Seven in 10 Labor members believe Andy Burnham would make a better Labor leader than Sir Keir Starmer, according to an exclusive poll for Sky News.
The YouGov poll found 69% of Labor MPs would prefer the mayor of the Manchester underground to the current incumbent, even if he is not a Member of Parliament and therefore could not enter an immediate competition.
Grim conclusions for Mr. Keir include 4 in 10 Labor members who want him to step down if he loses tomorrow’s by-election in West Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of Labor members, 65%, believe Labor is now on the verge of losing the next general election with just 21% believing Labor is likely to win.
There are also signs that Labor members in northern England trust Sir Keir less than in other parts of the country.
YouGov’s poll of 871 Labor members last week suggests the party should brace for internal unrest if it loses to Batley and Spen tomorrow.
Labor holds the seat by the relatively slim margin of 3,525 votes and faces a challenge from former Labor MP George Galloway who drains the votes of Britain’s large Asian population into the seat.
The vacancy was triggered after Labor chose existing Batley and Spen MP Tracey Brabin to run for mayor in West Yorkshire, a post she won last month. The fact that Labor chose to hold this by election, which is now at stake, will raise questions about Sir Keir’s grip on his operation.
Last month Labor lost the Labor seat in Hartlepool in a by-election, the first time that seat fell into the hands of the Tories.
The grim backdrop of the by-election is likely to raise questions about whether Mr Starmer should remain in office, a question already asked by some on the left.
The poll sought the opinions of Labor members, people who pay up to £ 50 a year to be members and vote in leadership contests, so in theory they should be the biggest cheerleaders in the party.
The results revealed that 34% of Labor members believe Mr Starmer should step down compared to 54% who want him to stay. That gap narrows to 41% wanting him to retire in the event of a loss to Batley and Spen versus 48% who want him to stay.
Trade unionists in the north of England take an even more critical point of view. If he loses to Batley and Spen, then 50% of Labor members in the north want him to resign compared to 42% who want him to stay. It’s a warning signal that Sir Keir may find it difficult to reclaim areas of the Red Wall lost in the last election if he doesn’t even get Labor activists excited.
In the event of a sudden leadership race among existing MPs, Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper would get the highest level of membership support, with 35% of Labor members saying she would get their first preference.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is second with 13%, Deputy Chief Angela Rayner with 12%, former leadership contestant Rebecca Long Bailey with 11% and left pillar Richard Burgon with 6%.
However, there is a clear preference for Mr Burnham – who was unable to run immediately as he is not an MP – over Sir Keir. The 69% of Labor members who say the Manchester Underground mayor would be a better leader than the incumbent is a much higher number than the 38% who say Ms Cooper would be a better leader than Sir Keir.
When asked how they thought Sir Keir was doing, 55% of Labor members answered ‘good’. This is less than 94% who said that Mr Burnham was doing “well”, 87% who said that of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, 68% who said that of Mrs Nandy and 67% who said that of Ms. Rayner.
The Labor leader outclassed his fictional new chancellor Rachel Reeves, who saw 53% say she was fine. Less than half of Labor members in northern England, 47%, say Sir Keir is doing well.
There is little confidence in the current leadership of Labor among the youngest cohort of Labor members, those aged 18-24. Some 90% believe Labor is unlikely to win the next election, while 63% believe Sir Keir is unlikely to make it to the next election as leader.
Sir Keir is under pressure to readmit his predecessor to the Parliamentary Labor Party, with 60% wanting Jeremy Corbyn back.
Almost two-thirds of Labor members believe the leadership should announce more detailed policies while 51% want the party to retain most of Mr Corbyn’s political platform since the last election.
YouGov interviewed 871 Labor members online from June 22-29.