London: The favourite to become the next leader of the Labour party, David Miliband, may be heading for defeat by a narrow margin at the hands of his younger brother, a poll suggested on Sunday.
David and his sibling Ed Miliband are the two frontrunners in the contest to succeed former prime minister, Gordon Brown, a few months after Labour was ousted following 13 years in power.
Former foreign secretary David has been widely tipped to take the helm at the party, which was defeated in May`s general election and replaced by a coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
But a poll for The Sunday Times newspaper of Labour members and trade unionists showed Ed snatching victory by just two points.
"What we`re seeing is people uniting around Ed`s message that Labour must change if it is to restore people`s trust and win the next election," a spokesman for the younger brother said.
Voting in the leadership race began at the start of this month.
Ballot papers were sent to 160,000 Labour party members, who have a third of the votes, Labour lawmakers in the British and European Parliaments, who have another third, and trade unionists, who get the last chunk.
Results of the contest will be announced on September 25, the day before Labour`s annual conference.
David Miliband, 45, was foreign secretary under Brown but is seen as closer to ex-premier, Tony Blair, and strongly associated with the New Labour years under him, when the leftwing party moved further to the centre ground.
Ed Miliband, 40, was Brown`s climate change and energy secretary and previously served him as an advisor.
He wants to reach out to disillusioned Labour voters and has spoken against New Labour`s market-friendly ideas following a steady decline in the party`s popularity in the last decade.
Sunday`s survey, carried out by pollster YouGov, showed the older Miliband enjoying a lead when people`s first choice votes to be leader were counted, with 36 percent ahead of his brother`s 32 percent.
But when lower-ranking candidates are eliminated and their second choices redistributed, David Miliband finishes with 49 percent and Ed edges ahead to win the contest with 51 percent.
The poll shows the three other candidates to become leader lagging far behind the two brothers.
YouGov interviewed 1,011 Labour party members and 718 union members between September 07 and 10.