Labour’s troubles have been highlighted once again as a new poll shows that the public are struggling to see any of the party's leadership candidates as a potential future prime minister.
An Ipsos-Mori poll for the Evening Standard showed that although Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham was seen most favourably by the public, only 27% of respondents thought he would make a ‘good prime minister’.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper gained the approval of 22%, with veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn coming in at 17%, and Leicester West MP Liz Kendall at 16%. This news comes after Ms Kendall stated this morning that she would not be dropping out of the leadership contest in a bid to stop Mr Corbyn, despite reported pressure from within her party.
Labour as a party are still trailing the Conservatives by six points and are polling nationally at 31%. This latest poll demonstrates once again the scale of Labour’s challenge.
The fact that Burnham and Cooper are believed by the public to be the most suitable candidates for the post of prime minister but yet are not widely backed could potentially be explained by a growing public perception that they are the ‘continuity Miliband’ candidates.
Neither politician has suggested the radical changes that Ms Kendall or Mr Corbyn propose, yet another last-placed poll finish by the former could be said to reflect an attitude amongst the electorate that her strategy comes across as too aggressive.
Yet, in terms of net negative ratings (the percentage of the public who do not think the candidates would make a good Prime Minister), Ms Kendall does significantly better, coming only three points behind Mr Burnham, who once again has the best rating at 27%. Meanwhile, 34% believe that Ms Cooper does not have what it takes to be a good PM, and 36% have the same view of Mr Corbyn.
In recent days, both Burnham and Cooper have been accused of becoming obsessed with placating Labour members, as opposed to giving them tangible reasons to vote for them. On top of this, Kendall can take heart from the fact that the public are not actively averse to the idea of her as prime minister.
Mr Corbyn, meanwhile, has had a tough 24 hours since his surge to the forefront of the leadership contest. Indeed, half of the MPs who nominated Corbyn have switched allegiance to other candidates, and this latest poll suggests his superiority in first-preference votes may not be as pronounced as Tuesday’s Times/YouGov poll suggested.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “First impressions count, and this poll shows the next few months will be crucial for Labour’s leadership candidates to mould their image in the public’s mind, for better or for worse.
“For now, even though Andy Burnham has the advantage, none are starting from a high base.”