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

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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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