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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Polls steady as end nears

David Cowling

ICM's poll in London's Evening Standard provides two surveys in one - a national poll along with a poll of Londoners.

The national figures are: Labour 47% (down 1% on their previous poll three weeks ago), the Conservatives at 30% (down 2%) and the Lib Dems on 18% (up 4%).


A Labour lead of 17% compares with the 13% lead they achieved in the 1997 election.

The figures for voting intention in London are: Labour 53% (up 1% from the same previous survey), Conservatives 26% (down 6%) and the Lib Dems 14% (up 1%).

The national poll shows virtually no movement in Labour support since the start of the campaign and only a 2% adjustment between Conservative and Lib Dem.

Just days away from the election, the Conservatives must have hoped that this latest ICM poll would match the one published the day before in The Observer which showed them on 34% (their highest poll rating of the campaign so far).

Tory morale blow

But Sunday's 12% Labour lead becomes Monday's 17% lead and any amount of explanation about margins of error showing that this widening gap may not be so significant cannot disguise the psychological impact of a movement in Labour's favour.


The Lib Dems, on the other hand will be greatly encouraged to find that this poll sustains the recent run of surveys which point to a much stronger performance for the party since the opening of the campaign.

As if the national figures were not discouraging enough for the Conservatives, the ICM poll of Londoners (based on 500 adults) sends them an even less cheerful message.

Swinging London

Their latest rating of 26% in the capital would, if reflected in voting on 7 June, eat still further into their depleted stock of seats there.

London provided the biggest swing to Labour in the 1997 election and as a consequence the Conservatives lost 30 of the 41 seats they were defending.

Interestingly, although the numbers are small and must be treated with caution, this poll suggests that the beneficiaries of the last few weeks have been the minor parties in London (up from 4% to 7%).

These minor parties performed strongly in the May 2000 London mayoral and assembly elections, but nobody is suggesting that they will perform as well in this general election, although they may play a part in siphoning off votes from the major parties and influencing the outcome in one or two seats.

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