Election `97: Wavering voters deserting Tories, poll says

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The Independent Online
Within the last 24 hours, reluctant Conservative voters have started to drift away from the party, according to private Liberal Democrat polls and canvassing returns.

Senior Liberal Democrats said last night that they were the beneficiaries in their key marginals, while it was understood that Labour was attracting the "switchers" in their target seats. One source said the campaign seems to have gone through three phases. While Labour was in a commanding position four weeks before the election, later the Conservatives started to pick up votes as the European issue came to the fore.

Over the last day or so, however, concerns over Europe had abated and those who had returned to the Conservatives, are now going back once more to the opposition parties. Elsewhere sources confirmed the Liberal Democrats' impression.

An official said: "Further and deeper reflection is persuading people to return to their original choice. Although we can't claim any scientific basis for the assertion, we believe that voters now have a settled idea that the rascals must go. This is mixed with anger over what has been going on in the Conservative party."

The sources pointed out that national polls are invariably two or three days behind what is happening on the ground. The contentions of the senior sources will be tested when surveys are published at the beginning of next week.