Tories Lead Farage as Labour Threatens Clegg, Polls Suggest

U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage is struggling to turn his constant campaigning in the district of Thanet South into a solid lead there, a new poll in the constituency suggested.

Despite shaking hands with 15,000 South Thanet residents, as Farage told the Telegraph newspaper this week, support for UKIP in the district has stayed at 32 percent compared with 33 percent in July last year, according to an April 29 poll by former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Michael Ashcroft. Over the same period support for the Tories rose to 34 percent from 29 percent. The poll didn’t name individual candidates.

“I have found the Labour share drifting down as the Tory share edges up, suggesting that Labour supporters may be lending their vote to the Conservatives to stop Nigel Farage,” Ashcroft commented in a blog post. “However, the lead remains well within the margin of error and the seat could still go either way.” Farage says he will resign as UKIP leader if he fails to win the coastal seat.

A separate Ashcroft poll showed an equally tight race in Sheffield Hallam, northern England, where the deputy prime minister, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, is one point behind Labour. Though representing a large drop from the 2010 result, when Clegg’s seat was among the safest Liberal Democrat districts in the country, his support has strengthened by nine points since a local survey in November.

Final Week

With the U.K. election campaign entering its final week, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and Ed Miliband’s Labour party remain tied in national polls, indicating that neither will be able to govern without the support of smaller parties.

UKIP, with its anti-immigration, anti-European Union message, isn’t predicted to be able to turn its support of about 15 percent nationally into more than a handful of parliamentary seats.

The Liberal Democrats, Cameron’s junior coalition partners, are likely to be ousted as Parliament’s third-largest party by the Scottish National Party on May 7. A separate Ipsos Mori poll on Wednesday suggested the SNP, which has vowed not to support a Tory-led government, could win virtually all of Scotland’s 59 seats compared with just six in 2010.

The third marginal seat polled by Ashcroft, the Tory-held district of Swindon South in western England, shows a 1-point Conservative lead. Labour leader Ed Miliband will probably have to win Swindon, which is 56th on the party’s list of most winnable seats, or many districts like it across England if he is to become prime minister next month. The seat is “too close to call,” Ashcroft said.

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