LABOUR AND TORIES NECK AND NECK

The picture shows Victor Agarwal, Labour PPC for the marginal seat of North Swindon addressing a meeting organised for local GMB members and their families

From Labour List: Tories and Labour level in key marginals:

By Alex Smith / @alexsmith1982

Labour and the Tories are “neck and neck” the the key marginal seats, according to a new Populus poll in tomorrow’s Times.

The paper says:

“The poll targeted 100 Labour-held seats where the Tories came second at the last general election and which are 50 to 149 in their list of targets. The poll excluded the 50 easiest seats for the Tories but included those the party needs to win for an overall majority.

In the key seats, Labour is still just ahead, on 38.2%, down from 45.3% in the 2005 election. The Tories are on 37.6%, up from 31.4%. This means that they should gain 97 Labour-held seats. Taking account of boundary changes, it is likely that the Conservatives would need up to 20 further seats from the Liberal Democrats and others for an overall majority.”

That amounts to a swing of about 6.7% to the Tories from Labour since 2005 in those seats. But the Times also says:

“That might be worth an extra 20 MPs to the Conservatives, smaller than many in the party would hope after the big spending on these targets. It might be enough only to take the Tories to the threshold of the 326 seats they need for a bare overall majority in the Commons.”

The poll also finds that the row over the tax status of Lord Ashcroft is damaging the Tory Party. Of the 68% who said that they had followed the story, 28% said that it had made their overall view of the party less favourable.

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