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.
Show Hide image

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


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.


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

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.