17:52 Tuesday 11th November 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
JOZEF HALL: A political poll carried out by a history lecturer at nearby Anglia Ruskin University suggests that Ed Miliband still has strong support as Leader. The survey by Dr Richard Carr was answered by 202 Labour Party councillors in key marginal constituencies. They include councillors from the 106 target seats Labour have in their sights for 2015, as well as the 50 Labour-held seats most vulnerable to a Conservative swing. Richard Carr is on the phone now. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD CARR: Good evening Jozef.
JOZEF HALL: Clearly you haven’t been reading the papers or watching the news.
RICHARD CARR: (LAUGHS) Well the first thing to say is that it’s not me answering the survey of course. It’s Labour Party activists. And I think what it does show, the point of the survey, was to put some facts to a story that has largely been told in rumour and speculation and tittle-tattle. And of the 202 councillors in marginal seats who answered our survey it does appear that Labour Party activists are still standing by Ed Miliband. Three quarters of them don’t believe he should go. Now this survey is not a call for complacency I don’t think. The results do show that a: Labour needs to be about more than just their Leader. They need to start bringing forward the sort of media-savvy more presentationally adept people like Andy Burnham and Stella Creasey. And also that in terms of policy there is some rumblings amongst activists. Some feel it should be more centrist. Some feel Labour should be more left wing. But there is a broad suggestion that maybe Labour policy could do with some tweaking. But I think the broad finding is that Ed Miliband is still backed by his activists, and Labour supporters believe they can still win with Ed Miliband. But there is clearly still work to do.
JOZEF HALL: In a way is it correct to say perhaps that this has been a timely shot across the bows for him, prior to a General Election? He’s almost had to up his game.
RICHARD CARR: Well I think he will certainly have to .. he will have to do more over the next six months. I’m sure he would not have welcomed some of the coverage over the weekend.
JOZEF HALL: What did you refer to it as? Waffle or tittle-tattle?
RICHARD CARR: It has been largely described in terms of people gossiping in tea-rooms, and anonymous back benchers.
JOZEF HALL: And his own former .. well his own Labour colleagues as well.
RICHARD CARR: For most of the time these people seem to go rather unnamed. The point of the survey is, as I say, to get a proper numerical handle on what the Labour base actually thinks. It’s only one survey. It’s a snapshot. But it does at least give an indication that some of the stories we’ve seen are not totally representative of Labour Party feeling across the board.
JOZEF HALL: Surely not. Surely not. What comfort can he take from your findings? Is he aware of them?
RICHARD CARR: I don’t know if he’s aware of them. I think the general message is that he needs to be a bit bolder on the policy side of things. It’s not just about bacon sandwiches. It’s not just about presentation. There are policy gaps that the Labour Party base are pointing to. We don’t ask particular areas here, but things like housing are often brought up, that Labour should be bolder on that, or moving toward the front on the Living Wage. I think what the data shows is that Labour aren’t going to be able to crawl to No.10 via the back door. They can’t wait for media stories like this to happen. They need to get out there and start dictating the agenda.
JOZEF HALL: Richard, great to talk to you. I’m not sure whether I believe in the poll or not. I guess time will tell. Thanks for talking to us.
RICHARD CARR: Thank you Jozef.
JOZEF HALL: Dr. Richard Carr there from Anglia Ruskin University.