The Labour lead in tonight's poll of 40 Tory-Labour marginals was 8 per cent; Ashcroft has showed an average 9.8 per cent lead in 37 of these seats. Photo: Getty.
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ComRes suggest Labour’s summer leads in the key marginals are intact

We can compare tonight’s poll with Ashcroft’s seat-by-seat polls of Tory-Labour marginals.

For daily news, analysis and polling, explore May2015.com.

 

Tonight’s poll from ComRes for ITV is more interesting than most. It gives us an insight into one of, if not the, key election questions: what will the swing be between the Tories and Labour in May? More specifically, how many Tory-held seats will Labour win?

The news is encouraging for Labour – far more than the potentially temporary national poll spike three pollsters handed them on Monday. ComRes have grouped voters across the 40 most marginal Tory-Lab seats: 25 are those the Tories won by the narrowest majorities in 2010 (the most “marginal” seats), and 15 are the closest marginals won by Labour. It has then worked out the popularity of the parties across those 40 seats.

This doesn’t give us any insight into how the parties are doing in these individual seats, as Ashcroft’s seat-by-seat polls do, but we can compare ComRes’ vote shares with the collective vote shares given by Ashcroft’s polls.

This gives us an idea of whether the critical poll leads Ashcroft handed Labour earlier in the summer are still in tact. The data, in so far as it goes, suggests they are.

Ashcroft has polled those 25 Tory-held seats (and 18 others), as well as 12 of the 15 Labour seats ComRes polled. The average lead he handed Labour in those 37 seats was 9.8 points. ComRes tonight gave Labour a very similar 8 point lead across those 37 (and three more Labour-held seats Ashcroft hasn’t polled, because they will likely show strong Labour leads).

This is interesting because Labour have fallen slightly in the national polls since many of these Ashcroft polls. His 12 polls of Labour-held polls came out in May, his first 12 Tory-held seat polls were released in July, the next 8 came out in August, and 12 more (5 of which we are interested in for this comparison) were published in October.

This is how Labour has fared in the national polls since late July.

If that slight national dip hasn’t affected Labour in the marginals that matter, the party could still be on course to win many of the seats Ashcroft’s polls have handed them leads in.

Explore May2015.com.

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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"We repealed, then forgot": the long shadow of Section 28 homophobia

Why are deeply conservative views about the "promotion" of homosexuality still being reiterated to Scottish school pupils? 

Grim stories of LGBTI children being bullied in school are all too common. But one which emerged over the weekend garnered particular attention - because of the echoes of the infamous Section 28, nearly two decades after it was scrapped.

A 16-year-old pupil of a West Lothian school, who does not wish to be named, told Pink News that staff asked him to remove his small rainbow pride badge because, though they had "no problem" with his sexuality, it was not appropriate to "promote it" in school. It's a blast from the past - the rules against "promoting" homosexuality were repealed in 2000 in Scotland, but the long legacy of Section 28 seems hard to shake off. 

The local authority responsible said in a statement that non-school related badges are not permitted on uniforms, and says it is "committed to equal rights for LGBT people". 

The small badge depicted a rainbow-striped heart, which the pupil said he had brought back from the Edinburgh Pride march the previous weekend. He reportedly "no longer feels comfortable going to school", and said homophobia from staff members felt "much more scar[y] than when I encountered the same from other pupils". 

At a time when four Scottish party leaders are gay, and the new Westminster parliament included a record number of LGBTQ MPs, the political world is making progress in promoting equality. But education, it seems, has not kept up. According to research from LGBT rights campaigners Stonewall, 40 per cent of LGBT pupils across the UK reported being taught nothing about LGBT issues at school. Among trans students, 44 per cent said school staff didn’t know what "trans" even means.

The need for teacher training and curriculum reform is at the top of campaigners' agendas. "We're disappointed but not surprised by this example," says Jordan Daly, the co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education [TIE]. His grassroots campaign focuses on making politicians and wider society aware of the reality LGBTI school students in Scotland face. "We're in schools on a monthly basis, so we know this is by no means an isolated incident." 

Studies have repeatedly shown a startling level of self-harm and mental illness reported by LGBTI school students. Trans students are particularly at risk. In 2015, Daly and colleagues began a tour of schools. Shocking stories included one in which a teacher singled out a trans pupils for ridicule in front of the class. More commonly, though, staff told them the same story: we just don't know what we're allowed to say about gay relationships. 

This is the point, according to Daly - retraining, or rather the lack of it. For some of those teachers trained during the 1980s and 1990s, when Section 28 prevented local authorities from "promoting homosexuality", confusion still reigns about what they can and cannot teach - or even mention in front of their pupils. 

The infamous clause was specific in its homophobia: the "acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" could not be mentioned in schools. But it's been 17 years since the clause was repealed in Scotland - indeed, it was one of the very first acts of the new Scottish Parliament (the rest of the UK followed suit three years later). Why are we still hearing this archaic language? 

"We repealed, we clapped and cheered, and then we just forgot," Daly says. After the bitter campaign in Scotland, in which an alliance of churches led by millionaire businessman Brian Souter poured money into "Keeping the Clause", the government was pleased with its victory, which seemed to establish Holyrood as a progressive political space early on in the life of the parliament. But without updating the curriculum or retraining teaching staff, Daly argues, it left a "massive vacuum" of uncertainty. 

The Stonewall research suggests a similar confusion is likely across the UK. Daly doesn't believe the situation in Scotland is notably worse than in England, and disputes the oft-cited allegation that the issue is somehow worse in Scotland's denominational schools. Homophobia may be "wrapped up in the language of religious belief" in certain schools, he says, but it's "just as much of a problem elsewhere. The TIE campaign doesn't have different strategies for different schools." 

After initial disappointments - their thousands-strong petition to change the curriculum was thrown out by parliament in 2016 - the campaign has won the support of leaders such as Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dugdale, and recently, the backing of a majority of MSPs. The Scottish government has set up a working group, and promised a national strategy. 

But for Daly, who himself struggled at a young age with his sexuality and society's failure to accept it, the matter remains an urgent one.  At just 21, he can reel off countless painful stories of young LGBTI students - some of which end in tragedy. One of the saddest elements of the story from St Kentigern's is that the pupil claimed his school was the safest place he had to express his identity, because he was not out at home. Perhaps for a gay pupil in ten years time, that will be a guarantee. 

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