Labour slashes Tory lead to 6 points

Lowest Tory poll lead since 2008 revives prospect of a hung parliament

There's a remarkable poll in tomorrow's Observer showing that Labour has cut the Conservatives' lead to just 6 points. This is the Tories' lowest poll lead for almost a year and puts us back in hung parliament territory.

The Ipsos-MORI poll shows the Conservatives' support falling from 43 per cent last month to 37 per cent, with backing for Labour increasing by 5 points to 31 per cent.

According to UK Polling Report's swing calculator, these figures would leave the Tories 38 seats short of an overall Commons majority and just two seats ahead of Labour:

Conservatives: 288 seats (+90)

Labour: 286 seats (-70)

Liberal Democrats: 45 seats (-17)

The fieldwork for the poll was done last weekend, shortly after Labour's convincing victory in the Glasgow North-East by-election, which is likely to have boosted the party.

It's dangerous to read too much into one poll, but these are clearly fantastic figures for Labour six months ahead of a general election.

It was remarkably naive and premature of the Guardian to suggest on Tuesday that Cameron was "closing the deal" with the electorate.

Labour will be justly cheered by this result and the Tories will be more than a little rattled. For the first time in months, the political momentum is with Gordon Brown. The next week should be interesting.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Fight: Arron Banks versus Mary Beard on the fall of Rome

On the one hand: one of Britain's most respected classicists. On the other: Nigel Farage's sugar daddy. 

Tom Lehrer once said that he would quit satire after Henry Kissinger – him of napalm strikes and the Nixon administration – received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Your mole is likewise minded to hand in hat, glasses and pen after the latest clash of the titans.

In the blue corner: Arron Banks, insurance millionaire and Nigel Farage’s sugar daddy.

In the red corner: Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, documentarian, author, historian of the ancient world.

It all started when Banks suggested that the fall of the Roman Empire was down to…you guessed it, immigration:

To which Beard responded:

Now, some might back down at this point. But not Banks, the only bank that never suffers from a loss of confidence.

Did Banks have another life as a classical scholar, perhaps? Twitter users were intrigued as to where he learnt so much about the ancient world. To which Banks revealed all:

I, Claudius is a novel. It was written in 1934, and concerns events approximately three centuries from the fall of Rome. But that wasn't the end of Banks' expertise:

Gladiator is a 2000 film. It is set 200 years before the fall of Rome.

Your mole rests. 

I'm a mole, innit.