LONDON: Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London is the Labour politician most likely to be popular as a party leader, a YouGov survey has suggested. The pollsters looked at prominent Labour politicians and asked the public about two factors – their awareness of the individual, and how much they liked them. For most Labour politicians, being well-known also correlated with being disliked. A full 94 per cent of respondents had heard of Jeremy Corbyn, the current Labour leader. But when those who liked him were balanced out against those who did, his net likeability rating was -40, the lowest of any of the Labour cohort. By contast, the Labour backbencher and former army man Dan Jarvis was the most popular, with a net likeability rating of -1. But he also was one of the least well-known. Just four politicians managed to straddle the sweet spot of being less disliked and more well-known. These included former Labour leadership contestants Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Hilary Benn. But the man who beat them all was Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. YouGov’s Chris Curtis said that in terms of likeability Khan “outstrips almost everyone else”. But since Khan only took up his post last year, he is unlikely to be able to run in an imminent Labour contest.
For this reason, Curtis suggested that party members unhappy with the status quo would be better rallying around one of the lesser known MPs, such as Lisa Nandy, Jarvis or the shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer. He said: “Being largely unknown may also give them the opportunity to shape their own image and give them more space to rejuvenate the Labour brand.” Another lesser-known MP hovering just behind this cohort in the likeability scores is Clive Lewis, a former journalist and army reservist, who served in Afghanistan. Lewis, along with Nandy, has supported the idea of a progressive alliance between Labour and other opposition parties, but alienated Labour’s more Eurosceptic wing when he quit the frontbench over the Article 50 vote. There is nevertheless space for a wildcard. The YouGov rating system rewards those who manage to achieve the greatest support and least antagonism, rather than divisive politicians who might nevertheless command deep support. Chuku Umunna, for example, is liked by a larger share of respondents than Jarvis, but is also disliked by a significant group of respondents. However, any aspiring Labour leader should heed this warning – after Corbyn, the most unpopular Labour politician was the former leader, Ed Miliband.