Current Affairs

Analysis: Miliband’s appeal shows he should have run

Tony Grew May 8, 2007
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It could go down in history as one of the worst political decisions ever made – if gay votes are anything to go by.

A poll of readers shows that if David Miliband had got up the courage to tackle Gordon Brown for the leadership, Labour might have had a stronger chance of winning an historic fourth term in office.

27% wanted Mr Miliband as next Prime Minister – only 13% wanted Gordon Brown.

Given that between 6% and 10% of the population are LGBT, depending on whom you believe, that is a lot of votes in every constituency in the country.

Alan Johnson’s profile gets a boost – the education secretary came second among LGBT voters with 21% picking him to become next Prime Minister.

The smart talk is that Miliband knows Labour will lose the next election, and he is biding his time to lead the party in a (hopefully) short period of opposition against David Cameron.

And what of the Leader of the Opposition?

Well we asked our panel – if Tony Blair, in a final act of spite, called a general election today, would the Queen be legally able to dissolve Parliament from America?

And, if she was, how they would vote if a general election were called?

It seems with gay voters, Mr Cameron has a way to go.

It should come as no surprise that the two parties most associated with gay rights come out on top – 35% would vote Labour, 27% Liberal Democrats and 26% would vote Conservative.

10% said they would vote Green and 2% for the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties.

In the local elections last week, 40% of the general populace voted Tory, 26% for Labour, Lib Dem 26% and others 7%.

A reluctance to vote Tory is more marked in older readers.

The legacy of Section 28 and the Thatcher-years intolerance of gay people is not a factor for those too young to vote at the last election.

51% of them chose David Cameron, 32% Gordon Brown and 17% Sir Ming Campbell.

Overall 40% of the community selected Sir Menzies Campbell, 33% David Cameron just 27% Gordon Brown.

We didn’t ask how many would vote for Tony Blair again, but his legacy is certainly assured among gay people.

73% of LGBT voters consider that Britain’s attitude to gay rights has changed for the better thanks to Tony Blair and his policies.

More than half (51%) considered the introduction of Civil Partnerships as the Prime Minister’s strongest legacy.

This was followed by the Equality Act (15 %), scrapping Section 28 (13%) and equalising the age of consent (13%)

Tony Blair is rightly praised for his record on gay rights, but it was not all good news.

48% of the gay community felt that the appointment of Ruth Kelly as minster for equality was the biggest LGBT-related mistake made by Blair since 1997.

22% criticised the Prime Minister for dithering over religious exemptions of the Equality Act, an equal number highlighted the decision not to introduce full marriage.

It seems that Ruth Kelly continues to be the main point of contention when it comes to recent Labour relations with gays.

Not surprisingly, 89% of LGBT voters thought she would be the worst possible successor to Blair.

Labour’s outstanding record on gay rights does not seem safe in the hands of Gordon Brown seems to be the resounding message of our poll.

Gay voters see Alan Johnson, or even better David Miliband, as the sort of people who can keep that agenda moving forward.

They would trust the other David, Cameron, with their votes more than they would Gordon Brown.

Whether this means that Labour are in danger of losing a core vote of gay people is unclear.

Surveys are very different from general elections. Gay people, like everyone else, vote on a range of issues and none. readers are likely to be more politically engaged than the general gay populace, so we should be wary of appearing to speak for the 3.5 million LGBT people in the UK.

But the message seems clear. No breakthrough yet for the Tories, especially among older gay voters. But Gordon Brown is failing to set pulses racing, and there seems as much suspicion about him as there is for the Conservatives.

The poll was open over Saturday and Sunday morning on the website. 534 geographically representative members of the LGBT community took part in the poll.

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