Economy 'will sink Tories'

THE GOVERNMENT is likely to lose the Christchurch by-election on Thursday by a huge margin, not because of the Prime Minister's leadership or because of its turmoils on Europe, but because it has failed to convince the voters that the economy has turned the corner.

The state of the economy and the imposition of VAT on domestic fuel bills are the main reasons given by voters intending to desert the Tories in favour of the Liberal Democrats on Thursday.

A poll by NOP for the Independent on Sunday, carried out on Thursday and Friday, suggests that the Tories will lose Christchurch, one of their safest seats, on a 35 per cent swing, thus eclipsing nearly all the great post- war by-election upsets. Only Simon Hughes's victory for the Alliance in Bermondsey in 1983 has recorded a higher swing. But that was against Labour, then in Opposition. The Government lost the Newbury by-election to the Liberal Democrats last April on a 28 per cent swing.

The opinion poll result, it must be stressed, may not be repeated on Thursday. By-election polls are subject to more than usual error - a similar poll, the weekend before Newbury, greatly underestimated the Liberal Democrat success.

Our poll has barely a crumb of comfort for the Tories. The large majority - 72 per cent - of those planning to vote Liberal Democrat on Thursday say they would do the same if it were a General Election. Of those who voted Tory last year but intend to vote Liberal Democrat in the by- election (the 'Tory deserters'), only 17 per cent say they would definitely switch back to the Government in a another general election. Another 18 per cent were undecided.

Further, a change of leader would hardly help the Tories at all. Asked if the accession of Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, to the Conservative leadership would make any difference to their vote on Thursday, 88 per cent of the Tory deserters said it would not; 84 per cent said it would make no difference if Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, were leader. Only the return of Margaret Thatcher would make a significant difference to the Tory vote - though nothing like enough to affect the result. Twenty-one per cent of the deserters say they would return to the Tories if she were leader.

Voters were asked to choose two from a list of 10 possible factors influencing their vote on Thursday. Among Tory deserters, 44 per cent said the overall state of the economy was an important influence and 43 per cent chose VAT on fuel. Law and order and the Government's general competence were the next most important influences. Mr Major's leadership was well down the list; only rail privatisation and Tory divisions on Europe were less important.

The poll enables Mr Major's supporters to argue that voters will return to the Tory fold once they feel the benefits of improved economic performance and that a change of leader would make no difference either way.

For Labour, the poll is in some ways as discouraging as for the Tories. Only five per cent say they intend to vote Labour on Thursday - in the General Election, the party got 12 per cent of the vote.

NOP interviewed a representative quota sample of 768 adults aged 18-plus across the whole constituency of Christchurch on 22 and 23 July.

(Table omitted)

Travel
travel
Sport
football
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

HR Administration Manager - Hounslow, West London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Administration Manager...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment