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Ed Miliband Plays Down Polling As Labour Fears Defeat In Batley & Spen

3 min read

Ed Miliband, an ally of Keir Starmer, has sought to play down the importance of opinion polls as Labour fights to avoid a crushing by-election defeat in Batley & Spen next week.

Miliband, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said on Thursday morning that polls were just "snapshots" and pointed out that he led in the polls in the run-up to losing the 2015 general election to David Cameron's Conservatives. 

"I was ahead in the opinion polls and if the polls had been a prediction I'd have been the Prime Minister. Polls can only tell you so much," Miliband told Sky News.

Milband defended Starmer as the Labour leader continues to trail Boris Johnson in the national opinion polls and faces losing in West Yorkshire next week having already suffered a crushing defeat in Hartelpool earlier this year.

Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, sister of the area's former MP Jo Cox who was murdered by a far-right terrorist, is fighting to stop the Tories win another seat in Labour's heartlands.

The decision of controversial left-winger George Galloway to stand in the seat has created a huge headache for Labour, with his strongly pro-Palestine views expected to appeal to Muslim voters who in previous elections have generally leaned towards Labour.

A Survation poll published last week put Labour six points behind the Tories in Batley & Spen.Miliband told Sky News he was "not anticipating us losing" in Batley & Spen on Thursday, 1 July and described Leadbeater a a "brilliant candidate" who'd make a "great MP".

He insisted Starmer was still the right person to lead Labour into the next general election.

"He's a man of great decency, of great integrity, who has a clear vision for the country. He's a deeply responsible person and he'd make a great Prime Minister," he told Sky News.

"I was leader and you always have ups and downs as the leader of a party," Miliband said.

"Keir Starmer has a clear course for the party.

"He knows what we have really got to do as a party and indeed as a country is rebuild our country so it's much fairer, so people have proper opportunity.

"That's his vision for the country and that's what he's going to carry on pursuing".

Miliband argued the country was still in a phase where being in opposition is harder than normal because "people naturally rally around the government" as it combats the pandemic. 

"Then there's the fight for what kind of future we build for the country," he said.

"I know he's itching to get out there when circumstances allow to put forward his vision of the country. He has a clear vision of the country and that's what he's going to do".

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