Lord Ashcroft’s latest constituency polls have been released. He has already published more than 100 but these are his most important yet. (Track them all here.)
To predict who will this election we need to answer a few questions:
– Who will benefit most from the Lib Dem collapse (answer: Labour, slightly);
– How many seats will the SNP take from Labour in Scotland (national polls suggest dozens, but they could struggle);
– How many seats will Ukip win;
– And how many seats will change hands between Labour and the Tories.
Today’s polls help answer the final two questions.
First, Ashcroft’s polls show Ukip seriously challenging Labour in four seats: Great Grimsby, Dudley North, Plymouth Moor View and Rother Valley. Ukip are within 1, 3, 5 and 6 per cent in these four seats, and polling above 30 per cent in each of them.
Labour’s failure to keep hold of support in seats they have long traditionally won is drastic and could be of great importance not just in 2015 but 2020, or whenever the next election is.
But the more immediately important question today’s polls help answer is “How many Tory-held seats will Labour win?” They need to win around 60 to win a majority – if the effects of Ukip’s rise and Lib Dem’s fall is roughly equal – and that’s before the SNP take seats from them.
Ashcroft has polled seats 43-50 on that 60-seat list, and his polls show Labour ahead in just two of these seats. If Labour can’t win in these seats, a hung parliament is inevitable.