Britain still headed for hung parliament

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The Conservative Party is ahead of Labour but not yet on course to form the next government, according to the latest "poll of polls" for The Independent.

The weighted average of last month's polls by ICM, MORI, Populus and YouGov puts the Tories on 37 per cent (up one point on the previous month), Labour on 33 per cent (unchanged) and the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent (down one).

If the figures were repeated at the next general election on the proposed new constituency boundaries, Labour would win 302 seats, the Tories 274, the Liberal Democrats 43 and other parties 21. This would mean a hung parliament in which Labour and the Liberal Democrats could join to forge an overall majority, while the Tories and Liberal Democrats could not.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the figures, said the "poll of polls" showed little change since the summer. He said the bounce for Labour after Tony Blair's farewell speech at his party's gathering in Manchester appeared to be short-lived. "Labour's electoral problems remain as serious as they have been since May," he said.

The overall position remains uncertain. "Once we are in hung parliament territory, even a minor change in the standing of the parties can have profound implications as to who would be in the best position to form a government," he said.

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