Brown calls off Miliband attack dogs

The polls appear to favour Gordon Brown's leadership
The polls appear to favour Gordon Brown's leadership

Gordon Brown has sent out a message to loyal Labour MPs, telling them to cease and desist on briefing against David Miliband, the foreign secretary whose incendiary article to the Guardian earlier this week triggered fresh leadership speculation.

Yesterday saw Brownites Bob Marshall-Andrews and Geraldine Smith hit out at Mr Miliband for his "contemptible politics" and being a "non-entity", after Downing Street reportedly backed a campaign of negative briefing against the foreign secretary.

Now it appears the attacks have been called off. One theory is that Mr Brown is concerned about the party falling into different warring tribes. Another, that No 10 senses growing support for Mr Miliband among the backbenches, prompting the turnaround.

If so, it backbenchers' opinions are not in tune with those of the electorate, who show every indication of disliking Labour no matter who leads the party.

A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph shows a coup against the prime minister would worsen - no improve - the party's fortunes, with only Tony Blair being cited as a figure who could win the next election for Labour.

All other senior figures within the Labour party would have a negative impact on support - despite only a quarter of the public being likely to vote for Labour with Mr Brown as prime minister.

Under David Miliband, the poll suggests 24 per cent of the public would vote for Labour.

A promotion to No 10 for health secretary Alan Johnson would see Labour's share of the vote slip to just 19 per cent, just two points ahead of the Liberal Democrats, while only former prime minister Mr Blair would see an improvement. Under him Labour would attract 32 per cent, just nine points behind the Tories.

Support for the prime minister among the general public remains very low. Just 15 per cent think he is up to the job.

The YouGov poll says latest voting intentions give the Conservatives a 22-point lead, on 47 per cent. The Lib Dems stand on 14 per cent while other parties would receive a 12 per cent share of the vote.


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