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Polls Put Labour In By-Election Lead

Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams is the front-runner to be our next MP, according to opinion polls.

Opinion polls released tonight give Labour the advantage in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. Two surveys show the Liberal Democrats well back in second with the Conservatives a distant third, although another poll has the Lib Dems only narrowly behind.

A Populus survey of more than 1,500 people commissioned by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft and published in the Sunday Telegraph puts Labour on 46%, the Lib Dems on 29% with the Conservatives on 15%.

Meanwhile, a much smaller ICM poll in the Mail on Sunday gives a similar picture, with Labour on 44%, the Lib Dems on 27% and the Tories on 18%.

A third small survey, carried out by polling newcomer Survation also for the Mail on Sunday, has the race much closer. It puts Labour on 31%, the Lib Dems on 30% and the Conservatives on just 6%, along with 25% undecided and 8% backing other parties.

Those ratings compare with the result from the general election here in Oldham East and Saddleworth. Then, Labour won 31.9% of the vote, ahead of 31.6% for the Lib Dems and 26.4% for the Conservatives.

The polls were released at the end of the busiest day of campaigning so far ahead of Thursday’s vote. Hundreds of activists from the different parties came from around the country to help their candidates. Also on the campaign trail were Labour leader Ed Miliband, Conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Lib Dem Cabinet ministers Chris Huhne and Michael Moore.

Mr Miliband hinted in an interview with Saddleworth News that Labour is concerned complacency among some of its own supporters could now be the biggest threat to its candidate Debbie Abrahams. He said: “The stakes are too high in this by-election to stay at home.”

The surveys aren’t all bad news for Elwyn Watkins and the Lib Dems. They suggest the party’s share of the vote is holding up in our area, despite national opinion polls which have shown a significant drop in support for them in recent months. They’ll be hoping a good turnout in strong Lib Dem areas such as Saddleworth, and Tories voting tactically to stop Labour, could yet swing the contest their way.

Even though Conservative Kashif Ali appears to be in third place, Mr Hague was today quick to again rubbish claims the Tories haven’t put their all into this contest. Speaking in Uppermill, he said: “We’ve had 50 MPs up here, the Prime Minister was here on Thursday, I’m here today, many of my colleagues will be here, so we’re not giving anybody an easy ride.”

More details of the Populus/Sunday Telegraph poll are available here, with an article about it by Lord Ashcroft himself here. The Mail on Sunday piece about its two polls is here. There’s further analysis at Political Betting here, and from UK Polling Report here.

Full coverage of the by-election so far, including interviews with the candidates, is available from Saddleworth News here.

(Editor’s note: This story was updated a few hours after publication to include the details of the Survation poll)


  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Blow – it looks like my bet that Kashif would come second is lost.

    Surprised Lib Dems doing that well but never in race.

  • David says:

    I would like to know what the percentage is for the BNP.

  • Michael Wood says:

    Mr Hulme I can,t think that is right, I think the liberals will come third well beaten. The Liberal deputy leader was telling people not to vote Conservative but to vote for is party. You no Saddleworth people they will only vote the way they think

  • […] the article here: Polls Put Labour In By-Election Lead «Saddleworth News Share and […]

  • Andrew (Uppermill resident) says:

    Its really essential that we get a Tory or a Lib Dem MP

    If we do i reckon the MP will then have the clout to force through big issues – NEW Saddleworth school etc.

    If we get a Labour MP – the area could well be ignored or even punished by govt!

    With this logic i once considered voting for Phil Woolas when Labour was in power – decided not to be stupid in the end though…

  • Andy, Uppermill says:

    ‘With this logic i once considered voting for Phil Woolas when Labour was in power – decided not to be stupid in the end though…’

    Wish there were more like you..! How on earth can anyone vote Labour after the mess they’ve made of the country?!

  • Andrea Gill says:

    Debbie Abrahams has made me realise how it is possible for people to feel “betrayed” by Lib Dems when they never voted for us to start with.

    I now feel “betrayed” by Debbie Abrahams for misleading us in Colne Valley about her dedication to the area and about how she now lives in our constituency. Standing for local elections in our area this May seemed to underline this.

    Now there is a by-election in another constituency, and all the stuff she claimed to us last year has been brushed under the carpet – make no mistake, she will ditch your constituency just as fast when a better opportunity arises elsewhere!

  • Kevin Peters says:

    My guess is, and it is purely an educated one, is that Labour will poll somewhat less than this 44% seen in these polls. Labour voters are notorious for not coming out to vote. Harold Wilson even blamed the showing of ‘Steptoe and Son’ on polling night for his losing the 1970 General Election. The trouble for Labour is that the scale of this lead also encourages compliancy again amongst their voters.

    As for the Liberal Democrat vote they still appear to be in a clear second place and can put the bite on the Conservative waivers. The Tory vote could shrink further still with the pressure on these voters faced with the stark choice of either a Lib Dem or Labour MP. The diehards will not be moved but that said will enough Tories come over in the last remaining days of the campaign to make a difference to Elwyn Watkins’ campaign?

  • John Brooks says:

    How does Mr Watkins square these polls with his claims in recent leaflets that he is in the lead and that most conservatives are backing him.

    Take this in conjunction with his ‘Labour’s unknown candidate’ line and his keenness to claim improvements in Pension provision actually enabled by Labour legislation and in ignorance of Lim Dem minister Steve Webb’s published plans to accelerate the increase in retirement pension age, one is left to wonder where this honorable campaign he promised has gone.

    We were canvassed by the Greens at the weekend. The canvasser is a former Lib Dem voter!!

    As for living in Delph! Everyone knows he will be gone when he loses. He says he is local. I have lived in Delph for nearly 14 years – I am still a comerer inner. Elwyn you are not and can never be local!

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