Respected pollster says Labour are the ones to watch

Look at the averages anew, and it’s Labour who have the advantage while Tories ‘are far from victory’

Columnist Don Brind

Ed Miliband – not David Cameron - is on course to head the biggest party following the general election, according to Martin Baxter in his latest prediction for the Electoral Calculus website. He says that David Cameron is “far from victory”.

Baxter, the doyen of election analysts, predicts that there will be 298 Labour MPs and 267 Tories. He puts the Lib Dems’ likely tally at 16 and Ukip and the Greens on one apiece.

Yesterday, I reported how both the New Statesman and UK General Election were giving the Tories a slight lead, based on polling averages taken over five or seven days.

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Now Baxter has come up with a prediction based on polling averages spread over a full month (and a mega-sample of nearly 11,000 people): these show Labour ahead of the Tories by 33.3 to 32.7 per cent.

That margin would be enough to allow Labour to take 40 Tory seats - but would still leave Miliband short of an overall majority because of the huge haul of seats the SNP are predicted to take off Labour in Scotland.

Interestingly, today’s YouGov poll is more in line with Baxter’s thinking. It shows Labour back in the lead after two days of the Tories being ahead: Con 34, Lab 35, Lib Dems 7, Ukip 14, Greens 5.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Baxter discusses a number of combinations that might produce a Commons majority. He reckons that if Labour can increase their lead by another 1.5 per cent, then they can have a simple Lab/Lib coalition. A 2.5 per cent average lead would give them an outright majority.

By contrast, he says, the Conservatives “are still far from victory”. They need a lead over Labour of seven percentage points to have a majority - and they have only eight weeks left to achieve it.

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is a former BBC lobby correspondent and Labour press officer who is watching the polls for The Week in the run-up to the 2015 election.