Lord Ashcroft Poll of Thanet South, Sheffield Hallam and Swindon South
Lord Ashcroft has released three more constituency polls
. One is the seat of Thanet South where UKIP leader Nigel Farage is standing. Another is the seat of Sheffield Hallam where Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is standing. The last is Swindon South which is a standard Conservative-Labour marginal.
Thanet South is a Conservative held seat. It was a safe Conservative seat during the 1980s until it was won by Labour in the landslide of 1997. The Conservatives won it back in 2010. Thanet South is the most important seat in the country for UKIP as it is being targeted by Nigel Farage. Nigel Farage has said that if he does not win in Thanet South then he will resign as UKIP leader. Locally both Labour and the Conservatives are trying to capitalise on the anti-UKIP vote by persuading voters to vote for candidates from their respective parties in order to keep UKIP out. Lord Ashcroft is showing the Conservatives on 34%, UKIP on 32% and Labour on 26%. One trend has emerged in the Lord Ashcroft polls of Thanet South and that is they have shown the Labour share going down, the Conservative share going up and UKIP remaining relatively stable. It is worth noting that the candidates were not named in the poll which may have disadvantaged UKIP. In terms of the comparison with other pollsters, ComRes showed a similar picture to Lord Ashcroft whereas Survation
are showing a large UKIP lead.
Sheffield Hallam is a Liberal Democrat held seat. At every general election between 1885 and 1992 it returned a Conservative, although it was won by a Liberal who was elected unopposed at a by-election in 1916. Recent polls have shown that the Conservatives have declined further causing the seat to become a Liberal Democrat-Labour marginal. Lord Ashcroft is showing a 1% Labour lead over the Liberal Democrats with Labour on 37%, the Liberal Democrats on 36% and the Conservatives on 15%. Last month Lord Ashcroft showed a 2% Liberal Democrat lead. Taking into account the margin of error in the poll and the likelihood of tactical voting, this seat could go either way.
Swindon South is a Conservative held Labour marginal. Its predecessor seat of Swindon was usually held by Labour, the exceptions being the 1969 by-election, 1983, 1987 and 1992. Labour need 68 additional seats to form a majority, but with the SNP threatening Labour in Scotland, Labour could need around 100 gains in England and Wales to form a majority. Swindon South is Labour target number 56. According to Lord Ashcroft the Conservatives are on 37% and Labour are on 36%. If Labour are really having trouble gaining target seat 56 then it could suggest that a Labour majority is unlikely.