Respite for Ed Miliband as party poll backs leader

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Getty Images
Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Getty Images
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LABOUR activists are backing the party’s embattled leader Ed Miliband after a new poll found that the majority of activists would continue to support him.

With a whispering campaign continuing against Mr Miliband, the findings of a survey of 202 Labour councillors in 106 key and 50 Labour marginals target seats provided him with a welcome boost.

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At least four Labour MPs have requested a leadership contest while other have privately expressed their dissatisfaction.

But the data of the views of activists, compiled by Dr Richard Carr from Anglia Ruskin University’s Labour History Research Unit revealed that 83.5 per cent backed Mr Miliband.

It also showed that 60.1 per cent thought the Labour leader was more of an electoral asset than former Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

And 73.1 per cent thought infighting is hurting the party more than the 26.9 per cent who pointed to the leader.

Dr Carr said: “He’s taken a lot of flak over the past week but it appears the party base has stuck with him.

“The councillors we surveyed have flat out rejected any form of coup.

“Alan Johnson was clearly not viewed as the answer, even before yesterday’s announcement.

“However, this is not a ringing endorsement of the status quo either.”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson ruled himself out of running for leader after an intense bout of speculation about Mr Miliband’s future, with deep unrest among the ranks of backbench MPs and claims that some of his top team are plotting against him.

The former home secretary branded the party’s top job an “onerous role” and said he would not be returning to front line politics.

The latest denial came after an intense bout of speculation about Mr Miliband’s future, with deep unrest among the ranks of backbench MPs and claims that some of his top team are plotting against him.

He said: “At the beginning of this parliament the Labour party lost precious months conducting an overlong leadership campaign that allowed the coalition government to develop its big fat lie about the global recession, while we in Labour examined our collective navel. The question of the leadership was settled then. It must not be re-opened.

“Miliband will lead us into an election that I am convinced we can win. It was my decision to walk away from frontline politics, not Ed’s.

“He knows that while I won’t return, I will do everything I can from the backbenches to put Labour into government, and Ed Miliband into 10 Downing Street.

“The position of Labour leader has been vacated twice during my time as a member of parliament. Both times I chose not to stand. I happen to think that a better person took this onerous role on each occasion.”

SEE ALSO

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Ed Miliband hits back at claims of plot to oust him

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