A Tory peer has delivered bad news for prime minister David Cameron and Chester’s sitting Conservative MP Stephen Mosley.
According to the poll, voting intentions in Chester show Labour on 45% compared to the Conservatives 34%, with UKIP on 10% and the Lib Dems trailing with 7% – although the election on May 7 is still more than seven weeks away.
It shows Labour appearing to be pulling away compared to their 1% lead when Lord Ashcroft last carried out an opinion poll in the seat in October 2014. At that point Labour was on 37% compared to the Tories’ 36%; UKIP was on 15% and the Lib Dems were unchanged on 7%.
Lord Ashcroft polled constituencies where his previous data suggested close races. It appears Conservative advances on the national stage are not being reflected in many of the key battleground seats.
Only one of the eight seats surveyed, Worcester, showed a Labour lead reversing to a Tory one. In Croydon Central Labour’s lead has dropped from six points to four. Southhampton has swung from a tie to an eight-point Labour lead. In all the other seats, Labour has increased its poll lead.
The Tory peer explained his choice of seats: “The seats in question are Southampton Itchen, the closest of the Labour-held seats I have polled; Croydon Central, where I found the smallest Labour lead of any London Tory seat; South Swindon, which was tied in December; and City of Chester, Halesowen & Rowley Regis, Nuneaton, Wirral West and Worcester, where I found Labour leads of between one and three points last October.”
Lord Ashcroft’s poll also shows Conservative employment minister and former TV presenter Esther McVey would also lose her seat to Labour in the marginal Wirral West seat.
National polls currently put the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck in the polls.
Lord Ashcroft is a wealthy businessman and describes himself as a ‘lifelong supporter’ of the Conservatives. He was deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, with special responsibility for the target seats campaign and opinion research from 2005 to 2010.