A new opinion poll carried out in marginal constituencies suggests the Liberal Democrats are doing well at Labour’s expense, and could gain the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat. The ICM survey in the Guardian even raises the prospect of the Lib Dems taking Colne Valley, despite finishing third there at the last general election.
The poll was carried out in constituencies where the Lib Dems are challenging to win. The results hint that Lib Dem support is growing more strongly in Labour-held seats such as Oldham East and Saddleworth and Colne Valley, than in areas held by the Conservatives.
According to the Guardian’s analysis of the poll results, the swing from Labour to the Lib Dems in Labour-held marginal seats could be as high as 8%. That would be enough to see Lib Dem Elwyn Watkins to victory over Labour’s Phil Woolas in Oldham East and Saddleworth. However, the poll doesn’t take account of local factors, and a strong personal vote for Mr Woolas could help him hold on despite trends elsewhere. Another unknown is how well the Conservative candidate Kashif Ali will do, but he has high hopes of winning votes from both his main rivals following an energetic campaign.
In theory, a swing of up to 8% from Labour to the Lib Dems in Colne Valley would help Nick Clegg’s party to a win there too. But although the Guardian article mentions that possibility, the Lib Dems would have to overtake not only Labour but also the Conservatives. Although it’s not unheard of for parties to win from third place, it’s very rare. And given the huge effort made by the Tories to try to win Colne Valley, which is their top target for all of West Yorkshire, it would be a major surprise if their vote share fell.
You can view the Guardian’s report on the poll here.