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Kellner says an overall LAB majority looks less likely after YouGov reports its lowest lead of the year

June 30th, 2013

Why a 5% LAB lead might not be enough

Today’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has the LAB lead down to just 5% it’s lowest point since November 2012.

This has set off the talk once again that an overall majority for Ed Miliband in 2015 might be not as much in the bag as it appeared. For all though the shares in the poll should, according to the seat calculators, produce a comfortable majority there are reasons which it might be tighter.

YouGov’s Peter Kellner writes in the Sunday Times:-

“.. If we apply the vote shifts since 2010 to every constituency — Labour up eight points, the Tories down four and the Liberal Democrats down 13 — then Labour triumphs with 354 seats and a majority of 58.

That is misleading, however. This calculation projects the Lib Dems losing 34 seats, 18 of them to Labour. That is improbable. Lib Dem MPs tend to have personal support that transcends party labels; this will not save those with tiny majorities but it will limit the party’s losses.

Recent elections suggest new MPs tend to do better than the national average when they first seek re-election. This applies to almost all the Tory MPs Labour is seeking to depose in 2015. I would expect Labour to win fewer Conservative-Labour marginals than one might assume from the national swing.

There’s another factor here which Kellner doesn’t mention – Scotland.

At GE2010 Labour was losing vote share and seats all over apart from north of the border where its vote increased by 2.5%. The party came away with 41 of Scotland’s 59 seats and part of the reason, it was argued, was that the then leader, Gordon Brown, was Scottish.

The Lib Dems, who had moved from a Scottish leader, Charles Kennedy, to an English one, Nick Clegg, saw a fall in its Scottish vote share against the overall national trend.

It is hard to see how Labour, even with the progress made since 2010 nationally, can hold on to 70% of the Scottish seats.

Apart from YouGov there was the ICM Wisdom Index for the S Telegraph – a poll in which those sampled are asked to predict the vote shares for the main parties.

There’s also an Opinium poll about for the Observer for which we don’t have the details yet. One finding that has been revealed is that 46% said that they blame LAB for Britain’s economic situation while just 29% blamed the coalition.

Mike Smithson

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