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Are the Tories now ahead in the polls?

Recent polls suggest the party may have finally moved in front.

This post originally appeared on May2015.com, our election site.

Three pollsters – YouGov, ComRes and Survation – have now put the Tories ahead by one percentage point. This morning YouGov put them ahead by 1 for the second time (they poll five times a week). Is the party finally leading the polls, as many pundits have long expected and some forecasters have predicted?

We are really in a tie, rather than a Tory lead. But that tie has gone from a Labour-leaning one to the beginnings of a Tory-leaning one.

Ever since October, when Labour’s 3-4 point summer lead started to evaporate, the party has still led marginally in the polls. May2015’s Poll of Polls has shown the occasional tie – or even a fractional Tory lead – but Labour were usually ahead by 1-2 points throughout November, December and the first half of January.

The Tories have now crept ahead of Labour, and done so because a series of pollsters have put them ahead (unlike two weeks ago, when an anomalous Lord Aschroft poll gave them a very short-lived lead).

Populus, the second most prolific pollster after YouGov, are still showing Labour ahead. They put them up by one on Monday, but they had them ahead by 3-5 points earlier this month and often put them ahead by two throughout late 2014. Their next poll, on Friday, is worth watching.

We are really in a tie. Individual polls are accurate to within 3 percentage points, which doesn’t mean our Poll of Polls is inaccurate by up to 3 percentage points, but does mean leads of less than 1 point are effectively ties.

This chart of YouGov’s eighteen polls over the past three weeks gives you an idea of how the two parties are regularly exchanging leads.

But the lead Labour have long-held throughout this parliament is clearly gone.

Harry Lambert is a staff writer and editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.