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Labour leadership race wide open as poll puts Rebecca Long-Bailey ahead of Sir Keir Starmer

3 min read

Rebecca Long-Bailey is ahead of Sir Keir Starmer in the race to become the next Labour leader, a new poll has shown.

The study of party members for LabourList/Survation shows the Shadow Business Secretary inching ahead of her main rival.

The poll finds that 42% of Labour members would give Ms Long-Bailey their first preference vote under the system used in the party's leadership elections.

Sir Keir, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, is five points behind on 37%.

Although Sir Keir scoops up the majority of second preference votes from all candidates in the race, they are not enough to wipe out Ms Long-Bailey's lead from the first round - with the knife-edge final run-off putting her on 51%, ahead of 49% for Sir Keir.

The poll is a major boost for Ms Long-Bailey and a major turnaround from a YouGov poll earlier this month, which showed Sir Keir beating his main rival by 61% to 39% in a final run-off.

The Survation study came as Sir Keir made a fresh bid to win over the support of Labour members, with a piece for The Guardian urging the party to "make the moral case for socialism" and focus on "economic justice, social justice and climate justice".

The Holborn and St Pancras MP said: "There are two parts to being Labour. First, enabling everyone to get a decent education, the best job they can, better standards of living and a fulfilling life. The free market has failed in this endeavour. We have to fight to put wealth, power and opportunity in the hands of all.

"The second part is just as important. People’s lives don’t always work out the way they want. I have seen this at first hand in all the work I have ever done. Labour should always stand by people. The social security system should be decent, strong and unbreakable, with dignity at its heart. That’s what being Labour means."

The poll meanwhile suggests that undecided members will play a crucial role in the contest, with 34% of those polled saying they had yet to choose a candidate. 

Just 22% of those who ranked candidate told the pollsters they were certain that they would not change their preferences.

Of the other contenders in the race, Jess Phillips leads the pack with 9% of first preferences, while Lisa Nandy scoops up 7% of the vote and Emily Thornberry is the first-choice pick of just 1%.

In a further blow for Ms Thornberry, just 37% said they were familiar with her and her policy platform, the lowest of all the candidates and a far cry from 77% for Sir Keir and 73% for Ms Long-Bailey.

The study also shows Angela Rayner storming ahead of her opponents in the race to become Labour's deputy leader.

It suggests she will win the contest on the basis of first preferences alone, with 60% of members making her their first choice, ahead of  Richard Burgon on 19%.

Meanwhile, Ms Rayner has received a further boost after winning the support of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Survation spoke to 3,835 Labour members between 8-13 January, with the data weighted to reflect the profile of party members by age, sex and UK region.

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