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Labour retains stubborn lead in European elections

But Ukip is betting on a late surge.

But Ukip is betting on a late surge.
Ed Miliband addresses delegates at the CBI conference in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

Nigel Farage has been long predicted that Ukip will win this May's European elections, but the latest poll, in common with all other recent surveys, shows Labour remain ahead. With a month to go, Miliband's party is unchanged on 30 per cent, with Farage's on 27 per cent (-1), the Tories on 22 per cent (-1), the Lib Dems on 10 per cent (+1) and the Greens on 6 per cent (+1). 

Despite this, Ukip remains confident that it will triumph on 22 May. Party figures point out that they only moved into second place in the final weeks of the 2009 campaign after a late surge (aided in part by the expenses scandal). On 8 May 2009, a YouGov poll put them on just 7%, 15 points behind Labour and 12 points behind the Lib Dems. But by 3 June 2009, the day before the election, they were on 18 per cent, two points ahead of Labour and three points ahead of the Lib Dems. They eventually polled 16.5 per cent, finishing in second place, 0.8 per cent ahead of Labour. While recognising that the race will be tight, party strategists are hoping to pull off a narrow victory this time round

The other point in Ukip's favour is that its supporters are more likely to turn out. At present, 48 per cent tell YouGov that they are certain to vote but in 2009, just 35 per cent did. Barring an unexpected surge of interest in the EU, Ukip is likely to benefit from another derisory turnout. 

The party's just-launched £1.5m poster campaign will help to raise its profile and key donor Paul Sykes told the FT yesterday: "We haven’t stopped spending yet. I’ll spend whatever it takes for the British people to make them aware that power has been transferred from Britain without permission." But if the polls do not move in Ukip's favour soon, some will start to ask whether the party's vote has hit a ceiling.