The contest for the next leader of the Labour Party is heating up in line with the field being narrowed down, with just four candidates left in play. All will confess to much work needing to be done, not just in terms of developing a support (or indeed policy) base, but well, in simply communicating to the electorate who they are, never mind what they stand for.
They might even argue that right now, it doesn’t matter if potential leaders’ public recognition is low, which it is. The public, of course, do not vote in Labour’s leadership contest: only MPs, party members, and unions are eligible for that.
But let’s not kid ourselves, just like that walk-in moment for newly-weds as they view their future home for the first time, or indeed that critical first 15-seconds interviewees have to create that “we have to have you here” impression on their job inquisitor, the time is now for party leaders to positively imprint themselves on the people they will depend on to propel them toward destination Number 10.
Just ask Ed Miliband, or Iain Duncan Smith for that matter. They never overcame the image issues that held them back right from the beginning. Indeed, in the public’s mind, there’s no coming back for leaders who aren’t perceived to have ‘it’. So better make sure you do, starting now…..
Indeed now is the chance to shine for the likes of Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and even Yvette Cooper, whose highest prize to date was the Department of Work & Pensions brief – and who is also seemingly known as Ed Balls other half (indeed, she was named as ‘Yvette Balls’ by a small chunk of the poll sample).
On the plus side, politicians who have never particularly basked in public recognition have a clean slate. It is, perhaps, a little more comfortable a journey for Andy Burnham, whose recognition of 23% was easily higher than the rest of the pack. Yvette Cooper followed 6-points behind (17%), with Liz Kendall (10%) and Jeremy Corbyn (9%) a further step behind the pace. For the latter two, low figures are probably to be expected, not previously being high profile figures and/or late entrant to the hustings. They will hope that their recognition in the Labour Beauty Parade – and perceived wider popular appeal to boot – now surge upwards.
Every respondent was shown a picture of each potential leader, and asked to name them in a free text box. All verbatim contributions were individually assessed, and only marked correct if the surname was correct or spelt only slightly incorrectly such that it was clear that the surname were known. The results are as follows:
ANDY BURNHAM | CORRECT 23% | INCORRECT: 10% | DON’T KNOW: 66%
YVETTE COOPER | CORRECT: 17% | INCORRECT: 10% | DON’T KNOW: 74%
LIZ KENDALL | CORRECT 10% | INCORRECT: 9% | DON’T KNOW: 81%
JEREMY CORBYN | CORRECT: 9% | INCORRECT: 9% | DON’T KNOW: 82%
ICM Unlimited interviewed an online sample of 2,006 adults aged 18+ on 19-21st June 2015. Interviews were conducted across Britain and the results have been weighted to the profile of all British adults.