The result of the Pendle seat in May’s General Election is hanging in the balance, according to a new opinion poll.
When 1,000 voters – 542 women and 458 men – were asked the question “If there was a General Election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?”, just before Christmas, Labour had a narrow lead over the Conservatives of 2% (Labour 36%, Conservative 34%, UKIP 19%, Lib Dem 7%).
However, when asked the question again, adding “And thinking specifically about your own parliamentary constituency at the next General Election and the candidates that are likely to stand for election…” the result was reversed with a 3% lead for sitting Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson over his Labour opponent Azhar Ali (Conservative 36%, Labour 33%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dem 11%).
Of committed voters, the poll from Lord Ashcroft shows:
l 78% of Tories ruling out voting for Labour, 63% for the Lib Dems and 65% for UKIP.
l 76% of Labour supporters saying they would not vote Conservative, 69% for the Lib Dems and 79% for UKIP.
l 68% of Lib Dems would not vote Tory, 48% Labour and 80% UKIP.
l And 64% of UKIP followers saying they would not vote Conservative, 80% Labour and 86% Lib Dem.
Mr Stephenson won the seat at the 2010 General Election, beating long-serving Labour incumbent Gordon Prentice by 3,585 votes.
Mr Stephenson said: “Obviously the only poll that matters is the one on May 7th next year, but this poll confirms the election will be closely fought.
“Until Parliament is dissolved in March next year I’m going to try and avoid campaigning. I’ll just continue doing what I can to help local people and resolve local issues.”
Mr Ali said: “The poll clearly shows that if there was an election tomorrow Labour would win Pendle and the general election.
“On the doorstep people are telling me that struggling to make ends meet with the increasing costs of living and are worried about cuts to local council services whilst the NHS is creaking at the seams because of Tory cuts.
“I am going to continue talking to local people and businesses and ensure their concerns are at the heart of everything we do going forward.
“I want to take the opportunity once again to challenge the Tory MP to public debates on the NHS and other issues that are so dear to local people.”