Advantage Miliband, says latest polling in marginals

Ashcroft’s new surveys in Tory-held marginals point to Labour emerging as the largest party - by a whisker

Columnist Don Brind

It’s advantage Miliband after another batch of polling by Lord Ashcroft in ten key Tory-held marginal targeted by Labour.

The pollster peer found that four of the ten seats are likely to be taken by Labour, one is tied and five look like Tory holds. He chose the seats because they were tight races when he visited them last year.

One seat has seen a switch in the lead – Harrow East, where Labour has turned a three-point deficit in December into a four-point lead now. In the other seats, the party in the lead has strengthened its position.

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The likely Tory holds are Blackpool North & Cleveleys, Gloucester, Kingswood, Loughborough and Pendle. The likely Labour gains are in Harrow, East Hove, Morecambe & Lunesdale and Stockton South. The tie – in other words, it’s too close to call now - is in Pudsey.

One of the most significant findings is a move away from Ukip towards the two main parties. The Ukip share of the vote has fallen by up to ten points. That won’t worry Nigel Farage too much because Ukip are not contenders in any of these seats.

A plus for Miliband is that Labour appear to be besting the Tories in the ground war. Around 70 per cent of voters say they’ve heard from Labour, against 60 per cent hearing from the Conservatives.

That could be significant come polling day. It points to Labour having more activists who are now busy leafleting and canvassing. On election day they will switch to “knocking up” – making sure their supporters actually turn out and vote.

The New Statesman website May 2015 says Labour should be buoyed by the Ashcroft findings. They suggest Labour are set to win 35-40 Tory seats, proving that “Labour can still win the most seats” on 7 May.

Only just, though. It could depend on exactly how many of Labour’s 41 Scottish seats are lost to the SNP. Anything more than 30 would wipe out their potential gains in England.

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