David Cameron and Ed Miliband look on during the service to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on June 4, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Labour two points behind in Tory-held marginals

A new poll shows the party trails in 25 must-win Conservative seats. 

Westminster may obsess over national polls, but they are an indequate guide to the outcome of the next election. To know where the parties really stand, we need numbers from the marginals - the seats which decide who enters Downing Street. 

Lord Ashcroft will helpfully be publishing another of his super-polls at this Saturday's ConservativeHome conference but in advance of that, ComRes has carried out a new survey for the Independent of the 40 most marginal Conservative-Labour battlegrounds. The bad news for Ed Miliband is that his party is two points behind (35-33) in the 25 where the Tories are incumbent, suggesting that it is performing worse in these constituencies than nationally (a reversal of previous findings). If Labour is to become the largest single party, let alone achieve a majority, these are must-win seats. In the 15 where Labour is incumbent, the party is eight points ahead (39-31), but given the need to improve, rather than merely maintain its position, this is no consolation. 

Of note is that across all 40 seats, both the Tories and Labour have lost votes since the last general election. Labour is down two points to 35 per cent and the Tories are down four to 33 per cent. Ukip is up a remarkable 14 to 17 per cent and the Lib Dems are down 10 to eight per cent. It is a finding that appears to confirm Labour fears that the Farageists are now eating into their vote share as well as the Tories'. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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