A new poll suggests that support for Ukip has fallen below 10 per cent for the first time since November 2013, as Nigel Farage prepared to launch his election campaign.
As the party leader gave a speech in Essex in which he declared that Ukip was “picking up support from across every social spectrum”, an Ipsos Mori poll for the Evening Standard showed the party down two points at nine per cent.
The Lib Dems were also down in the poll at six per cent – its lowest level for 25 years. Nick Clegg admitted to listeners on LBC Radio that his party had “clearly taken a hit in the national polls”.
Gaining from both their losses were the Tories and Labour, with Ed Miliband’s party up two and now firmly leading the way on 36 per cent. The Conservatives gained a single point, up to 34 per cent.
Nigel Farage’s own personal ratings have also received a hit, down five points since the last Ipsos Mori survey – but it is worth noting that half of voters said they could yet change their minds between now and the general election in May.
Also speaking today was Mr Miliband, who launched Labour’s education policy at his old school in north London.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
Party sources said he was expected to repeat claims that major Tory donor Lord Fink engaged in tax avoidance as the row over tax allegations against HSBC escalates.
The peer yesterday branded Mr Miliband’s claim “untrue and defamatory”.
A separate poll released today by Comres in association with ITV News showed that the Labour leader has gained some support over his recent disputes with British businesses.
When asked what they thought about his recent criticism of the likes of Boots boss Stefano Pessina and ex-M & S chief Lord Rose, 49 per cent said it showed Mr Miliband was on the side of ordinary people. Just 27 per cent took the other option – that it showed he was a danger to the UK economy.
Labour nonetheless trailed some way behind the Conservatives as the party people would most trust to promote economic growth.Reuse content