputy contest with 35% of first preferences.

Burgon placed second with 23%, while Allin-Khan and Murray are close to each other with 17% and 14% of first preference votes respectively. Butler was last with 10%. Burgon had the highest percentage ranking him last (47%), followed by Murray (42%).

With second preferences taken into account, however, Rayner reached the winning threshold by the third round of voting. According to the new poll, Burgon would receive a boost from the second preferences of those voters who had selected Dawn Butler.

But Rayner’s popularity as a second preference with Ian Murray, Rosena Allin-Khan and Richard Burgon supporters is high enough to assure her victory, the findings suggest.

On the future direction of Labour under the different potential leaders, respondents overwhelmingly thought Starmer would position the party “further to the centre” (79%) rather than “left” (1%) or “broadly the same” (18%).

The result reveals a stark contrast to perceptions of Long-Bailey, who they thought would keep Labour’s position “broadly the same” (76%). The next most popular option was “further  to the left” (18%).

The answers to the same question for Nandy were very close to the results for Starmer, indicating that Labour members, affiliate members and registered supporters see the two candidates as politically aligned.

Survey respondents were asked to pick from a range of possible successors to John McDonnell as Shadow Chancellor, and Yvette Cooper came top with former leader Ed Miliband second.

Clive Lewis, currently Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury and on the Labour left, was rated in third place, while Corbynsceptic favourite Rachel Reeves was the fourth most popular choice.

The full results were as follows:

Yvette Cooper 22%
Ed Miliband 15%
Clive Lewis 13%
Rachel Reeves 10%
Anneliese Dodds 6%
Jon Trickett 4%
Jonathan Ashworth 3%
John McDonnell* 3%
Barry Gardiner* 1%
Rebecca Long-Bailey* 1%
Another MP 4%
Don’t know 19%

*Write-in responses

A majority of the representative sample of Labour members, registered supporters and affiliate members surveyed, 54%, said Corbyn should not be invited to the shadow cabinet, with 35% saying he should be.

Asked about their “top issue or policy when it comes to choosing who to vote for in the Labour leadership contest”, respondents were most likely to indicate that “credibility as a potential Prime Minister” was a priority.

34% picked the credibility option, while 14% picked “maintaining current Labour platform”, 12% “anti-austerity policies”, 11% “uniting the party” and a further 11% “winning back traditional Labour voters”.

Breaking the results down by leadership preference, the credibility answer was chosen by 53% of Starmer supporters but only 5% of Long-Bailey backers, who instead said they prioritised continuity and anti-austerity policies.

The selectorate priorities for the deputy leader were different, the poll showed, with party unity coming top out of the answers selected by respondents.

Survation surveyed 1,196 Labour members, affiliate members and registered supporters between 21st and 24th February 2020 via LabourList’s database. They were interviewed online.

Data were weighted to the profile of the selectorate for the 2020 Labour leadership and deputy leadership elections – party members, affiliate members and registered supporters – and by age, sex, region, membership status, and 2016 Labour leadership vote.

LabourList has partnered up with Survation to add statistical heft to our reader surveys. Full data tables and methodology can be viewed here.

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