UPDATE: A recent correction from Lord Ashcroft showed Labour’s share of the vote in Doncaster North was actually 54%.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how best the Conservatives could tackle the Labour threat in the north of England. Quite simply, they should stand aside.
The latest round of constituency polling from Lord Ashcroft today rather eloquently proved my point, that very method could hit Labour where its hurts most – in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat.
The Labour leader has failed to connect with many typically Labour voters and nowhere is that more apparent than in his own constituency. Today’s polling revealed whilst Miliband is leading on 40%, the UK Independence Party and the Tories are not without range, reaching 28% and 23% respectively.
Let us hypothesise. Imagine the Tories decided not to field a candidate and urged all of their voters to back a UKIP candidate. The combined figure between the two parties today tallied at 51%, which would be more than enough to unseat Miliband.
Conservative voters in the North must surely realise that whilst their own party has become something of a toxic brand and is of little threat to the Labour-dominated heartlands, the purple and yellow brigade is. The Heywood and Middleton by-election in October saw UKIP get to within 600 votes of snatching the seat.
If the Conservatives are realistic and make the bold decision to lose a battle to win the war, they may just be able to wreck Labour and Miliband’s aim of reaching Number 10.
Miliband’s failure to connect with his own voters could have devastating consequences.
FARAGE STRUGGLING IN THANET SOUTH
It wasn’t all good news for UKIP today though with an Ashcroft poll in Thanet South revealing party leader Nigel Farage is lagging five points behind the Conservative candidate.
Polling after the European Elections had Farage holding a narrow lead, but a lack of appearances in the constituency over recent months could be swaying voters away from the charismatic leader.
In Farage’s defence, he is the leader of a party which in the past three months has seen two Conservative MPs defect, force by-elections and duly reclaim their seats in the House of Commons. It has been a busy period.
Statistics also noted that 49% of Farage’s support in the Kent seat comes from previously non-voters, who are notoriously harder to get to the ballot box on election day.
It’s still far from a lost cause though with the margin very narrow. The Conservatives lead on 34%, UKIP are second with 29%, whilst Labour are trailing in third on 26%. UKIP will of course be plowing copious resources into Thanet South in the run up to next May, with the seat being a must-win for the party. It will be one worth keeping a very close eye on over the next few months.
CLEGG ALSO IN TROUBLE
Not much is going right for Nick Clegg these days and the Liberal Democrat leader has found his lead slashed to a mere three points in Ashcroft’sSheffield Hallam poll.
Clegg is narrowly ahead on 31% with Labour second on 28%. The Tories come next gathering 19% while UKIP and the Greens picked up 11% and 10% respectively.
If the Lib Dems are to bow out next May, their leader could well be going with them.