A poll of swing seats put Ed Miliband’s opposition Labour Party on course to win an outright majority in the 2015 election, thanks to the increased strength of the anti-European Union U.K. Independence Party.
The survey of 12,809 voters in the 40 Conservative-held seats with the smallest majorities gave Labour a 14 percentage-point lead in seats where the party was in second place in the 2010 election. That’s wider than the 5-point lead Labour had across the country in a nationwide comparison poll. Such a swing would give Labour 355 seats in the House of Commons and a majority of 66 over other parties.
The UKIP vote share in these seats has risen from 3 percent in 2010 to 11 percent, according to the poll commissioned by Michael Ashcroft, a Conservative upper-house lawmaker. The party’s success has forced Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to adopt a more EU-skeptic tone, pledging a referendum on staying in the bloc or leaving it by the end of 2017.
“Despite their narrow national poll lead, Labour are further ahead in the marginals where it matters,” Ashcroft said in an e-mailed statement. “Labour have made no progress in the last two years, but if UKIP do as well at the general election as this poll suggests, Ed Miliband could become prime minister with a comfortable majority.”
The poll offered some hope for the Conservatives, giving Cameron a 10 percentage-point lead in the seats on the question of who would make the best prime minister. His party was also seen as most clear about what it stood for, most able to take difficult decisions and most competent.
Ashcroft, who regularly commissions opinion polls on specific issues, carried out his survey between Aug. 1 and Sept. 5.
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